Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Mickey Mouse guide to store design

I was recently talking to some people about the store as a Theatre of Dreams, a place of irresistible attraction and experience. A few weeks later one of them sent me 'Mickey’s 10 Commandments'. Yes, that’s Mickey Mouse I’m talking about. Incredibly these ten rules for theme park design were developed by Walt Disney Imagineering international ambassador, Marty Sklar, way back in 1987. They may be over 20 years old, but the rules are a blueprint for any store that aspires to be a Lovemark.

1. Know your audience. How often do I go into a store that is designed for women with no thought for the men who often accompany their wives or partners? And, it works the other way too. Knowing your audience is more than just your idea of who they are, it’s being empathetic with what their idea might be.

2. Wear your guests' shoes. Everyone I have ever met who runs a great store spends face time on the floor and behind the counter. There is never enough time for busy CEOs or store managers to get down there, but there’s no other way to get truly close to shoppers.

3. Organize the flow of people and ideas with good stories. Our people at Saatchi & Saatchi X proved this when they worked with Wal-Mart to redesign their store at Plano in Texas. High impact graphics provided a strong sense of where everything was and helped tell the story of the store as soon as you entered the front door.

4. Create a weanie. By this, Disney meant a connected set of visual magnets that draw people along. Think in Disneyland of the Castle at the end of Main Street. This strikes me as a central idea for store design which so often assaults you with visual confusion.

5. Communicate with visual literacy. The Disney people recommend making good use of all the non-verbal ways of communication - color, shape, form, texture. To that I would add sisomo. Sight, sound and motion on screen.

6. Avoid overload. Selling by yelling doesn’t work. We live in an Attraction Economy where simple ideas that are connected with people’s lives will win every time. Get rid of the trumpet section and bring in the strings.

7. Tell one story at a time. If I’m in the BBQ section, I don’t want a million signs telling me about charcoal, cooking equipment and deli goods. If you want to attract me, you need to bring them all into one story about enjoying a Sunday in the backyard.

8.Avoid contradiction. I need to know what sort of store you are from the moment I walk in and I want it to stay that way. There is nothing worse than thinking you are in an upmarket boutique and finding yourself at a messy sales table.

9. For every ounce of treatment, provide a ton of fun. To the Disney guys, that means lose the information and lecturing and ramp up the participation, experience and a rich environment that attracts all the senses.

10. Keep it up. You’re only a Lovemark for as long as people love you.


Sophee McPhee said...

Rule #10..."Keep it up". I agree that having an ongoing commitment to the previous 9 rules is essential to sustaining an 'immortal' lovemark. But, perhaps, the #1 rule ("know your audience") is the most significant? Like most, I love Disneyland. However, it is more the idea, the imagined essence of this miniature world of dreams and escape that appeal to me. I find the reality, the actual experience somewhat ‘stale’. Having been to LA & Euro Disney a couple of times (I was a lucky child), I found my latest trip (as a 20 year old) a tad unfulfilling. Just because I am no longer less than 5ft tall does not mean my mind no longer craves the wild, wacky and wonderful. I understand Disney’s commitment to its own tradition, its original lovemark. However, I think another important rule Marty Sklar should have included in his list is this one: “leave room to grow”. Or, perhaps, it’s just the scope of his #1 rule which needed bigger borders...something along the lines of, “know your target audience, AND grow with/keep your finger on the pulse of your aging target audience”. Yes, predictability and tradition are comforting and sweet; however, they also leave you wanting just a little bit more.

Sophee McPhee said...

As with everything in life, it seems there are exceptions to Sklar’s 10 rules for creating and managing a lovemark. There is one particular example, which continues to gain strength, perplex business/marketing/media/& social critics and break many of the rules (most notably rule #7 "tell one story at a time", and rule #8 "avoid contradiction"). I am, of course, talking about the brand that is “Paris Hilton”. This lucrative lady (or, rather, her PR group) is a marketing genius. There aren’t many businesses or people who can establish themselves (globally, might I add) as a porn star (see http://i1.iofferphoto.com/img/1161586800/_i/14889200/1.jpg) at the same time as a sweet little rich girl from sunny California (see http://www.athlonsports.com/store/images/pariswdog8x10.jpg). Paris not only appeals to a HUGE population of sexually-charged men, she also has an extensive following among the female tween demographic. Mr. Roberts...you’ve got to hire this girl! Then again, maybe not!

Piotr Jakubowski said...

I'd have to agree that the 10th commandment is probably the most important. To me, Keeping It Up means that these companies need to keep innovating to stay on their feet. The tastes of the customer are always changing, and it's important to understand this. Apple does a great job in doing this. People are so obsessed with the brand, and they're always coming up with something new. iMac, iPod, iPhone.

The Apple store experience is definitely a ton of fun, cause you get to go in and just play with everything.

Do you think that Apple uses enough sisomo in its store designs? Or do you think that it would cause overload that would hinder the experience?