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.