Zag Brand Design – How taking a Different Approach can Make your Brand Stand Out

Sometimes, different is the Only Answer
In our lives as brand strategists and designers we spend alot of time and energy helping our clients gain clarity about what their brand proposition should be in the market and how it should look and behave from every perspective to establish the reputation and differentiation their businesses deserve. Occasionally we come across a situation that by necessity demands of us to think outside the box. Whether the project comes with some curly restrictions, an unusually small budget, or a strange but irresistible communication opportunity, it’s often those very demands that set us looking in new directions for answers to the project’s brand communication challenges.

There is nothing quite so refreshing as a designer of brands and brand experiences to set-out on a creative project from a new and different perspective. Likewise, we are drawn to the many clever brand gestures we come across that leverage a different solution to create truly unique brand experiences that create emotional and long-lasting connections with the audiences.

One of my favorites is the illy shipping container cafe.
We’re unsure if this was the first example of a re-configured shipping container, and we’ve certainly seen a bunch of great examples over the years (including the very cool Section 8: Container Bar in Melbourne). A mild mannered shipping container by night, the illy cafe turns into a very slick coffee house at the touch of a remote controlled button. As brand gestures go, this one is as rich in on-brand-ness as they come, very buzzable, and portable enough to turn heads and get tongues wagging where-ever they wish to make and impact.

Brand Idea Extension
Not content to sit on their very clever laurels, illy collaborated with artist/architect Adam Kalkin to create the illy Push Button House, a five-room home with a kitchen, dining room, bedroom, living room and library constructed again within a standard industrial shipping container.  The home, which transforms at the push of a button, is created from recycled and recyclable materials and is the physical representation of illy’s dedication to sustainability, art and innovation, not to mention stylish cafe lifestyle.

Push Button House debuted at the esteemed Venice Biennale in June 2007.  In December 2007, Push Button House was exhibited in New York City where it welcomed holiday shoppers at the Time Warner Center.  As part of the New York Wine & Food Festival, Push Button House again took center stage in the Meatpacking District in October 2008. Guests to Push Button House had the opportunity to sample the world’s finest coffee using illy’s new iperEspresso system, participate in coffee classes, view dance and performance art and listen to cafe conversations.

And More Brand Inspired Spaces
Often zagging to come-up with a fresh brand idea can start with an existing innovation. In the case of the Sleep Box, they’re a larger, more stylish and more private version of Japan’s (in)famous Capsule Hotels. Sleep boxes are also aimed at the traveler who needs a quick bit of shut eye, Dubai Airport looks to be one of the first to offer Sleep Boxes. “Sleep Boxes are small cubicle spaces that are available at public places like Airports and train stations where people can book a ‘box’ for short time period to catch some sleep. It offers a small resting space while you wait for that connection in few hours.

A Zag Brand Idea inspired by Lego
This Lego kitchen is the creation of Parisian design duo Simon Pillard and Philippe Rosetti Munchausen. Pillard and Rosetti took a bold approach when designing their own kitchen by venturing to IKEA for the basic kitchen island and then spending the next week covering it with more than 20,000 pieces of Lego. The result is a one-of-a-kind creation that serves as an artistic centerpiece for the space, in addition to functioning as a kitchen counter.

And what could be more inspiring than a kitchen made from Lego? How about an entire house?
Top Gear presenter James May built a full sized Lego house on the Denbies Wine Estate in the UK. Lego house is the latest toy challenge that May has undertaken as part of his BBC series James May’s Toy Stories. Other projects included the world’s first plasticine garden, which won the people’s choice award at the Chelsea Flower Show, and the world’s largest model plane. The life-size house uses over three million bricks and features a staircase, toilet and shower.

Retail is the Perfect Zag Brand Design Canvas

Victor Churchill is a supremely cool butcher shop established as a retail outlet by Vic and Anthony Puharich, the father and son duo behind Vic’s Premium Quality Meat, the leading meat supplier to some of the finest restaurants in Australia, China and Singapore. A butcher shop – Churchill’s Butchery -has operated in the space since 1876, so it was an appropriate location for what the Puharichs envisioned as a European-inspired designer shop of carnivorous inspiration. This amazing piece of retail theatre was designed by Sydney-based Dreamtime Australia Design who are well known for their restaurant and bar work. This was Dreamtime’s first retail project and they took to the medium like the proverbial duck to water, creating a unique, rich and memorable brand experience.

The Three Golden Rules of Zag Brand Design
Whilst none of these brand design ideas were simple to implement or carried-out on a shoe string budget, they each delivered much greater than their fair share of return on investment. The principles of creating stand-out brand expressions are equally relevant across all businesses and all markets. Our three golden rules for creating unique and memorable expressions for your brand are:
01. Gain absolute clarity around your brand proposition.
Using Victor Churchil has a colourful example, as a brand they clearly understand that they are simply the most premium supplier of fine meats in the market. Their unique retail design is a testament to that proposition.
02. Look Outside the Box.
Explore other, unrelated industries for ideas. A packaging solution from an Italian shoe brand might provide the perfect inspiration for the design of a new cafe for a coffee company.
03. Don’t Squib on the Design.
Even the best ideas rely on execution to take them to market – design is and always will be the best friend of brand expression. Once you have your big idea, make sure you find and engage great designers to turn your inspiration into a memorable and unique brand expression.

If you’d like to make your business stand-out in its market with a unique brand expression, why not give us a call.

David Ansett, Brandamentalist
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Brand Designer


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