The Project: To critically analyze and compare the complete branding of four stores.
The Stores: H&M, Anthropologie, AllSaints, Urban Outfitters
For starters, each of these stores is a clothing retailer with both men and women’s clothing. Except for Anthropologie which only sells women’s clothes. They all share a similar price point H&M being the least expensive followed by Urban Outfitters and then Anthropologie and then AllSaints. Each of these companies are marketing to a very similar demographic of men and women in their teens, twenties, and possibly early thirties and they do it in a very similar way. They’re all selling an image, or a lifestyle. The aesthetic of the store relies on what lifestyle it is selling. They all want to relate to the customer who shares the image of the store. It wants to be the customer’s friend and share the same interests as the customer. By building a relationship like that with a customer the company can rest assured that the customer will be back to visit their “friend.”
t only takes walking into an H&M to know that they must be doing fairly well. They have a relatively small store, at least for the amount of clothing and people that they have packed inside of it. As soon as a customer enters they are more than likely overwhelmed with clothing and colors. H&M has a really broad color palette and are not afraid of bright colors. Its almost as if American Apparel and Urban Outfitters had a retail baby.
There is, of course, music playing that is entirely too loud, top 40 pop and hip hop like Rihanna or Katy Perry subliminally telling customers to buy buy buy! Its all part of their image and H&M corners the market on inexpensive, mass quantities of graphic tees and distressed jeans. They’re clever however, in their branding and ad campaigns.
First of all, H&M the logo is a funny thing. Barring any research nobody knows what H&M stands for. It’s just initials that make a company’s name. Who cares anyway? Consumers fall in love with a brand not the person who owns it. So we have the bright red H&M logo and its rather modern looking, It’s not too feminine or masculine which works tremendously in their favor. The reason the Forever 21’s men’s line is failing is because men immediately associate Forever 21 with teenage girls. That’s not the case with H&M, on any given day you could find just as many men in their store as women. The mannequins in the store are very tall, They’re like superhuman beings that send a message to the consumer to look like them, dress like them. They’re all silver, white, and black slick, shiny lacquer which helps them grab the eye of a customer.
There’s nothing particularly wonderful about any of the wall colors or the architecture of the store but there are huge posters of beautiful girls and handsome young men just having the time of their lives in the photographs on the posters. There’s also the David Beckham men’s underwear campaign which appeals to a male’s image of athleticism and strength.They’re selling an image. H&M isn’t known for its high quality products, it’s known for being available to young people with a little bit of money who are the most image conscience demographic on the planet.
Anthropologie is a guy’s worst nightmare. It’s geared entirely to women and does a fantastic job. I haven’t met a girl yet who hasn’t mentioned it at least once. Its become a household name and fast, and that’s because their marketing strategy is like a strategic military mission. Anthropologie is where Holly Hobby’s workshop and Genie’s lamp meet in a smorgasbord of looks, textures, and decorations. Every look has its own section with its own special aesthetic. There’s not a lot of actual branding or logos on display but the customer is still being bombarded with Anthro’s lifestyle. Anthro is selling an image but in a different way than H&M. Their image rests on their name alone and the lifestyle that is the overall store. It’s a little hippie chic with knick-knacks all over the place. There are dishes and books, lotions and furniture, jewelry and even food is this store. It’s a catch all for everything girls are attracted to. The store is gigantic but it’s not packed full, even though their inventory is just as extensive as the square footage. They’ve made it open and airy and a tad whimsical. Anthropologie relies heavily on the stores aesthetic. Architecture and interior design play an important role in their image, stucco walls and hardwood floors make it feel like an old cottage, an old cottage that women can trust to not rip them off. It’s comfortable and bright like you walked into grandma’s attic where there’s a treasure trove of vintage clothes.
The first thing anyone notices about Allsaints are all the sewing machines, they’re everywhere. All shapes and sizes of sewing machines placed around the store make walking into the store feel like walking into a giant textile factory located in London. But then there are these huge hollywood studio lights hanging from the rafters and I see them and again I think glam, I think high fashion, i think hollywood. AllSaints is also selling an image and not at a cheap price. It’s more expensive than any of the other three and probably because they “specialize” in a very specific look. A fashion forward hipster who loves English culture that has extra money to spend will find heaven inside AllSaints. Every stitch of clothing in the store is either black, white, gray, or brown and they’ll sell those colors all year long and that makes me think it’s a little rock and roll too, because rock and rollers will wear all black all year long. Even the old ram’s skull logo is a little rock and roll.
As far as branding goes, again, I think it rests with the fell of the brick and mortar store. The location puts the store front and center in Seattle’s downtown shopping area. Everyone who drives, walks, or bikes by can see the array of Singer sewing machines lining the two story tall windows. It’s like word association branding. I see sewing machines I think clothes. I think of singer sewing machines and I think high quality clothes. The store makes a customer feel like they’re buying the clothes straight from the manufacturing plant. There’s giant steel doors on the fitting rooms and iPads on the wall to look up items. It’s old industry meets new technology. Clothes are even displayed on giant looms that rest on the old beaten hardwood floors which are clearly beat up from years of industrial abuse…
One thing I learned about Urban when doing some research is that they are constantly changing their typeface but in such subtle ways that are consistant with the brand that no one ever notices. Urban Outfitters, everyone knows them, everyone goes there. It’s almost impossible to not go there, they sell everything. Urban outfitters relies a little more on branding than All saints does. They have their typeface that is clearly recognizable on their storefronts and ton their shopping bags. It’s the white type against the blue background that makes it pop and its sort of regal, royal blue that is indicitive of American lifestyle and Urban does a pretty good job of indentifying with modern American lifestyle for people in their teens, twenties, and possibly thirties. Like H&M they sell a lot and I mean A LOT of graphic tees. It’s sort of their trademark. If someone wants a graphic tee they’ll find it at Urban. My favorite one still is the one they had of Kelly form Saved by the Bell.
Because they’re “Urban” they use a lot of fixtures that you might find in an urban setting like graffiti on the walls and wire fences and concrete, they notoriously have the creakiest wood floors!! They have to have these special made. It’s like that in every Urban I’ve ever been in, East coast to West coast with the creaky wood floors. I think we’re supposed to feel like we’ve stumbled on to some old abandoned building that skaters have ransacked and ripped part of the floor out and then graffittied the entire inside…but an old abandoned building that also happens to sell graphic tees and tanktops. They also sell knick-knacks like Anthropologie but they sell gender neutral knick-knacks and furniture now. They sell anything that appeals to young men and women living in an urban environment. They’re obviously big into music, like men and women in their teens and twenties. And they sell “unique” decorations for small apartments or studios. All of this clearly states that once again we’re dealing with a company that is selling a lifestyle or an image and not the product itself.