Brand Architecture: Successful Brands Using Architecture As Part Of The Narrative
Architecture has become a catch phrase in different industries other than architecture. If you go to LinkedIn you will find several listings for Software Architects. And when I went to do some research for this post, I searched "brand architecture" and NOTHING about buildings came up. It's apparently a phrase referring to the complex structures of large brands and their offshoots or a way to refer to all the elements that make up a brand. Who knew!?
My definition of brand architecture is architecture (actual buildings and interiors) that reflects and enhances the narrative of the brand. It's what the majority of brands are not taking advantage of: the ability of architecture to enhance the brand and tell a story.
I know we are all familiar with franchise type brands and their architecture. McDonald's and Target, for example, follow a franchise mindset that when you walk into any of these stores anywhere in the world, the experience is the same. They all have a strong brand presence but no story is told and the actual experience isn't an intentional part of the brand.
READY TO TAKE YOUR BRAND TO THE NEXT LEVEL? GET YOUR ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIORS INTEGRATED WITH YOUR BRAND- DON'T JUST TELL YOUR BRAND STORY, LET PEOPLE EXPERIENCE IT.
But there are a few brands out there, and more are starting to follow these successful examples, that are using architecture and interiors to tell a story and craft an experience that is unique to each location but still reflects the brand as a whole.
The Graduate hotels
Hands down this is the shining example of brand architecture. Each hotel in each location has a different look, a different feel, a different story; each based on the city they are located (all being university towns). It's genius.
If you want more of that backstory, here is a great podcast that talks about The Graduate hotel chain and what goes into making the story and how powerful the story is to their brand.
I'm not even going to begin to try to tell the story of each city hotel, but I can sort of guess that Madison's is about going to camp. Besides loving the aesthetic, I just adore the way the architecture and interiors add to the experience of being in Madison, WI. And it's unique to that location. Like you have to stay in a hotel to begin with and then you get this unique little treat of being there. So cool!
The Nashville Graduate Hotel tells a completely different story. Basic summary: over the top female country singer
Here in Michigan we have The Graduate Ann Arbor. Having lived and worked in Ann Arbor for many years, and having stayed in the hotel that was there previously, The Graduate is a huge improvement. Very collegiate...
And I couldn't resist this shot from Lincoln, Nebraska.
Luxury brands are particularly good at using brand architecture. Their buildings like to embody brand values like glamorous, innovative, sleek and high end.
I love this one- glass bricks!
Look how stunning the glass bricks are at night.
Prada definitely understands its brand. Like Chanel, it's architecture projects sleek, upscale luxury.
Cloth & Kind
Closer to home, interior design greats Cloth & Kind have utilized architecture in their brand. Their entry door and hardware brilliantly summarize their aesthetic and vibe. I can totally imagine them opening up several shops around the country and each one has a unique entry door.
I'm a little biased here since I was the architect for their build-out (look at those raised gold pyramid details on the awning!)
These examples show you how much more of a brand experience you can create when you utilize architecture and interiors as part of your brand. You can see some of my initial stages of brand architecture here.