Do you know what a "brand" consists of? A long time ago, it used to consist of mainly a logo, possibly a slogan. Lucky for us as consumers, we have evolved into a sophisticated and stimulated world (sometimes I question humanity's sophistication but that's not for today's blog post) where a brand is so much more than that. Have you ever walked into a coffee shop and noticed that you liked the interiors, their coffee cups, their music, their menu boards, or maybe even the funky plants sitting on the tables? I personally indulge in the experience of a restaurant or coffee shop's bathrooms. Did the wallpaper or mirrors make me want to take selfies in front of them? Did the audiobook of a man learning to speak Japanese played over the speakers make me laugh? All of these factor into the brand.
To quickly and not-so-concisely explain what a brand is, I'll try and break it down: A brand is the conception a consumer has when they think about your product or service. That conception is achieved by dialing in a brand strategy to say "I am this. I exist because this." I know, pretty meta. In a broad scope, this is how you start to develop a brand strategy.
I'm a total branding nerd. I obsess over a company's brand standards, packaging, customer experience, aesthetic, message, voice, etc. This is the stuff I indulge in. You are likely bombarded with hundreds of brands every single day, all with unique and deeply honed brand strategies. Which are the ones that grab your attention the most?
I'm going to launch a series of brand highlights here in Portland or elsewhere, where I feature a brand I've come across that actually grabbed me. I'm excited when a brand is able to make me stop and admire something they're doing, so I'm down to give them a little celebration here on my blogging platform.
My first feature is Serra, a Cannabis shop with a couple locations in Portland. Every time I walk past their downtown location on SW 1st, I peek my eyes into their enormous windows and get inspired by all of their beautiful interiors. They're flipping the script on your typical weed shop, and I had to go in.
Everything is open and bright, with full glass windows and doors and fiddle leaf figs in every corner. Beautiful industrial gold finishes and trendy decor make you feel hip and stylish, even when you're wearing your gym clothes (ahem, me). Nothing about the experience there makes you feel like you're in your friend's friend's ex boyfriend's cousin's garage buying weed. They tout "Quality Drugs" in their beautifully typographically designed slogan, and the space is clean, stunning and dignified. I laughed when I realized they also sell really cool jewelry - duh - of course they do. Products that have nothing to do with style (like drugs), are automatically associated with style when placed into a stylish space. Serra's brand is promoting a stylish lifestyle.
The clean ambiance instantly makes you feel like you're in a high-end location buying a high-end product. Branding gold. Their Instagram is aesthetically curated to perfection, with product and visual art being equally the subject of the content. Not to mention the highly Instagrammable features like the neon sign, plant wall and entry tiles. I seriously love that branding strategy. Create a brand so cool that people want to broadcast their association with it. Then bask in the free, user-generated marketing, baby. Serra is killing the branding game.