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Creative Services: The Secret to Scalable Design

By Miller Zell

Environmental design is art, but it’s art with a singular purpose: Optimizing your brand and customer experience to build loyalty.

Great environmental design, in fact, is rooted in a series of creative services that starts with in-depth research and doesn’t end until your executed spaces present your brand at its aspirational best for engaged customers.

When done right, this process is dynamic and innovative and built on a foundation that supports scaling to several thousand stores, branches or franchises.

What are creative services?

The creative services process begins with a comprehensive look at customer attitudinal and behavioral data to create a strategic roadmap, one that encompasses environmental communication and digital integration. A full understanding of operational and financial parameters is required, as is a clear articulation of your brand imperatives, including an evaluation of both industry trends and competitive threats.

Then, to arrive at a fully executed environment that is both compelling and purposeful, beautiful to look at and scalable, great environmental design incorporates an array of services, including:

  • Research, Insights and Trends
  • Site Surveys
  • Space Planning
  • Digital Strategy & Content
  • Social & Mobile Integration
  • Graphic Design
  • Campaign Management
  • Copywriting
  • Architectural Services
  • Environmental Design

There are more than a few award-winning retail designs that earned attention and praise for their striking and surprising presentation but then failed to connect with shoppers or proved little more than a one-off showcase.

That’s why the ideal partner offers design development and creative services that are based in the real world, where innovation is intertwined with purpose.

As in: Delivering ROI.

For example, several impressive hardwood displays might look fantastic in a “store of the future,” but are they scalable? It’s not just a matter of procurement and manufacturing expenses either. Hardwoods are heavy and need special care during shipping, so that’s a significant cost and logistical challenge, particularly when you’re refreshing thousands of stores.

That’s why your creative services partner needs to emphasize value engineering, which guides design from modeling to material selection to fixture assembly methods to end-user ergonomics to environmental impact.

Moreover, prototyping before implementation lets you inspect, test and measure before adopting at scale. It’s a fundamental part of client-centric creative services. You need to see and experience the fixture or décor environment and provide specific feedback before moving to procurement, production and rollout. This transparent, end-to-end approach minimizes risk and maximizes return on investment.

Expertise, transparency, innovative solutions

Great creative services offer cross-functional teams who are hands-on throughout the process and provide transparent communication during campaign execution. They fully understand and assess operational challenges, make facility visits, brainstorm solutions and craft detailed engineering documents to determine the best manufacturing methods and materials.

So, what should you require of your creative services process? Good question.

  • Expect to know the whole cost, from design through installation.
  • Understand what the best materials are to solve your environmental challenges.
  • Consider numerous manufacturing methods and evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each.
  • Request a clear explanation of digital and app integration that purposefully engages and serves customers and associates.
  • Inquire about rollout-ready kits of parts that accommodate a range of footprints and investment levels.
  • Ask about software platforms that efficiently manage floor plans, ordering, inventory, installation photos, marketing asset locations & types and marketing campaigns.
  • Don’t overlook freight, packing, ease of installation, maintenance, life cycle, ADA requirements and other codes.

The solution? A partner who offers end-to-end services

Design development and customized creative services combine art, science and engineering. Legitimately providing clients such services requires deep industry knowledge, diverse talent and collaborative expertise. While many agencies make claims about their capabilities, they often farm out work or simply offer a hard stop at “design.” Or offer an inconvenient “not our scope of work” to an ask deep into the campaign.

Executing your environmental design plan efficiently, precisely and on budget is a challenge, whether it’s for 5,000 retail stores, 500 quick-serve restaurants, 75 bank branches or a facility at a major university.

It’s best to find a proven partner who offers end-to-end services and understands the complexities of branded environmental design, thereby providing an efficient path to ROI.

End-to-end branded environment services under one roof to craft the optimal customer experience wherever people gather, shop or learn.