Retail Design: The Power of Exterior (Re)branding

For retail design, creating great customer experiences isn’t just about the store’s interior. How it looks from the outside is equally important. The way your retail location looks from the street or the shopping mall impacts your brand image. It’s like a giant advertising canvas. How you use this space is key to creating a brand presence and driving foot traffic.

In this blog, we’ll share several design aspects of store exterior (re)design, depending on your business category. Whether you’re opening a new store or giving your old ones a makeover, we’ve got some tips to help you make the most out of your exterior (re)branding.

#1: Glowing in the Dark 

Being visible, particularly during nighttime or in regions with limited streetlight or sunlight, is crucial for retail brands that aim to attract customers and increase awareness.

Take, for example, the design strategy adopted by Chongqing Rural Commercial Bank (CQRC) to enhance the visibility of its branches in busy areas. Large digital mesh screens were installed next to the 24-hour self-banking section, accompanied by ample lighting. They ensure continuous brand presence around the clock. Whether individuals are driving past or walking by during late hours, the prominently illuminated branch is hard to ignore from a distance, contributing to brand recognition in the brick-and-mortar arena. This approach distinguishes CQRC from other nearby retail locations, where typically only the brandmark and at most the tagline are illuminated throughout the building 24/7. 


Image Source: SLD

#2: A Sneak Peek into Your Products or Services 

Utilizing floor-to-ceiling glass walls can offer a captivating glimpse into your products or services while enhancing the aesthetic appeal. Similar to the CQRC’s exterior design, Regions Bank uses large exterior windows to leverage both natural lights and interior lighting in its iconic green color. Together they create a clear and transparent panorama, showcasing digital signages and ATM services even outside of business hours. Passersby and drivers can have a sneak peek into the interior branch. The inviting seating arrangements in the waiting area communicate warmth and hospitality, reinforcing a sense of friendliness and approachability even when the branch is closed. 

Regions Bank

Image Source: SLD

#3: Photogenic Sculptures or Installations 

Incorporating visually striking elements into your exterior design can boost your marketing impact by encouraging social media engagement. Take LINE FRIENDS as an example. In most of its flagship and pop-up stores, the iconic figures, Bear and Cony, are displayed near the entrance, adding a lovely human touch to the retail space. The giant dolls encourage passersby, especially the younger generation, to take selfies and share them on social media, whether they make a purchase or not. Such sculptures or installations are made “Instagrammable,” presenting an opportunity for “free” advertising as people proactively post and share their photos with family and friends. Together with wall decor that includes the brand name, the brand appeal is extended from physical to digital.


Image Source: U Lifestyle

#4: Building Materials That Show You Care

The choice of construction materials and finishes for your exterior design, particularly the façade, can serve as a powerful communicator for your business. They can convey messages about your brand’s positioning, technology trend awareness, and dedication to various causes for society.

For example, the Tiffany & Co. store at Singapore’s Changi Airport had its façade constructed using 3D-printed, recycled plastics, part of which is made of reclaimed and recycled fishing nets. The bold adaptation of new building materials showcases the brand’s commitment to sustainability while signaling its acute sense of technological advancement. The unique façade design is a testament to the brand’s values in environmental responsibility and ocean protection, leaving a lasting impression on airport passengers from all walks of life in one of the busiest world-class international airports. Overall, the exterior reinforces Tiffany & Co. as a forward-thinking and environmentally conscious fashion brand.

Tiffany & Co.

Image Source: MVRDV 

#5: Digital Billboard as Façade

Incorporating digital billboards into your shopfront offers a dynamic way to showcase your brand. Unlike traditional, static design elements such as metal cladding, digital screens can be more flexible and versatile, allowing you to easily change and update content to cater to different seasonal or limited-edition offerings. In the long run, it could be more cost-effective than regular replacement of physical installations.

In London, the UK, Superdry leveraged LED displays to adorn its storefront at Heathrow Terminal 3. It was constructed using customized LED modules, enabling the display of vibrant videos and advertisements targeted at international passengers. This modifiable façade catches the attention of passersby with dynamic digital visuals. Moreover, it can ensure that the brand’s messaging remains relevant and engaging over time by showcasing up-to-date content.

Video Source: Dynamo LED Displays 

The Takeaway 

When planning for your retail (re)design, don’t overlook the importance of exterior branding alongside interior layout considerations. Your storefront is a powerful advertising tool, offering limitless possibilities to convey your brand image and values. From fixtures and lighting arrangements to building materials and digital screens, every element plays a part in shaping brand equity.

A massive budget is not a must for making a powerful marketing impact with exterior branding. There’s always room for experimentation and creativity in exterior design, regardless of the amount of investment. By maximizing the potential of your storefront through meticulous design exploration, brands can attract visitors, increase awareness, and create memorable experiences that resonate long even after they walk past or leave your stores.

So, whether you’re launching a new retail location or giving your existing ones a refreshed look and feel, make sure to pay attention to the exterior as much as the interior for a complete, comprehensive, and compelling retail experience.