How great branding affects the design of the interior space

First things first – What is brand identity?

A strong brand is not just a neat looking logo. In today’s competitive market, a brand is much more. A brand, when you think of it in terms of brand identity, is a visual graphic (this includes a logo, images, typography, and colors) combined with the experience you provide to your clients. I like the way blogger and brand/website designer Rosanna Clarke explains brand identity:

  • Your brand is your business’ personality/identity
  • Your brand is the experience customers receive when they interact with your business
  • Your brand is how your business looks, sounds, feels and acts
  • Your brand is your business’ reputation (“what people say about you behind your back”)

This being said, in today’s post, I want to talk about the relationship a strong brand has on the aesthetic and interior design of a space.  If you own or run your own business from/in a physical space (retail or hospitality and not online) you should give your branding and the interior design of your space some good thought.

Case Studies

I want to do a little case study and look at two brands. I want to talk a bit about a brand everyone knows and loves: Starbucks, and take a look at a less known local brand that is taking the Toronto food scene by storm, ice-cream parlour brand: Sweet Jesus 

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One of Sweet Jesus’ edgy yet youthful campaign photos
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The products reflect the branding which in turn reflect the interior design. This photo (from Sweet Jesus’ Instagram account) was taken against a painted aquamarine wall meant to encourage customers to share pictures of their desserts on Instagram. 
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So Starbucks …

We all know (drink, eat, spend a massive time using their furniture, wifi…) this brand and have seen it grow and develop into a massive corporation.  The logo has evolved, as well as the interior aesthetic.  I don’t want to get into too much detail about this brand, as there is so much to talk about here, but this company is a very good example of great brand identity.

                      “When you walk into a Starbucks, what do you feel”?

Each Starbucks looks slightly different, has different finishes and a different interior color palette, and yet, you know you’re in a Starbucks when you’re standing in a Starbucks, and that’s without taking a look at their signage and logo.  Starbucks has done a great job of transferring a consistency (they almost always use a light and warm tone wood) to all it’s store without using the same exact look in every location, they developed a superb brand identity and have reflected their values and brand voice in the interior design.

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Image source: (                                                       

The aesthetic in each Starbucks is modern but comfortable, a little bit industrial, versatile and edgy. The stores cater to a variety of people; the guy sitting with the laptop who will definitely stay a while or the girl who just wants a grab and go coffee during the morning rush.  The store interior reflects the brand identity without being too literal, ei: the store is not green because the logo is green.

Click here  to read more about exceptional Starbucks interiors around the globe.

Now back to our local branding example…. Sweet Jesus

Sweet Jesus is a brand developed by Toronto restaurant group: Monarch and Misfits . The brand identity designers wanted to create something between My Little Pony and Metallica; a youthful and whimsy warmth mixed with an aggressive yet skillful edge Sweet Jesus campaign: .

Although I personally don’t think the interior design is that extraordinary, the interior designers did a very good job executing the brands youthful/whimsy and edgy/aggressive brand identity. They played off these two contrasting brand personality attributes with the materials that were chosen for the interior.

The edgy and aggressive personality is reflected in the use of industrial materials such as concrete, metal siding and corten steel.  The shop itself is located in an industrial space; the tall glass windows and steel window frames add to the industrial and edgy aesthetic.

These rough and raw materials are contrasted with the brands whimsical and youthful alter ego, some of the interior walls are painted a light aquamarine, the metal siding has been painted white, the wood on the ceiling is a light warm wood, the signage looks like it has been backlit with punk neon lighting and the bar counters are a pretty white and gray marble.

The overall interior is light, airy, vibrant, industrial, and edgy just like the brand and the desserts sold at this very popular ice-cream parlour.

Hope you learned something about the branding and why it is absolutely necessary to be incorporated into a physical space.  If you would like to continue this discussion, please leave your comments below.

Sweet Jesus location: 106 John Street, Toronto.
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Industrial materials are paired with a youthful and vibrant light aquamarine colour.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Life Outside of Design Studio and has been updated for accuracy and completeness.

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