Recently, Entrepreneurs Unpluggd wrote a feature on the benefits of building out physical spaces to promote brands. This can be particularly ideal for seemingly unexciting brands like ING and State Farm, a bank and insurance company, respectively that need to channel more creative outlets to reach younger audiences. That’s why ING Direct Cafe and State Farm’s Next Door Cafe (a client of ours) were developed as a rather unique marketing strategy in a Facebook “like,” Twitter “follow” market.
If you’re familiar with the concepts or have visited these brick-and-mortars, you know it’s not just mere bank or an insurance company branches serving coffee but WiFi-equipped coffeeshops accented with brand-enhancing features and touchpoints.
At ING Direct Cafe for example, you can drop in for a cappuccino and inquire about a savings account or at Next Door Cafe, you can fuel up on a chai latte and then chat with a financial coach about improving your credit score. And there’s no pressure if you’re just there to find some peace and quiet and free WiFi.
Entrepreneurs Unpluggd wanted to remind the oft-skeptical that can’t immediately envision the initial ROI, what the benefits are: The mere exposure effect (having their logos on morning coffee); social benefits (having a community presence)’ and targeting a niche market (and finding a creative way to make seemingly “boring” brands “cool” and engaging).
Here’s what inspired the writer, Stella Fayman thought about “baristas doubling as bankers”:
The concept of thinking about spaces to build brands is building steam: companies see the success Apple has experienced branding their stores as places to come hang out, play with their products, and have free internet. Attention to design and user experience in these stores is paramount, as is the consistent emphasis of having friendly customer service folks on hand to shoot the shit…or talk about products.
Recently, State Farm ventured in community brand building by opening a coffeeshop/hang out/event space called Next Door on Clark and Diversey. State Farm’s logo is seen almost everywhere, but it’s definitely not egregious, and the spot has grown in popularity as being a neighborhood staple since its opening. State Farm is clearly trying to label itself as the “cool” brand for the younger generation with efforts such as this (and sponsoring OK Go videos) in addition to their regular advertising aimed at an older demographic.