Better Branding for your Business (using lights!)
In earlier posts, we have talked about how certain light schemes can create different looks and can influence shoppers to buy or browse. Here, we're going to take a closer look at how these brand images are created via specific lights and light fittings.
Why are lights important to Brand Image?
- Lighting may not be the first thing you think of when thinking of how to construct a brand image. Logos, slogans and specific designs jump to mind first, as these are obviously what makes a brand identifiable among its competitors. However, if we were to say a certain brand name, such as Apple Store or Primark, you might think of the insides of a specific shop, which is heavily influenced and styled by its lighting.
- Lighting can create a uniformity across the brand, especially when the architecture of various shops can be so different. By having a recognisable lighting scheme, the brand is recognisable and can make people feel a level of comfort, as it creates a sense of familiarity.
- Studies have shown, as brands can also be seen to represent a certain lifestyle. The lighting helps create the illusion of this lifestyle as it reflects the house-style and message of the brand.
Real World Examples:
This brand is well known for its bright lighting. As we mentioned in our other article, this is to create a cheerful atmosphere, and to encourage quick sales and, as prices are always low, people do not stop to think over what they are buying. This is because bright lights make people feel they have more energy and productivity, and so are more likely to go quicker through the shop and impulse buy.
Bright whites and blues are Primark's signature colours and so the lights used reflects and emphasises this. This lighting draws eyes to all the clothing on offer, encouraging lots of spending on lots of products. As evident in the photos, the brand uses recessed down-lighting and T5 fluorescent tubes to create the ambient lighting across the shop, especially the walkways. Layering onto this is the use of track lighting and metal-halide bulbs for accent lighting.
This, rather extreme, amount of light means that this brightness can be created anywhere and doesn't have to rely on any natural light to create their image. In fact, in 2011, Primark employed lighting design specialists LAPD to help reduce the amount of light that was being wasted. The company reduced the amount of light on the walkways to make the contrast between it and the products on display more recognisable.
Going from one extreme to the other, Hollister also has a distinctive lighting scheme, just at the opposite end of the scale. Many people question why they would do this, as it doesn't make the shopping experience any easier, but the fact that people are talking about it is the exact reason why it works. The brand is now easily identifiable among all other brands and is generating publicity, as more people want to go and see this novel lighting for themselves, even if it is just to complain about it.
The darkened atmosphere, in contrast to Primark's bright openness, adds a feeling of exclusivity, as if you need to be a certain type of person to be allowed in. This goes back to branding and lighting creating a certain lifestyle, which makes the products more desirable. This desirability is only ramped up among Hollister's teenage market when adults criticise the shop and it's lighting, as it becomes more exclusively for them and appears more new and edgy, despite the clothes being similar to many others found on the high-street.
The lighting is designed to focus on the clothes and only clothes. The only noticeable light comes from track lights, with halogen bulbs, which are low wattage, to begin with, and they are boxed and closed so only a fraction of the light gets through, which is massively inefficient but allows for maximum object focus. Unfortunately, the halogen lighting can make it difficult to distinguish between blues and blacks which makes the already difficult shopping process even harder. This type of lighting encourages people to linger and look at all the different clothes and accessories on offer.
Sleek and bright, Apple designs it's shops as if it was a product. The brand, like Primark, uses brightness but Apple uses it to create a futuristic style and to reflect off of the chrome, metallic fittings found in the shop. This brightness links to a need to be seen as future innovators to keep ahead of their competition.
However, like Hollister, the emphasis is solely on the products lined up in neat, minimalist rows. This uniformity is especially important to Apple. Whereas clothes retail brands like Primark can afford slight changes to the style from shop to shop, because they are based in technology and pride themselves on precision, Apple needs a consistent design to reinforce this message.
The lighting in certainly meant to blend in, unlike the other shops which don't seem to mind having exposed lights, probably because it is difficult to conceal track lighting and so it becomes part of the shop design. Apple uses fluorescents in lightbox diffusers or LED panels in the ceiling that usually run along with the wooden display benches. Between these are a line of spot-focused bulbs which act as downlights, highlighting the products and floor. Another set of these downlights highlights the graphics on the walls.
The light temperature is played close attention to. Whereas in Primark, the blue light is close to daylight colour, and in Hollister, the light is a warmer colour, Apple uses fluorescents with a rated colour temperature of 4100K, which is equivalent to moonlight. This prevents the shop from having too sharp a contrast between walkway and products and stops glare appearing on all the screens but also makes it bright enough to be cheerful and spacious.
Even high-end brands are not exempt from lighting brand-making. Top brands all use similar, muted lighting schemes to encourage customers to take their time browsing each item, as there is normally less product than in Primark, and because the price tag means each purchase needs consideration. Brighter lights and contrasts put emphasis on the clothes and accessories, making them the focus, which also compliments the minimal display.
Top brands keep most of their lighting levels low to keep the atmosphere relaxed and comfortable. When spending large amounts of money on luxury goods, the emphasis is on making the shopping experience as pleasurable as possible. This goes back to the branding idea, as people are paying for a high-end shopping experience rather than simply shopping.
Notice those track lights? The fact that they are sunk into the ceiling, and are sporadically spaced means they are almost unnoticeable at first glance. This also provides greater positional freedom for them to light both the walkways and spotlight the products not on shelves. Sometimes lights with filter boxes are also used, depending on the level of natural light available in the shop. The shelves themselves and some clothing racks are halo-lit and some have downlights to greater emphasise the products and their exclusivity.
Aren't lighting schemes really expensive?
Surprisingly, this doesn't have to be. In fact, in a study done by Schielke and Leudesdorf in 2014, they found that the high-cost lighting did not always relate into high cost perception, whereas good, effective lighting did. As shown above, sometimes simple lighting tricks can translate into a strong brand image simply because it is consistent throughout the shop or shops, depending on the size of the business.
Also it seems from the examples above that so long as the lighting was relevant to the brand, the cost of the lighting was not the main concern. Plus if you switch to energy saving bulbs, not only will your brand be more eco-friendly, but you can also save money, especially with LampShopOnline's help with the Enhanced Capital Allowances scheme.
For more information on how LampShopOnline can help you upgrade the lighting in your retail business, call us on 0113 8876270 or follow the links to view our extensive range of LEDs and fluorescent tubes.