For this project, I visited the Hobby Lobby store here in Ames to critically analyze their brand experience. I noticed the two things they were striving to convey were “savings” and “wide selection.” The treatment of the exterior of the store strengthens that message. The store is a plain, beige department store with its name in uppercase bright orange letters. From the outside, it looks similar to other department stores known for wide selections and savings like Walmart or Target. Customers might assume that since the store is large, they must have a large selection. Their color scheme and logo convey a utilitarian message. They are trying to grab attention with their complimentary color scheme and large sans-serif type. They are not trying to look refined or sophisticated but rather inexpensive and efficient. Hobby Lobby creates the myth that this is the place people have to go to get the best deals and everything required for a project. One could go to several local stores or they could save time and money by just going to one. In reality, the store doesn’t have everything necessary for a project and they don’t have to best prices either. But it is easy to assume they do.
On the inside of the store, fluorescent lights seem to endlessly recede into the distance — making the store feel immense. Endless beige shelving units also add to the sense that this store is enormous and must have a large, inexpensive inventory. The lighting and shelving strengthen the cheap, efficient, and utilitarian messages the store is trying to send. One aspect that feels unintentional is their lack of any signage. Are they trying to make people wander aimlessly until they find what they need? Are they hoping people will be impressed with the magnitude of selection? Are they hoping people will impulsively buy things they didn’t originally plan on buying? Perhaps, but it was not a wise move. By choosing to have no signs, they sacrificed their message of efficiency. It takes so long to find things that it is almost easier to go to three smaller local stores instead.
As designers, it is important that we examine what the store is trying to convey. We should look at what elements strengthen or weaken the message. We should see what make the brand experience better or worse so that we can work to improve it. In Hobby Lobby’s case, the lack of signage does not help their message and it makes the experience worse so it needs to change.