Feature Design Visual Merchandising Design
Feature Design Visual Merchandising Design

Dreams made real, through the power of design

Masaaki Oka

Oka: Once we created the Store Book, how could we get local project leaders excited about acting on it? How could we ensure they understood this brand framework and shared our feelings about it? One way was to construct model stores and demonstrate what we sought. This approach would convey our intentions directly and harness the power of design. With this in mind, we enlisted the help of local representatives. And now, the model stores we enthusiastically coordinated are finally opening, one after another.

Our first Asian model store opened in Hong Kong, and our first South American store opened in Buenos Aires. The former was created as a special place to welcome loyal Sony customers. The latter was an initial foothold in the local market. Each store targets a different demographic and was established for a different purpose, but they share the same ambiance. I think by comparing them, you can see the direction of our visual communication design.

Outside, for example, we make it a point to assert a sense of presence that sets Sony Style stores apart from their urban surroundings. The approach we have taken worldwide is to mark off the space stores occupy with a facade vaguely resembling a Japanese shrine gate, or torii. Our message here: step inside, and you've entered the world of Sony.

Inside, the stores are coordinated in white, silver, and black tones and accents. You'll notice a black band, above head height. The level of this band is noted in the Store Book, and it helps us carefully define product presentation and spatial appearance despite various ceiling heights around the world. The band also helps you get around the store. Just look at the band to find products in various categories, identified by Sony sub-brands such as BRAVIA and Cyber-shot.

There's a saying in retail that you must let people know what you're selling five seconds after they enter a store. By design, Sony products are appealing simple and offer desirable performance and functionality, in addition to reassuring usability. Demonstrate these qualities in elements of visual communication, and you end up with a place like a Sony Style store.

Ishida: On Takuya's team, I contributed from the stage of Store Book production through to particular facets of store graphic design.

I designed the facade, for example. Besides identifying stores by name, the facade includes an embedded plate bearing the Sony logotype, which reminds you the stores are managed by Sony. The sign is our proud signature, attesting to our confidence in introducing products here. That's why we gave the utmost care to details such as sign materials and the logo layout.

Inside stores, various things must be labeled, of course—counters, shopping bags, and so on. We also have exact specifications for the fonts used. Although fonts had varied by region or store, we took this opportunity to achieve a consistent image.

At one point, we were daunted by how to manage our sub-brand logos. Each has a different aspect ratio or brand color. Establishing individual store logo guidelines would leave us buried in technical information. We resolved this by defining comprehensive store logo rules, so that all in-store graphic elements have a neat appearance. These rules are in the Store Book. Sony Style is exclusively for Sony products, and there's no need to consider how to distinguish our products from those of competitors. I think we're succeeding in revealing the compelling blend of form and function Sony products are known for while building the Sony Style brand image.

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