Branding through interior design - incorporating unique lighting.

Creating a strong brand identity is essential for dessert shops, small retail stores and restaurants. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through thoughtful and intentional interior design. We have previously discussed the essentials of incorporating branding elements into your commercial space. Now, let’s explore some more examples of how you can use every opportunity in designing your restaurant, dessert shop or store to make your brand more memorable.

Photo above: Cloud Pendant Light by Forest Lighting on Etsy

1. Design an Inviting Entrance

A smart branding strategy takes advantage of every opportunity to make a lasting impression, beginning the moment potential customers lay eyes on your location. An inviting and visually appealing entrance not only sets the tone for their experience but also serves as a powerful introduction to your brand identity, establishing a connection before they even step inside.

Start with ensuring the entrance is meticulously clean, well-maintained and warmly welcoming, with clear and attractive signage. Seasonal decorations can add a touch of freshness and engagement, evolving with the time of year to maintain interest. Moreover, strategically using a distinctive, branded door and dynamic window displays can capture the attention of passers-by, offering a sneak peek into the store’s distinctive style and inviting atmosphere. These elements not only draw people in but also convey the unique personality and values of your brand right from the outset.

Nostalgic restaurant entrance that evokes old Italian cuisine.

Reinforcing a brand through interior design – Inviting restaurant entrance

For example, a boutique clothing store specializing in vintage fashion could feature a custom-made door with a retro design and antique hardware. The door’s color and style could evoke nostalgia while signaling the store’s timeless style and quality. A trendy lifestyle store known for eco-friendly products might use recycled wood for signage and minimalist plant displays flanking the entrance. This setup aligns with the store’s ethos of sustainability and natural living, appealing to environmentally conscious shoppers.

Donut store window graphics that exemplify reinforcing a brand through interior design.

Blondie’s Doughnuts shop design by Mindful Design Consulting

2. Showcase Brand History and Storytelling

Displaying your brand’s history and storytelling through visuals and narratives can create an emotional connection with customers and strengthen brand loyalty. You can use storytelling to convey your brand’s values, mission and heritage, and incorporate visuals such as timelines, artifacts and memorabilia. You can even host events or tours that share your brand’s story with customers.

Wall gallery that helps reinforcing the restaurant's brand through interior design and storytelling.

Wall art reinforces a restaurant’s brand through interior design and storytelling.

A family-owned dessert shop could showcase old photos, recipes passed down through generations, and anecdotes about the founders, creating a nostalgic and authentic brand narrative. A restaurant specializing in regional cuisine could decorate its walls with historical photographs of the local community, traditional recipes framed as artwork, and artifacts like antique cooking utensils. This display not only celebrates the rich culinary heritage of the region but also connects diners to the authentic roots of the restaurant’s menu and ambiance.

Restaurant that tells its story through pictures on the wall.

Wall gallery that showcases the brand history.

3. Use Statement Lighting

Statement lighting fixtures can serve as focal points and reinforce your brand identity. Unique lighting designs can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your space and create a memorable impression. Of course, you need to ensure that lighting is functional and enhances the customer experience. But you can go further and choose lighting fixtures that reflect your brand’s style. In addition, you can use dimmers or adjustable lighting to create different moods.

Colorful light fixtures in ice-cream store, contributing to emphasizing the brand through interior design.

Scoops N Smiles ice cream store design by Mindful Design Consulting

How does the idea os statment lighting translates into reality? For example, an urban farm-to-table restaurant showcasing locally sourced ingredients and sustainable practices might incorporate statement lighting fixtures inspired by nature, such as custom-made pendant lights shaped like delicate leaves or branches. An artisanal craft brewery housed in a historic building could feature unique lighting fixtures crafted from repurposed beer barrels or industrial-style pendant lights with exposed wiring and vintage bulbs.

Unique fish-shaped chandeliers and lush greenery in a casual restaurant.

Japanese-style fish-shaped whale chandelier by LabPiece on Etsy

4. Design Custom Furniture and Fixtures

Custom furniture and fixtures can set your space apart and help you customers remember you. This can include unique seating arrangements, bespoke display units and specially designed counters. Start by investing in high-quality, durable furniture and fixtures, and ensure that custom pieces are functional and comfortable. Design elements should be visually appealing and reflective of your brand.

Customized furniture in ice-cream store inspired by mid-century ice-cream parlors.

Besties Cool Treats frozen yogurt and ice-cream shop branding and design by Mindful Design Consulting

For example, a dessert shop with a vintage theme might feature custom-made booths and stools with retro vinyl upholstery in pastel colors. The tables could have chrome edges and Formica tops, reminiscent of classic 1950s diners. These nostalgic fixtures would create a charming and cozy atmosphere, inviting customers to step back in time while enjoying their desserts.

A playful ice cream parlor could have custom-made seating in the shape of oversized ice cream cones or popsicles, with bright, vibrant colors and fun textures. Tables could be designed to look like giant sprinkles or candy pieces, creating a whimsical environment that delights children and adults alike.

Colorful cupcake chairs in informal restaurant.

Cupcake Chairs from 2xhome

5. Use Branded Tableware and Packaging

Branded tableware and packaging are subtle yet powerful ways to reinforce your brand. Custom plates, cups, napkins, cutlery and take-out packaging can enhance the overall dining or shopping experience and keep your brand top-of-mind. Other examples are branded coffee cups and sleeves, personalized dessert boxes, unique serving trays, logo-printed tasting spoons or seasonal packaging.

You should choose designs that are consistent with your brand’s visual identity, while ensuring that the packaging is practical and complements the product. In addition, it’s always a smart idea to use eco-friendly materials to appeal to environmentally conscious customers.

Ice-cream packaging with store's logo.

Packaging design for Scoops La Jolla ice-cream shop by Mindful Design Consulting

Here are just a few examples. A playful, kid-friendly ice cream parlor might use brightly colored napkins and cutlery with cartoon characters and fun designs that match the shop’s lively and whimsical theme. By contrast, a high-end patisserie could use custom-designed porcelain plates and bowls with subtle, embossed logos and elegant patterns that reflect the sophistication of the brand. 

Bubble tea cups and straws emphasizing the store's brand.

Packaging design for Kung Fu Tea, Carmel Mountain Rd., San Diego, by Mindful Design Consulting

6. Highlight Local Art and Collaborations

Showcasing local art and collaborations can add a unique touch to your space and reinforce your brand’s connection to the community. This can include displaying artwork by local artists or working with local businesses for exclusive products.

Above all, you should use art and collaborations to tell your brand’s story, and you should curate those that align with your brand values. In order to reach a wider audience, promote these collaborations through social media and in-store displays.

Artist painting a wall and reinforcing a brand through interior design and customized art.

Art as a means to undercore your brand.

The opportunities are endless. A restaurant with an outdoor seating area could commission a local artist to create a mural on the exterior wall. The mural could reflect themes related to the restaurant’s brand, such as its culinary heritage or local ingredients, and become a landmark that attracts customers and tourists. Another one could develop a seasonal menu that features ingredients sourced from local farmers’ markets. This collaboration could be highlighted on the menu with detailed descriptions of each farm and the sustainable practices they use, reinforcing the restaurant’s commitment to local and fresh produce.

A bakery could partner with a local illustrator to create custom-designed packaging for their products, such as unique cake boxes or coffee cup sleeves featuring the artist’s work. These limited-edition designs could be promoted as collectible items, generating excitement and interest.

Artist at work in front of a large wall.

Using collaborations with local artists to emphasize a brand through interior design.

7. Create a Signature Scent and Develop a Soundscape

A signature scent can create a powerful and unforgettable sensory experience for your customers. Scent branding can evoke emotions and create a lasting association with your business. Additionally, background music or ambient sounds can significantly impact the atmosphere of your space and reinforce your brand identity. The right soundscape can enhance the overall customer experience and create the desired mood.

You should choose the scent, music and sounds that align with your brand’s personality and value. Ensure that the scent is pleasant, not overpowering, and that the music volume is at a comfortable level to avoid overwhelming customers. Use scent branding consistently across your space, and regularly update your playlist to keep the experience fresh. 

Collection of scented candles for a restaurant's sensory design.

Reinforcing your brand through interior design – Creating a signature scent

A dessert shop could use the scent of freshly baked cookies or vanilla, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere that customers associate with comfort and indulgence. A trendy coffee shop might play indie or acoustic music to create a relaxed and hip atmosphere, while a fine-dining restaurant could opt for soft classical music to enhance a luxurious and elegant ambiance.

Of course, you can always combine the two. For example, a modern vegan bistro could use a fresh, green scent with notes of basil, mint and lemongrass, reflecting its commitment to fresh, plant-based ingredients and a clean, modern aesthetic. The soundscape could include soft electronic music or ambient nature sounds like flowing water and birdsong, creating a serene and contemporary dining experience that aligns with the bistro’s brand values.

Music in a coffee shop.

Emphasizing your brand through interior design – Developing a soundscape

If you are thinking to open a new business or are in the process of rebranding and remodeling your existing business, contact us to get a free consultation from Mindful Design Consulting. Click HERE to price your project design.

Also, take a look at the “Branding By Interior” e-book, the only book written on this subject at this time. It brings insight into how you can turn your business into a market-dominating competitor by using human cognitive responses.

See our Small Store Design Extravaganza: Commercial Interior Design and Branding 01 book about branding small businesses from logo design to construction, with colorful images, offering insightful explanations every step of the way.

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