SUPPLEMENT: DESIGN AWARDS 96; Industry Sector awards: Best use of design in retail and distribution marketing sponsored by MCA Group



Client: Orange Personal Communications

Consultancy: Wolff Olins

Project: Orange Stores


Client: HMV

Consultancy: DRS Advertising

Project: HMV Direct mail order catalogue, packaging and welcome pack


Client: The Holding Company

Consultancy: The Cato Consulting Group

Project: The Holding Company store interior


Client: NatWest

Consultancy: Design House Consultants

Project: NatWest Prime retail stores


The creation of the Orange brand is a textbook success story, so it made

sense to use the original design team when it came to converting

Hutchison Telecom Retail’s mobile equipment stores. The new stores,

which would sell only Orange products, had to be marketed to ensure they

would be seen as an extension of the brand. It also had to distinguish

them, in service terms, from competitors like CarPhone Warehouse and BT.

As Wolff Olins worked its way through the brief, it kept coming back to

an analogy of a market square, which lent itself to activity in the

centre and calmer surrounding areas. It translated this into an area

within the store where customers could interact with products, with

service, products and demonstration opportunities on the fringes.

Sales staff are able to demonstrate fax and data there, for example,

putting the images onto screens so that a wider audience could benefit.

And the screens can display messages about Orange benefits and the shop

design’s background.

The solution used simple, inexpensive materials, MDF shelves and

laminated cupboards, and a central ‘bar’ containing phones inside the

unit, with glass beneath them looking into a large fish tank. Customers

are encouraged to touch the products.

More detailed information can be found around the edges, and visitors

can ‘surf the Net’. Wolff Olins also co-ordinates marketing material

relating to Orange from different agencies to ensure consistency, and

simply extended this to include the design scheme for Orange shops.

So far, the new shops have been very successful. Although they now only

sell Orange, sales have increased by 50% since the change. The shop

staff have all expressed enormous enthusiasm for the scheme.


If customers are being pampered in other areas of retail, why not

financial services? In November 1995, NatWest opened the UK’s first

seven-day ‘Financial Store’ in Lakeside Shopping Centre, Thurrock,

followed by a second in Basingstoke a month later.

The concept was geared to creating an environment where customers could

feel comfortable and relaxed, giving them time to discuss their

financial affairs. The design combines technology with an open, friendly

feel, focusing on customers as individuals, so raising their confidence

levels in the ability of the bank to deal with all their financial

needs. It makes the stores easily accessible, yet retains the existing

corporate identity, and reflects the wide range of product offering



Storage is a problem for most city dwellers with limited space, so a

store that can sell ‘everything and anything to do with it’ has a good

chance of success. The Holding Company set out to do just that.

The design brief asked that the store should have a residential feel,

allow for a broad range of tastes, and display the product range openly.

The result is elegant but simple, light, warm and cheerful. It includes

a series of loose, room-like settings with unexpected, in-situ features,

such as using the under-street coal holes to create a laundry room

setting. Cato designed all elements, including the corporate identity,

signage and other graphic elements.

From the start, the store has had a very high profile, with orders

coming from as far as Japan.


Shopping for sounds used to be a relaxed affair, but no longer. Shoppers

are bombarded by so many musical genres it leads to a feeling of

alienation, and they lack the time to browse. HMV realised this

combination had lost them a market they once owned - the now ‘30-


HMV Direct was its response - a high-quality home shopping service

giving access to 200,000-plus titles. But its success depended on its

design. It had to reflect established HMV values, use classic direct

marketing, yet attract a more sophisticated and upmarket audience.

After a month, more than 20,600 catalogues had been bought, with a

conversion-to-first-order in excess of 19%. The average purchase order

from customers with a catalogue is 20% higher than from those without



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