41 Customer Experiences to Learn From

Brand Experience Week wrapped up last week, but there are plenty of Brand Experience Briefs for you to learn from.  Check out these 41 videos that audit and analyze new or interesting restaurant and retail brands to learn the do’s and don’ts of customer experience design:retail customer experience

1. AT&T Retail Center:  With a name like “Retail Center for Innovation and Technology Center,” there’s no question the new store from AT&T is intended to be like no other.  And, it is indeed remarkable (a sort of Apple store meets the Enterprise bridge.)  But for however great of an experience it is, the objectives behind it may be somewhat misguided.  

2. Bonobos and Warby Parker:  Retail stores by e-commerce companies Bonobos and Warby Parker provides insights into how to design a brick-and-mortar retail experience for an online brand.

3. C9:  C9 is Target‘s new active apparel store at San Francisco’s Metreon center. Featuring apparel from Champion, the store is a cross between a Target and a Gap, and represents the company’s first move into specialty retail.

4. Caffe Bene:  Caffe Bene may be to Starbucks what Smashburger is to McDonald’s — a niche competitor with a distinctive product and memorable experience.

5. Capital One 360 Cafe:  Capital One 360 Cafes, featuring Peet’s coffee shops, are not your typical bank branches. 

6. Carl’s Jr. sports-themed restaurant:  The West-Coast burger chain, Carl’s Jr. opened a new sports-themed location. In this Brand Experience Brief, you’ll see the concept has good potential but hasn’t quite become a breakthrough experience yet.

7. Cinepolis Luxury Cinema:  Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas claims to be “a first-class movie destination.” This Brand Experience Brief shows how it lives up to that brand vision.

8. City Target:  Target is experimenting with a new store format, CityTarget.  The effort is intended to reach more Americans, and their money, who have been leaving the suburbs for the city.   Check out all that’s great — and a couple of things that aren’t — about the CityTarget in downtown Chicago in this video briefing:

9. Dannon & Chobani:  The Yogurt Culture Co. by Dannon and the Chobani store show two different ways to bring two different packaged foods brands to life in a retail store.

10. Denny’s on Fremont Street:  Denny’s is embracing the brand positioning “America’s Favorite Diner.”  Its new flagship location on Las Vegas’s Fremont Street reflects this new positioning, while including several Las Vegas touches including a working wedding chapel. 

11. Evolution Fresh:  Evolution Fresh, a juice-based restaurant concept from Starbucks, provides valuable lessons in how to design your customer experience to take a niche product mainstream. 

12. Fresh 2 Order:  Fresh 2 Order is a fast casual restaurant concept that seems to have a good thing going but lacks design excellence and coherence. 

13. Gap Redesign:  In “A Humbled Gap Tries a Fresh Coat of Pep,” New York Times journalist Stephanie Clifford reports on Gap’s efforts to revitalize its brand.  Key to the company’s strategy is a new store design, with the first iteration recently unveiled at the Grove center in Los Angeles.  Check out my video comparing that store redesign to an “old” Gap and learn how the changes are good, but more clarity, creativity, and cohesiveness are needed. 

14. George W. Bush Presidential Museum:  The George W. Bush Presidential Museum shows how a former President creates an experience that represents his personal brand. 

15. Gourdough’s Public House:  Gourdough’s Public House, a restaurant from the folks behind the famousGourdough’s Big. Fat. Donuts. in Austin, provides some helpful lessons in how to expand a restaurant concept beyond a signature product. 

16. Keep A Breast Foundation Pop-Up Shop:  If you don’t operate out of a retail space, you may wonder how you can bring your brand to life and engage your target community.   The pop up shop from Keep A Breast Foundation provides an excellent model for how to create a memorable, motivating brand experience.

17. LEGO:  It’s a solid experience for the LEGO brand, but they missed some opportunities to make it even more engaging. 

18. Lexus Centre:  Lots of companies talk about wanting to create “lifestyle brands,” but here’s an audit of a concept that actually does it.  The Centre at Lexus Escondido is more than a car dealership — it’s a brand experience that includes a restaurant, lounge, concert venue, business center — oh, and a place where you can buy cars. 

19. LYFE Kitchen:  LYFE Kitchen is a new restaurant concept started by a former McDonald’s executive who developed a conscience about good-for-you food.  Here’s my take on the experience and growth plans.

20. Modmarket:  Modmarket was named one of the top 5 hot concepts of the year by Nation’s Restaurant News – what distinguishes it from the other fast casual restaurants serving better-for-you food? 

21. Nike and New Balance: The New Balance and Nike stores across the street from each other in New York City’s Flatiron district deliver unique brand experiences in their own way.

22. Patagonia’s Tin Shed:  The head of retail marketing at Patagonia, Vickie Achee calls Tin Shed “a grand experiment” for the company. 

23. Pei Wei Asian Market:  Many fast-casual restaurant start-ups are trying to copy Chipotle, so it’s refreshing to experience one that does things it’s own way.  Pei Wei Asian Market, the newest concept from P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, offers a cool environment, innovative menu items, and affordable prices.  

24. Pie-o-logy:  Pie-o-logy, a new pizzeria concept inspired by Chipotle, delivers a remarkable brand experience 

25. PIRCH:  PIRCH, the new Fixtures Living, shows how you can transcend your category and create an emotional, memorable, and distinctive customer experience, even if you sell seemingly mundane items like dishwashers and backsplashes.

26. Protein Bar:  Everyone, it seems, is trying to figure out the healthy fast casual business.  From LYFE Kitchen in California to Energy Kitchen in New York, there are dozens of budding concepts attempting to make it big by tapping into consumers’ desire for food that’s fast and good.  How is Protein Bar in Chicago faring?

27. REI in SOHO:  REI’s first store in New York City is the quintessential flagship store – it’s big, it’s in a prominent location, and it showcases the brand like no other retail store. 

28. RH:  Restoration Hardware is undergoing a repositioning to a full-scale luxury lifestyle brand. The Boston RH Design Gallery shows how to successfully execute a brand repositioning. 

29. San Diego Public Library:  The new San Diego Public Library is the result of a 30-year, $185 million project designed to produce a community hub and a new cultural destination.

30. Steak n’ Shake Signature:  Steak ‘n Shake Signature in New York City’s Times Square is not your father’s Steak ‘n Shake.  With a retro-contemporary feel and upgraded menu, the classic diner change is trying to win over burger aficionados. 

31. SuperChix:  SuperChix, a new test fast food restaurant concept from Yum Brands, serves up what might be the best chicken sandwich on the market today — and an extraordinary customer experience too.

32. sweetgreen:  sweetgreen, a 30-unit salad quick serve restaurant concept, is a great brand in the making because the customer experience brings the company mission and values to life.

33. The Habit Burger Grill:  The Habit Burger Grill is one of the many “better burger” chains generating a lot of buzz these days. Although its charburgers do taste good, the company needs to work harder to differentiate the brand from all the other options. 

34. Therapie Boutique:  Retail fashion trucks are starting to hit the road in most major metro areas.  Here’s a look inside one of these hot innovations, Therapie Boutique.

35. Tom’s Urban 24:  Tom Ryan, the founder of popular better burger chain Smashburger, has started a new restaurant that’s a combination classic diner, hipster bar, and foodie haven, Tom’s Urban 24 

36. True Food Kitchen:  Farm to Table is a growing movement in American culture and True Food Kitchen, a new restaurant concept, is poised to seize the moment with a well-designed brand experience. 

37. Uniqlo:  Fast fashion retailer Uniqlo is on a roll.  I visited the company’s Herald Square location, one of three stores it has in New York City.  

38. Walgreens Chicago Flagship: Walgreens is trying to “transform from a traditional drugstore to a retail health and daily living destination,” according to Joe Magnacca, the company’s president of daily living products and solutions.  Its flagship stores showcase its new approach. 

39. Walmart Neighborhood Market:  Walmart Neighborhood Market, a smaller format store, competes against dollar stores and grocery stores — it looks to me like they just might win the fight.

40. Whole Foods Market Encinitas:  The Whole Foods store in Encinitas, California, brings the best of a farmers’ market and the best of a national grocer together, demonstrating how a national brand can engage its local communities authentically. 

41. Zinburger Wine and Burger Bar:  Most people think of pairing burgers with beers, but Fox Restaurant Group’s Zinburger is actually a burger and wine bar. 

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