Recently, two contributors to SimpleDevCo each grabbed a sweet weekend getaway in Cambria, California…without knowing the other’s plans! In search of finding inspiration for business design, they let their minds open.
This small town is a popular weekend destination located nearly exactly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, in San Luis Obispo County. It is well-loved by both nature lovers and those who prefer indoor activities: a visitor can choose from picturesque hikes, beach walks, or shopping among the variety of eclectic small businesses.
There is no shortage of inspiration in this little village. A quick internet search will provide a plethora of travel blogs and tourism sites, recommending the best local eateries, shopping spots, and nearby natural attractions.
It is described by many of these writers as having an “Old English” vibe, which is even in the name: “Cambria” is a Latinized version of the word “Wales” – yep, like the country in the United Kingdom!
One can use the internet to search for which shops to check out, but the results are so plentiful that it’s sufficient to merely wander on foot down Main Street and walk through whatever doors look pleasing.
As a multiple-visit tourist in this town, I can say that this town absolutely whisks me away from the outside world. Time slows, the internet stops ruling my decisions, and I can focus on whatever catches my eye.
This is a great example of “branding” in the physical sense. The majority of shops in Cambria are antique stores, tourist gift shops, privately owned specialty shops, high-end art galleries, and more.
These types of businesses both follow and contribute to the brand of the town itself. If the iconic Main Street of this town was populated by department stores and fast-food chains, it simply wouldn’t be the same quaint town it’s currently known as.
While keeping with the “atmosphere” of this charming town, each store also has its own smaller atmosphere upon entry.
A shop is an extension of its title, just like a brand is more than simply its logo (read our blog on that, here). The design means something more.
Business owners must know that regardless of the sales medium used (brick-and-mortar, online-only, business-to-business), the feeling customers get when they shop is the driving force behind their spending choices.
A shop’s atmosphere can (and should!) be supplemented by graphic business design, advertisements, and the many other aspects of company branding.
A simple example is the website of Black Cat Bistro in Cambria, an intimate and elite dining location.
Many smaller restaurants don’t spend time and money on web design, but this website manages to communicate the atmosphere of this bistro while remaining very simple.
The logo clearly takes inspiration from Le Chat Noir, which communicates to a visitor that this bistro provides a Parisian atmosphere.
The same logo appears as a large eye-catching sign in front of the bistro, which I’d argue subconsciously looks familiar to many because of its similarities to the extremely popular Le Chat Noir poster.
So whether I look up this restaurant online or just happen to pass by, I have formed an expectation for the atmosphere, and dining experience, of this restaurant. The business design has set expectations.
I challenge you to think critically about the atmosphere of your business. Is it centered around your ideal customer?
Every design aspect must mesh perfectly with your brand, and each design choice must be made on purpose. Let SimpleDevCo unify your business by refining your brand!