Wind designs talking stores

Who was blown away by the Wind Mobile in-store experience?

Wind Mobile isn’t full of hot air when it says it values the power of conversation. It’s made that the central pillar in the design of its retail stores.
‘The entire retail brief was around having a conversation with customers and the integration of that online conversation into the stores,’ says Chris Robbins, chief customer officer at Wind.
Conceived by Halifax-based design studio Breakhouse, large wooden harvest tables serve as centerpieces to convey a sense of approachability, and wood is used in all tactile areas to the same end. Cash registers are absent to discourage separation between customers and service reps.
The interior, which strives for an international appeal, is predominantly white, incorporating a 16-colour palette to denote the diversity of Wind’s customers.
Given that the brand evolved out of social media, it was important that its online conversation with customers live offline, says Robbins.
To that end, four large wall-mounted screens show customer comments from Wind’s website.
The digital pièce de resistance is the integration of Microsoft’s Surface technology embedded in the harvest tables. The multi-touch interactive displays allow customers to compare devices and plans side-by-side, navigating pages by hand. Wind plans to use the tech to help customers further customize products and services.
We turned to two design experts, Curtis Priest, CEO and president of Toronto-based Pixelcarve, and Monique Gamache, design director at Calgary-based Wax Partnership, to see if they think Wind’s retail design will lure customers to the table.

Store design
Priest: Wind has done a great job differentiating its stores from the existing carriers. They have created an atmosphere that is innocently exuberant in its colour, illustrations and tactile components. It very much feels like a consumer experience, perhaps to the detriment of attracting corporate clients, but successfully portraying the type of service that Wind offers.
Gamache: I found the store nice and clean. Maybe a few too many hits of colour  overall on all materials. I understand that they’re going for an international feel, but they may have stopped in Sweden at an Ikea for a bit too long. I do find the in-store graphics, motion graphics, humorous copywriting and speech bubbles very appealing.

Reflection of brand positioning
Wind’s retail stores have an unmistakable Web 2.0 feel. Clean design, large icons, sans-serif typography and an encouragement for conversation. They have found an interesting way of transforming social media into a physical space.
Gamache: I didn’t really get “the power of conversation” from my visit or any online social media space where everyone’s voice is being heard, but Wind does have the opportunity to further align its design with its brand positioning.

Digital integration
Wind’s extensive use of digital works well with the youthful design of their stores. The inclusion of Microsoft Surface adds a unique and immersive element that will play well with young people who are accustomed to accessing information in interactive ways. The ability to access and easily understand a large amount of information from a single place integrates nicely with Wind’s desire to present clarity to their customers.
Gamache: The multi-touch, interactive computing platform was cool. It’s a simple new way to engage customers and sell confusing products, and it was fun to use it to compare phones and data plans. It made me spend time with the product and the sales guy – something I would rarely do.

The creds
retail design: Breakhouse
branding/visual identity: AmoebaCorp
communications, lead agency: Clean Sheet Communications
digital: Trapeze
public relations: Narrative Advocacy Media
media: Starcom MediaVest Group