Design Differentiators

One of the most effective investments any retailer can make is in their graphics; everything from business cards to outside signage to a web site and advertising materials. In general, outside signs last longer and provide more exposures and return on investment than any other marketing investment retailers will make. Consider how outside signage needs to attract attention from viewers time and time again. Those signs that command attention from regular travelers are examples of design differentiators. Business cards and web sites are other examples of design that customers can use to gain a preference towards one retailer over another. When was the last time you received a compliment from a customer regarding your graphics? What should that tell you?
A focal point is another approach to a design differentiator. Every display should have a focal point which is that area that is designed to attract a viewer’s eye and attention when they first make visual contact with the composition. Traditionally, the focal point is somewhere in the center grid area of a display. Every display should have areas of emphasis in addition to a focal point that compete for the viewer’s interest. When done effectively, a designer can predetermine how a shopper’s eye will travel throughout a display. Displays that lack a focal point are easily dismissed because they typically not very exciting to shoppers. 
The use of color is a design differentiator. Too often retail jewelers use neutral colors in their store environments and miss the opportunity to send a unique message to shoppers. Close your eyes and imagine your store. What color do you see? If you can’t see a color just imagine how bland your store might feel to shoppers. Of course, the jewelry needs to be the main accent, but that does not mean that color cannot be used to create an exciting store environment. Do you paint accent walls to add to the interest of the store’s atmosphere and architecture? Do you use a theme color in your brand graphics? Why not carry it over or use it to create more interest through a contrast with another color? Color can be a design differentiator because it can very effectively elicit emotional responses in shoppers. Many jewelry purchases are emotional purchases. Color can change how we feel. Why not use color to help initiate emotional states in store shoppers?
Selection can be a design differentiator. Jewelry shoppers are influenced by the selection of items within a specific category of products. Having variations a popular design of jewelry can be an effective differentiator. Consider how a differentiated listing of a particular design of product with the right style, right quality and right price generates so many sales. Having the right design of product is an effective design differentiator. 
What other means of design differentiation does your store use to create a competitive advantage? What other points of differentiation besides design do you use to gain the preference of your customers?

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