Linger Longer: A Branding Imperative
"Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language," wrote Henry James. I couldn't agree more. I just love summer. Summer is the time for a new speed. For sauntering and slowing down. For purposefully stretching those extra long afternoons into all sorts of pleasurable outdoor activities like gardening or grilling or just unscheduled hammock time. For three- or four-day long weekends spent with family and friends or just catching up with yourself. For easy everything.
I think brands have a lesson to learn from this time of the year. Summer is the season that encourages lingering. Brands that consciously create space and time for customers to linger within their brand experience win their hearts. Grant it, sometimes you want to dash into a store (or website), hunt down your purchase and leave promptly. Other times, a store, a site, an atmosphere is so compelling you want to linger and linger and linger some more.
Terrain is one of those kinds of places. It's part of the Urban Outfitters family of creative retailers whose stated goal is "to offer a product assortment and an environment so compelling and distinctive that the customer feels an empathetic connection to the brand and is persuaded to buy."
Terrain was designed purposefully for leisurely strolls through all its "mini-terrains"—eclectic little rooms and areas that beckon customers with all sorts of indoor-outdoor lifestyle products the company hopes you'll find irresistible. The merchant has waved its magic fairy dust over everything: meals, merchandise assortments and even Web copy to create a menagerie you want to somehow recreate in your own life.
Terrain has elevated lingering to an art form with experiential pauses built into its brand DNA. Both stores have delicious "farm-to-table" restaurants that encourage spontaneous long lunches and Sunday brunches, as well as scheduled events and workshops. Here's the invitation the Terrain restaurant in Glen Mills, Pa. puts forth:
Share our local, organic meals with close family and friends as you create lasting memories in our charming antique greenhouse. Taking your personal style, interpreting it by our talented culinary team, and presenting it all in our horticultural setting, we'll create a truly unique experience for you and your guests. We work tirelessly to craft an environment that aesthetically and gastronomically reflects the cycle of the seasons.
President Wendy McDevitt shared this in a Bloomberg interview: "Customers typically spend 1.5 hours browsing Terrain and that can double to three hours if they're visiting the café and shopping between glasses of wine or lunch. The one thing you can't get in the cyberworld is the tactile experience and that won't go away."
Lingering happens online as well as you stroll through their three main categories with simple teasers like Garden + Outdoor, House + Home, Jewelry + Accessories. Spend time on Terrain's site and you'll want to know more about Branches + Bunches or what's in The Reading Room or what Wanderlust is all about. You are enticed by the plus and you aren't disappointed. The Bulletin, Terrain's eclectic, informative blog is like a gardening class, cooking class, landscaping class, and artist date all rolled into one lovely scroll you can't help but linger on.
Does your overall product experience invite lingering? Is it a sensory, tactile experience? What unusual product assortment combinations might you create to entice your customers to linger longer within your brand?
Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.