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Why pop-ups are great for brand building

Published on Tuesday, 9th May 2017, contributed by ClinkClink

ClinkClink's Creative Director, Alex Pearn, has grand plans for the summer. And he's following in the footsteps of some major brands intent on getting into the physical, not just online, marketplace.

I live in a very small village with a few hundred houses and like many villages our local pub has shut. I also have a barn, so this summer my wife Sophie and I are going to run a pop-up pub over a few weekends. The idea isn't a new one and pop-ups are happening all over the place with micro brands and mega brands all getting in on the act. In fact, it seems that after the boom in recent years of online, and the parallel decline of the high street, brands are once again embracing a physical presence in the marketplace.

First there was MINI’s pop-up car dealership in Westfield which set up around the time of the 2012 Olympic Games. (Research says that women don't like going to car dealerships. Take it from me: men don't either). Then Amazon opened a bookshop (and can't quite shake rumours that it's planning to expand to a chain of 400), and brands from beauty subscription service Birchbox to notebook-maker Moleskine all began investing more heavily in bricks and mortar retail spaces. Beefeater Gin even hosted a one-off gig at its London distillery last month. All very cool!

So, what’s going on? In a nutshell: increased loyalty and brand building. It’s not the physical presence that matters so much as finding a space to create a unique experience. Drinks brands like Beefeater want us all to come over to their place, see a band, see the gin factory and generally have a good time.

One of our clients, Pendennis Shipyard, who custom-build and refurb superyachts, sums things up well: whatever you’re doing, the experience needs to be fun or your customers will go somewhere else. It's true, fun is really nice! It's very easy to take events and measuring output very seriously. (And we should. They take a lot of money and time to produce.) But we should also make them fun, engaging and relevant.

But more than that, the pop-up store works so well for another reason: it is a small, condensed version of all that is good about a brand. A perfect microcosm of intent and energy that can be blogged, vlogged, experienced and enjoyed. A safe zone that gives the ability to interact on a personal level with consumers, a place that generates authentic content for social channels and allows your staff to experience life on the coal face rather than from behind a glowing screen. So, if you can pop up, maybe you should. See you at the bar.