A common question in the design world is whether it is more challenging to design something wholly original, from scratch, or to put a unique twist on something when working with a pre-existing design template. The assumption is often that the 100 percent original design concept is more of a challenge, simply because creating something new and inventive when there is “nothing new under the sun” is a significant hurdle for any designer. Often, though, the projects that test us the most at WJCA are the ones that require us to work within an existing set of standards. Where an original concept design is similar to a blank canvas with endless possibilities, a design that must meet certain expectations or standards poses what is perhaps an even loftier challenge.
How do you create something new within the framework of something familiar? Our team at WJCA is almost constantly seeking an answer to this question. While we certainly do original concept work, many of our design projects come from franchise clients. These clients—whether they are fast-casual restaurants, retailers, or something else—come to us looking for a specific kind of juggling act. On the one hand, these clients need us to help them create restaurant or retail spaces that look and feel familiar to the customers who know their brands. On the other hand, they are looking for designers who will be able to do new, clever things with those design formulas—whether it’s fitting the standard design elements into a smaller-than-average space or adding twists of local flair.
Our Franchise Design Work
At WJCA, we understand the unique needs that franchises face when designing new stores. Over the years, we have done work for a range of different nationally and globally recognized brands, including Party City, Mooyah’s, Villa Enterprises and more. These projects have put our skills to the test by challenging us to be creative within a pre-set collection of brand guidelines.
For instance, when we designed a Mooyah’s restaurant location in Newport News, Virginia, we knew we needed to play into customer expectations for details such as signage, color scheme, layout, and overall atmosphere. At the same time, we needed to protect Mooyah’s restaurant brand concept. We did this by having a full understanding of the “Brand”. Also, a lot of franchises that WJCA work with are either new to the business or have limited experience in opening new locations. WJCA partners with each of these to work through budgets, schedules and processes to open their stores.
That approach is one that we try to replicate each time we take on a franchise-related design project. Branding, when executed correctly, can work to guide a customer through a retail store or make them feel at home away from home in a restaurant. At the same time, it can make these spaces feel a tad faceless, thus inhibiting the true excitement that a customer feels when visiting their 10th Villa Enterprises location or their 20th Party City. By striving to create a mix of the old and the new, WJCA aims to inject new levels of excitement and innovation into these well-proven franchise design standards.
Are you interested in learning more about WJCA and our work designing store locations for established franchises? If so, get in touch with our team today.