Updated: 3 days ago
Take, if you will, the humble OXO Good Grips Peeler. Wrap your hand around the soft, ergonomic handle—oversized and contoured to reduce fatigue. Admire the swiveling twin blades, crafted from Japanese stainless steel. See how effortlessly they glide over your Russets, your Yukon Golds, each stroke lifting the thinnest layer of skin. Still sharp after all of these years, producing less waste and taking you from the sink to the table that much sooner. That’s what nineteen centimeters of thoughtful design gets you.
At our core, we believe that everything—every product, website, brand, experience—deserves good design. And good design can transform everything, even peeling potatoes, into something more.
More efficient. More inclusive. More exciting.
It doesn’t matter if you’re designing the brick-and-mortar space for a consumer-facing clothing brand or the brochure for your B2B manufacturing company. You could be selling software or potato peelers. The same holds true. You need to build engagement—and the best way to do so is with high-quality design.
It’s Going to Be Okay. You’re At MUJI Now.
Ylang-ylang and what is that—lemongrass?—emanate from soft, glowing orbs. Fine-point pens, in every color, stand at attention in their chosen buckets. To your left, a wall of slippers in various shades of oatmeal. This is not the sweaty pit of midtown Manhattan. No, this is a far cry from $1.50 pizza slices and rats darting across your feet.
You have stepped into MUJI, the minimalist retailer which takes its name from the Japanese for “no-brand quality goods.”¹ Life is now defined by order and tranquility, from the scents of jasmine and neroli to the aesthetically pleasing neutral tones and soft lighting.
Selling luggage, office supplies, home goods, clothing, and cosmetics, a retail operation as large and multi-pronged as MUJI might easily overwhelm. The fact that MUJI soothes, instead, is a feat of smart design.
As customers stroll by clean, clutter-free shelves displaying timeless, affordable items, they experience a calming and inviting atmosphere that’s fully consistent with the brand’s pared-down identity².
And while ylang-ylang is important—according to Forbes, 63% of consumers will spend more at a store when they have a positive experience³—MUJI’s brick-and-mortar design retains their “relentless focus” on the quality of the product, avoiding “any unnecessary decoration or ornamentation.”⁴
MUJI may sell generic items at affordable prices, but by designing in-person shopping experiences that feel luxurious, they stand apart from other low-cost retailers who, seemingly by design, put shoppers in a “get-in-get-out” mindset. MUJI also builds loyalty among the 77% of shoppers who consider the quality of an in-store experience to be “important” or “very important” to their perception of a brand.⁵
MUJI may feel special, but it’s far from the only magical retail experience. From cosmetic flagships to outdoor supply centers, a handful of brick-and-mortar spaces continually delight consumers with their cohesive branding and thoughtful approach to customer experience.
These are some of our favorites:
REI – Natural elements, climbing walls, and functional gear displays encourage REI’s visitors to take an active approach to the retail experience, inviting customers to try out new products, and perhaps, new adventurous lifestyles.
Glossier – The clean, monochromatic scheme of the Glossier flagship leaves space for the consumer to shine, setting the millennial fav apart from other makeup megastores and aligning beautifully with their products’ minimal packaging and sheer, buildable formulations.
Nike – With interactive displays, Nike leverages tech to inspire engagement and create personalized, cutting-edge customer experiences that speak to their high-performance, innovative sneakers.
Although each brand targets different consumers, they prove the power of intention, consistency, and inclusivity as it relates to the design of physical spaces. Through their beloved brick-and-mortars, they also show the importance of crafting a cohesive omnichannel brand presence—even in this highly digital age. Take Glossier, which started as an online-only retailer, but saw a distinct rise in sales and social media performance once they opened their stores.
B2B? You Still Deserve Better
So you’re selling SaaS, not sneakers. Your bread and butter is B2B, not beauty. You might ask:
Does great design matter as much if your audience skews more corporate than consumer?
Do you still need to invest in great design if your brand leans more effective or industrial, rather than aspirational or high-end?
What if great design feels antithetical to your brand identity—rather, what if the window dressing gets in the way of what’s important?
To which we’d answer:
#1 Corporation or consumer, you are always selling to people
Why let consumer-facing businesses have all the fun? Despite differences in strategies and sales cycles, B2B and DTC companies face the same essential hurdles and benefit from the same basic design principles. That’s because both types of businesses seek to engage with humans. Busy humans, who have problems to solve (and want to solve them, quick).
Engaging content and interfaces that are clear, informative, easily navigable, and aesthetically pleasing will always win the day—no matter the audience.
#2 Every brand deserves beautiful design
And so does every user. It doesn’t matter if they’ve come to you for metal fabrication or help with their finances. It’s just good business to give your audience a great experience.
According to WBR insights, nine out of ten B2B buyers lean on online content to make their purchasing decisions. Studies also show that key decision-makers typically complete upwards of 70% of their buying research before they even contact sales. That means intuitive layouts, appealing colors, and concise, commanding headers can go a long way toward transforming curious leads into real-life partners.
Just look at Square. Users who visit the payment company’s website immediately understand the utility of the tool and how it can elevate their own enterprise, big or small. With a clean, skimmable homepage that can be customized according to industry, Square’s design never neglects the human on the other side (even if that human happens to be browsing on behalf of their business rather than themselves).
#3 Great design doesn’t add value—it drives it
You want to communicate why you exist and who you serve. This, you believe, is your meat and potatoes.
Maybe you’re worried that if you spend too much time or energy on design, you’ll lose track of what’s essential. You’ll burn the meat and potatoes. And once you do, there’s really not a lot that ketchup can do.
First, stop thinking of great design as a condiment. Think of it more as the cast-iron skillet that takes your steak from a hunk of blah to a sizzling, succulent masterpiece. Great design isn’t a fun addition or afterthought. It should be foundational to your brand and service and, at its core, functional.
This is true whether you're selling skincare or software as a service.
Setting the standard is a brand you might know, Figma: a design platform that instantly captivates anyone who stumbles upon the site with bold headers and clickable features that invite interaction. As you scroll, your cursor suddenly appears as part of the canvas, mirroring the ongoing animation that illustrates how the platform works.
Part demo, part daydream, the homepage design is cool. (And it needs to be. It’s a design platform.) But it serves a distinct purpose: hooking users on the collaborative, dynamic product by way of the collaborative, dynamic UX.
It’s not the cherry on top of a pretty sweet product. It is the product.
Get Over Your Design Misconceptions (And Get With TwoLips Creative)
It doesn’t matter if you want to work some magic with a new brick-and-mortar or craft an immersive digital journey. Great design transcends all—touchpoints and industries included.
Whether you’re DTC, B2B, or somewhere in between, you can emerge at the forefront of fun, beautiful design. You can break rank with the status quo, unlock your true brand potential, and build lasting affinities with your audience.
With the help of our expert designers, illustrators, strategists, and branding specialists, great design is in your hands. (It’s okay, you can put down the potato peeler.)
¹Jessica Liang. The Success of Simplicity in Response to Consumerism — MUJI. https://medium.com/writ-150-at-usc-fall-2020/the-success-of-simplicity-in-response-to-consumerism-muji-9e72a550620c
²MartinRoll. Muji – The Global Strategy Behind The Japanese No-Brand Brand. https://martinroll.com/resources/articles/strategy/muji-the-global-strategy-behind-the-japanese-no-brand-brand/
³Forbes. Brick-And-Mortar Shoppers Have Spoken: Offer Great In-Store Experiences Or Kiss Customers Goodbye. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2022/05/16/brick-and-mortar-shoppers-have-spoken-offer-great-in-store-experiences-or-kiss-customers-goodbye/?sh=5e3185c91b70
⁴RetailDive. The beauty of building the in-store experience. https://www.retaildive.com/spons/the-beauty-of-building-the-in-store-experience/641816/
⁵Worldwide Business Research. Here's How the Relationship Between B2B Buying, Content, and Sales Reps Has Changed. https://www.wbresearch.com/relationship-between-b2b-buying-content-sales-changed-insights
About The Author
Olivia Wisden is the Founder + CEO of TwoLips Creative. She has worked with dozens of brands over the years ranging from city initiatives to product launches and beyond. When she’s not fan-girling over the design team’s illustrations she can probably be found reading a novel or attending a boxing class.