top of page

What is a brand home?

I get asked this all the time. So let me break it down for you.

A brand home is a term commonly used in the design and marketing industry, for a physical location, visitor centre or experience that represents a company or brand.

It is a place for customers to connect with the brand, learn more about its history, values and products, and even enjoy a shopping experience. They are designed to create a strong emotional connection with customers, increase brand awareness, and foster brand loyalty.

They primarily serve as a marketing tool. However, when done well, they can be so much more and, more importantly, a lot of fun to visit, or even work at.

They come in many guises, so you have probably visited one already. Distilleries, vineyards, breweries, factory tours, stadium tours, museums, galleries, theme parks and flagship stores can all be brand homes.

People are increasingly choosing to invest their valuable time and money in experiences rather than merely purchasing things.

The brand home takes advantage of this, and using design and storytelling, gives its audience, the consumer, an authentic and engaging experience.

As a visitor to a brand home, you might see a company's archive, artefacts, advertising, prototypes, production line and more. You might be invited to go on a tour, sample products, or be asked to participate in activities, such as games, apps or seasonal events and festivals. You could eat in their café, drink in their bar, travel on their bus, or even stay overnight in their hotel.

A brand home offers visitors the chance to spend more time getting to know the brand, which can range from several hours to even overnight stays and even longer experiences. This is in contrast to an online experience, where visitors spend very little time engaging with the brand and can become distracted or even overwhelmed by information and the competition.

Investing in bricks and mortar and personnel doesn't come cheap though. But a brand home can set your company apart from the competition.

And they don't have to be elaborate spaces that cost millions either. They can be as simple as one person walking you around a vineyard. Get it right and it doesn't have to cost the earth to make a lasting impression.

Companies that have invested in creating a compelling brand home experience can see a significant return on investment. But money cannot buy the thing all brand homes need, people with passion and personality, to tell their stories. These are the people that encourage visitors to feel passionate to learn and engage with a brand on the day of their visit and to shout about it in the future.

But there's more.

The brand home can convey the brand's message on sustainability or new product development. They can educate on diversity and inclusion.

The brand home is also a powerful preserver of history. Many brands choose to redevelop historic properties, that without significant investment could have been lost to a community forever.

And, as I wrote in my design degree dissertation, entitled 'Design for Dementia', these buildings, brand histories and archives can also be shared, not just to provide a fun day out, but for something much deeper, and that's reminiscence therapy.

Research has shown that reminiscence therapy can help people with dementia and depression focus on positive and rewarding aspects of their past, to foster a greater sense of well-being and positivity in their everyday lives. I know from personal experience with my mother who lived with Alzheimer's. Taking her to museums and visitor centres, where we shared and discusses archive material on show which, in some small way, related to her past, allowed us to experience visible and emotional connections with her. And for carers, that moment of clarity and connection is priceless.

I am also extremely passionate that brand homes engage with everyone, no matter what their ability. I have come across several examples but in no way enough, of spaces where all guests have the opportunity to connect and engage with the brand and the exhibits or products on show. Brand homes that through space, sight, touch, sound, and even smell, provide engagement for all.

We're not just talking about a lift or an accessible bathroom here. I believe all bathrooms should be accessible anyway. No, I'm talking about braille and raised texts, audio guides, hearing loops and sign language interpretation, plus models and exhibits to touch as standard, rather than an afterthought or something that has to be requested by the visitor. No one should feel excluded.

The brand home experience is all about building a relationship and both sides should care about the other and feel equally valued.

The brand wants to bond with you and share its hospitality with you. You want to be entertained and learn something.

If you like what they offer, the brand hopes that you tell everyone, so you become their free ambassador, and you give them a whole new audience to promote their products and services to.

But what I enjoy most is meeting the people behind the brands and experiencing something that I just can't get online. The storytelling, design, historical and sensory elements and most of all, the sense of place.

You never know what you'll learn or experience on this journey.

​Images shown are of:

Toyota Megaweb, Tokyo, Japan (sadly now closed)

Photographs: ©Julie White unless noted otherwise

Disclaimer - The views and opinions expressed are solely my own. Please drink responsibly.


bottom of page