Brands are beginning to invest in brand homes, flagship stores, retail locations, and pop-up shops again as in-store retail and tourism return to pre-pandemic levels in many areas of the world. I consider brand homes the epitome of these physical experiences as they bring to life the essence, history, and values of a brand for visitors. Just like brands, the best brand homes stand the test of time by evolving to keep up with consumer trends while staying true to the brand’s core value.
Here are three of my favorite examples of unique brand home destinations:
Gucci opened the Gucci Museo in 2011 in Florence where Guccio Gucci first founded the fashion house in 1901. The opening was part of the fashion house’s 90th anniversary celebration. In January 2018, the museum was expanded by creative director Alessandro Michele and renamed Gucci Garden. Gucci Garden includes exhibition rooms, an expanded boutique, and a fine dining restaurant featuring cuisine created by three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura. The museum includes iconic pieces from the fashion house’s history along with items from the latest collections. Gucci partnered with the online game Roblox in 2021 to bring the Gucci Garden to fans all over the world through a limited-time virtual experience as part of the luxury brand’s 100th anniversary celebration.
Guinness Storehouse Brand Home
Diago first opened Guinness Storehouse back in 2000 right next to the historic St. James’s Gate Brewery where the famous stout has been brewed for over 250 years. The seven floor attraction tells the history of the brand through exhibits, tastings, and presentations. In 2010, Diageo partnered with design company BRC Imagination Arts and Event Communications to refurbish the popular location. The enhancements included adding multimedia and interactive displays to bring the story of the brand to life. The brand home was the number one tourist attraction in Ireland in 2019 welcoming over 1.7 million visitors. Diago recently announced plans to expand the concept to London by opening a Guinness microbrewery offering tours, a restaurant, and event spaces.
Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds)
In 1995, the crystal glass manufacturer Swarovski partnered with multimedia artist André Heller to create Swarovski Kristallwelten (Swarovski Crystal Worlds) in Austria to mark the centennial anniversary of the company. The destination has welcomed millions of paying visitors and has expanded multiple times since opening to include activities for all age groups. The attraction features a retail store, garden, restaurant, playground, labyrinth, and art museum with ever changing exhibitions. Swarovski crystals are prominently featured throughout the design of the location, including 15 million crystals in the rideable Carousel.
Is A Brand Home Right For Every Brand?
Only a small subset of brands should consider investing in the creation of a brand home. There are significant design, construction, refurbishment, and ongoing operating costs that go into creating and maintaining physical brand homes. The most successful are from brands that have significant affinity and history to drive visitation for decades. Many are in or near popular tourist destinations that have a historical connection to the brand. There are alternatives to creating a physical brand home that can still provide the benefit of brand building.
A great physical alternative is a pop up experience that can provide many elements of a brand home without the large expenses. Another option is the growing popularity of digital brand homes in metaverse type virtual worlds like Decentraland or gaming platform Roblox. Remember that commerce is only one part of developing a digital brand experience, physical brand home, flagship store, or pop up. Successful brand experiences provide fans with a unique fun or educational experience first. An experience that goes beyond shopping will help deepen brand affinity and engagement.