Last year, telecommunications giant Sprint/Nextel spun off its land-line telephone, wireless and high-speed Internet units into a freestanding business called Embarq. Though nominally a newborn, Embarq is gargantuan – it has 6 million customers and 20,000 employees.
Hired to create a retail presence for this Baby Huey of a business was Winntech (Kansas City, Kan.). “Our charge was to create lifestyle-enhancement retail stores that would fundamentally change the way the company’s residential and business customers shop for communications services,” says Winntech senior principal Barrett Prelogar.
The stores would build on a visual identity that had already been created for Embarq by SALT, a San Francisco branding consultancy, including its brand colors (green and white) and its logo (an angular paper airplane).
“Embarq’s brand language is clean and geometric, with advertising and marketing collateral based on the acute angles created by folding lines and planes – a 2-D version of origami,” says Prelogar. “To create a store environment that fully exploits those visual attributes, we used angular custom fixtures, origami in the form of giant, folded-steel sculptures and a high-contrast color scheme.”
The 3000-square-foot store is divided into two zones: Communication and the Internet. “Like most telecommunications companies, Embarq offers a variety of products and services, which can be very confusing to consumers,” explains Prelogar. “We determined that we needed to simplify things by separating those offerings. Communication consists of three subcategories – mobile, home and business. The Internet side shows video, music, photo and gaming products and services that can be optimized through the use of a high-speed online connection.”
To demonstrate its capabilities in those seven areas, interactive LCDs for each were installed in the space. Each of those 40-inch touchscreens feature buttons that viewers can press to view “infomercials” that provide product and service information.
Designers also wanted to simplify and speed up the buying process. As a result, fixtures lining the store’s central aisle all house point-of-sale terminals.
“We distributed these island p-o-s stations throughout the store to ensure that customers can buy products and services right at the related display,” says Prelogar. “The thinking here was simple: like it, choose it, buy it, all in the same space.”
The p-o-s stations are housed within translucent flanges that reinforce the origami theme found elsewhere in the space. The units also shield what Prelogar describes as “the ugly back side” of the p-o-s equipment from view.
Thus far, 18 Embarq stores have landed in shopping complexes across the country, and Prelogar says several more are on the drawing board for the remainder of 2007.
Client: Embarq, Overland Park, Kan.
Design/Fixtures/Interactive Systems/Signage: Winntech, Kansas City, Mo. – Barrett Prelogar, senior principal; Alistair Tutton, co-creative director; Sharon Sumner, art director; Stephanie Malcy, graphic design;Troy Calderwood, chief technical officer; Mike McDanield, senior programmer
Architect: Nearing, Staats, Prelogar and Jones, Prairie Village, Kan.
General Contractor: Construction Central Consulting Corp., St. Cloud, Fla.
Outside Design Consultant: Larson Binkley, Overland Park, Kan. (lighting and engineering)
Flooring: Lonseal, Carson, Calif.
Lighting: Juno Lighting Group, Des Plaines, Ill.
Amerlux Lighting Solutions, Fairfield, N.J.
Paint: Sherwin-Williams, Kendallville, Ind.
Photography: Dan Hoff Photography, Jupiter, Fla.