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NXTLVL Experience Design

Episode 49: Amber Bazdar

More Than an Iconic Yellow Boot with Amber Bazdar, Director of Global Retail Design, Timberland

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EPISODE SUMMARY

Amber Bazdar is a retail design maven who helps bring the story of Timberland, a VF Company, to life in stores. She explains that Timberland is more than a story about a factory that once was or the iconic yellow boot. It’s about feeling like you can handle whatever is being thrown at you. It’s about being bold. Host David Kepron and Bazdar talk about Timberland, store design, visual merchandising and making great experiences.

EPISODE NOTES

ABOUT AMBER BAZDAR;

Amber’s Profile: linkedin.com/in/amberbazdar

Email: [email protected]

AMBER’S BIO:

As a seasoned retail executive, Amber Bazdar’s sharp foresight, expertise, and ability to guide a traditional retailer into a new phygital generation has made her stand out in the competitive world of retail.

Amber’s diverse professional background includes retail design, visual merchandising, brand experience and fixture and lighting design.  Throughout her career, Amber has excelled at developing and growing retail locations through innovative design and visual merchandising strategies, solving complex “back of house” problems with advanced solutions and attracting and developing high performing talent.  A vibrant and proactive leader, Amber excels at propelling corporate visual standards and creative direction while developing innovative concepts to engage customers.

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A life-long learner, Amber was recently an Adjunct Professor of Visual Merchandising at Lasell University, where she taught at the undergraduate level.  She has been involved with curriculum development, student/industry design projects and design competitions.

Amber currently resides in the Seacoast of New Hampshire with her husband, three children and their GSP, Luna.  She enjoys living near the mountains and sea, where she can enjoy nature frequently with her family.

Amber is also the recipient of the “2022 Retailer Innovator Award”

SHOW INTRO: 

A of lot of brands have a story. A narrative that underpins the entire enterprise.

These stories are crucial since they establish a framework helps define the customer, their needs and how the brand’s products or services is going to satisfy them.

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The brand story isn’t just about what the brand sells though, or who buys their stuff, it’s more a statement of what the brand is about, its essence, its raison d’etre.

It is what it means to be in business in the first place, why they do what they do and how they do it. It sets out a series of promises, that sort of act like a contract for engagement between the brand and its customers.

Let’s say you were single, you already felt pretty confident about who you were, you knew what you liked and knew what you needed in a relationship.

Let’s say there was a dating service… but it matched people like you with brands in an effort to create that special relationship. And let’s say that you thought that a relationship with a brand would make a great compliment to who you already were. It’s not that you need something, or someone, to make you whole but that a good brand relationship would just make experience better, more fulfilling.

Well, if there was such a service existed then you’d probably also want to check out the brand’s online profile. You know…do some research.

If you did, you might find that the story they’d likely tell may be a little aspirational – for example a friend who is out on the dating circuit, tells me that everyone’s profile says that they are into hiking… and dogs… they may only climb up and own the stairs at home and have a dog calendar hanging on the wall, but for some that may qualify.

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In any case, you’d hope that the narrative is authentic and is genuine.

You’re a little bit of a dreamer, you might even like the idea of hiking too, or maybe you area just optimistic, always looking for the thing that could augment your everyday.

If you moved along and you liked each other then you maybe you’d accept an offer to get together.

What you hope is that on the first date, and everyone after that, that it delivered what you were expecting. It held the relationship in the highest regard. And the act of doing life together, yes, made it your personal experience better. But more than that, you feel that you and this new brand relationship became connected. You felt that on some level you didn’t become one, enmeshed, indistinguishable from each other, but became better, interdependent, and that the relationship was generative. It grew you.

Some brands make up that foundational, ‘who we are’ story. They see a market opportunity. Build a customer profile, brand platform, product or service assortment and go to market. Others have an authentic origin story, a real life narrative, that lays the foundation for how they show up, every day, everywhere with everything they do.

Timberland is one of those brands.

A Russian immigrant buys a shoe company, dedicates his ingenuity and craft of making quality boots to growing a company. He creates a boot that is built for the harsh New England climate and it catches on becoming a pop cultural icon whose name has become part of the lexicon of a generation of musicians with rappers like Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z and DMZ calling them out in lyrics.

My sons call them Timbs and the signature yellow leather boot is as much a recognizable brand character as a blue box is for Tiffany.

This dating service I was imagining earlier, well it exisits, it’s pretty much anywhere you might come in contact with a brand. And the place for the first date also exists. It’s called the store. The store is like the physical manifestation of the brand story. It’s where the narrative comes to life surrounding customers in all that the brand is.

And this is where Amber Bazdar comes into the brand dating game metaphor. Amber is the Director of Global Retail Design at Timberland. She is a seasoned retail executive with sharp foresight and expertise built on a professional life working in and understanding retail.

Her ability to guide a traditional retailer into a new phygital generation has made her stand out in the competitive world of retail. In fact, this past year she was awarded the 2022 Retail Innovator Award.

Amber’s diverse professional background includes retail design, visual merchandising, brand experience, store fixture and lighting design. Throughout her career, Amber has excelled at developing and growing retail locations through innovative design and visual merchandising strategies, solving complex “back of house” problems with advanced solutions and attracting and developing high performing talent.  Amber excels at propelling corporate visual standards and creative direction while developing innovative concepts to engage customers.

I was able to catch up with Amber at the International Retail Design Conference where we had an early morning talk, well before my second cup of morning coffee.

To use some Timberland parlance, it was a ‘bold’ move to meet e breakfast and we got some ‘shit done’…

ABOUT DAVID KEPRON:

LinkedIn Profile: linkedin.com/in/david-kepron-9a1582b

Websites: 

https://www.davidkepron.com    (personal website)

vmsd.com/taxonomy/term/8645  (Blog)

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: DavidKepron

Personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davidkepron/

NXTLVL Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nxtlvl_experience_design/

Bio:

David Kepron is a multifaceted creative professional with a deep curiosity to understand ‘why’, ‘what’s now’ and ‘what’s next’. He brings together his background as an architect, artist, educator, author, podcast host and builder to the making of meaningful and empathically-focused, community-centric customer connections at brand experience places around the globe.

David is a former VP – Global Design Strategies at Marriott International. While at Marriott, his focus was on the creation of compelling customer experiences within Marriott’s “Premium Distinctive” segment which included: Westin, Renaissance, Le Meridien, Autograph Collection, Tribute Portfolio, Design Hotels and Gaylord hotels.

In 2020 Kepron founded NXTLVL Experience Design, a strategy and design consultancy, where he combines his multidisciplinary approach to the creation of relevant brand engagements with his passion for social and cultural anthropology, neuroscience and emerging digital technologies.

As a frequently requested international speaker at corporate events and international conferences focusing on CX, digital transformation, retail, hospitality, emerging technology, David shares his expertise on subjects ranging from consumer behaviors and trends, brain science and buying behavior, store design and visual merchandising, hotel design and strategy as well as creativity and innovation. In his talks, David shares visionary ideas on how brand strategy, brain science and emerging technologies are changing guest expectations about relationships they want to have with brands and how companies can remain relevant in a digitally enabled marketplace.

David currently shares his experience and insight on various industry boards including: VMSD magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board, the Interactive Customer Experience Association, Sign Research Foundation’s Program Committee as well as the Center For Retail Transformation at George Mason University.

He has held teaching positions at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.), the Department of Architecture & Interior Design of Drexel University in Philadelphia, the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (L.I.M.) in New York, the International Academy of Merchandising and Design in Montreal and he served as the Director of the Visual Merchandising Department at LaSalle International Fashion School (L.I.F.S.) in Singapore.

In 2014 Kepron published his first book titled: “Retail (r)Evolution: Why Creating Right-Brain Stores Will Shape the Future of Shopping in a Digitally Driven World” and he is currently working on his second book to be published soon. David also writes a popular blog called “Brain Food” which is published monthly on vmsd.com.

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The next level experience design podcast is presented by VMSD magazine and SmartWork Media. It is hosted and executive produced by David Kepron. Our original music and audio production by Kano Sound. 

The content of this podcast is copyright to David Kepron and NXTLVL Experience Design. Any publication or rebroadcast of the content is prohibited without the expressed written consent of David Kepron and NXTLVL Experience Design.

Make sure to tune in for more NXTLVL “Dialogues on DATA: Design Architecture Technology and the Arts” wherever you find your favorite podcasts and make sure to visit vmsd.com and look for the tab for the NXTLVL Experience Design podcast there too. 

David Kepron is formerly the VP - Global Design Strategies – Premium Distinctive Brands at Marriott Intl., responsible for the strategic design direction for Westin, Le Meridien, Renaissance, Autograph Collection, Tribute Portfolio, Design Hotels and Gaylord Hotels. He is also the founder of Retail (r)Evolution, LLC and NXTLVL Experience Design, LLC. In his latest venture, NXTLVL Experience Design, Kepron brings years of retail and hospitality design expertise to the making of meaningful customer connections at brand experience places around the globe. His multidisciplinary approach to design focuses on understanding consumer behavior and the creation of relevant brand engagement moments at the intersection of architecture, sociology, neuroscience and emerging digital technologies. As a frequently requested speaker to retailers, hoteliers and design professionals nationally and internationally, David shares his expertise on subjects ranging from consumer behaviors and trends, brain science and buying behavior, store design and visual merchandising as well as creativity and innovation. @davidkepron; www.retail-r-evolution.com.

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