Even pre-pandemic, traditional department stores struggled to meet the demand for more engaging brick-and-mortar retail experiences. Successfully filling this gap was Neighborhood Goods, a new type of department store that hosts DTC and brick-and-mortar brands, and offers events, dining and an assortment of experiences that encourage exploration and discovery. Later, as the pandemic swept over the US, Neighborhood Goods’ online sales increased substantially, encouraging them to rethink their digital retail experience for an increasingly online world. Turning to integrated creative agency Zero, they collaborated to design a new platform to match their philosophy and a branding refresh aligned with their ambition to transform the retail industry.
Zero understood that a guiding principle for creating the new site was to mirror the feeling you get from a physical Neighborhood Goods store - the curation, warmth and expertise of the staff, and their overall approach to storytelling. Working with their team, the agency made sure Neighborhood Goods’ values and perspectives came through on the new site – promoting discovery, and at the same time, building trust in their talent for curation while keeping the customer experience centered.
“Especially during a time when people can feel so siloed by the pandemic we wanted to instill the feeling of a neighborhood or community into the site to bring a human touch,“ says Zero Creative Director Chelsea Goldwell. “Because they host around 130+ partner brands at the same time, we also had to strategize around how to keep the experience unified. We're not only defining a single brand language for Neighborhood Goods but all the brands that they house as well.”
Tackling this challenge meant making sure that the site was designed and developed to be flexible enough to house different types and amounts of information without feeling too cluttered or empty at any point. This meant that everything, from ramen noodles to lipstick to full on workout machines, needed to be presented with respect for each brand’s voice. To do this, Zero adapted a design language of shapes and colors, using them on the site and owned channels as content frames or decorative elements to celebrate the many unique partners, products, communities, spaces, and stories that make up Neighborhood Goods.
“The more simple geometric forms are used to represent Neighborhood Goods’ partners, whereas the more bespoke forms with ink traps speak to the diverse team and people that make up the family of Neighborhood Goods,” explains Goldwell. “We also developed unique formulas of shape, color and typography to differentiate different parts of the brand such as values, collections, events, and themes.”
Zero also took great care to make the online shopping experience feel personal and truly curated, adding modules that highlight the Neighborhood Goods team and give their perspective on goods and brands, purposefully bringing in direct quotes and team member's photos into these moments.
This philosophy of personalization and flexibility extended to the management of the site, which allows the Neighborhood Goods team to change layout, look and feel regularly, and to easily create different content types such as collections, stories, and events. This approach also found a home offline, with the new design system giving Neighborhood Goods the ability to evolve as needed, whether opening new stories or growing their offering.
Zero was excited by the scope and scale of the project, driving the agency to be inventive in making sure that the magic of Neighborhood Goods translated online. “We love owning the entire process from strategy to brand to website, so Neighborhood Goods ended up being the perfect partner, allowing us to create a design system that translates seamlessly from printed material, to social, to the site,” adds Zero Account Director Andrea Meilgaard. “By looking at their brand and website holistically rather than as separate parts, we were able to create something that really rethinks how retail brands can engage their audiences online. Neighborhood Goods is a brand always looking for new ways to delight and we’re happy to be able to rise to that challenge.“
Zero is an integrated creative agency with offices in New York and Milwaukee. We specialize in building brands and digital experiences. We’re winners of Fast Company’s 2021 Innovation by Design Awards in the “the best graphic design” category. | www.zero.nyc