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Raising the Bar

Posted by: Katie Conneally on December 18, 2012


“Bar” conjures thoughts of Friday night fun with friends, happy hour with colleagues and catching the game, cheering on the home team with fellow fans. A bar is that friendly neighborhood spot where everybody really does know your name.

A sense of fun and a tone of intimacy with customers can be elusive for brands looking to market their products and shape an image around being casual and social. Some businesses are leveraging the attributes of the neighborhood bar.

The trend may have kicked off with Apple’s Genius Bar, launched in their Apple Stores in 2001, but has continued to grow and expand into new categories of businesses. While some brands have adopted “bar” in their naming to convey a literal description, a la a salad bar of specific services or products, some of the new crop of bar brands are finding ways to be playful with the term.

Apple’s Genius Bar transforms how customers approach the computer store experience. While a crashing computer is a scary event, getting it fixed doesn’t have to be. At least that’s what the name suggests. The Genius Bar promises the intimacy of a bar with one-on-one attention and the playful “genius” term even makes it a little fun.

The Genius Bars are such a success they’ve inspired their own bar spinoffs – Apple’s iPod bar, for example. Microsoft now has its own Guru Bar, demonstrating “bar” in the technology sector is more than a fad.

Some brands are building on the ladies night element with feminine touches to the bar naming trend. The fashion and beauty industries, in fact, are increasingly embracing bar names. For these companies suggesting fun, quick, easy, social and casual is exactly what the average on-the-go woman needs in her life.

Dry BarTake Dry Bar. It’s a national salon brand in the US that focuses solely on blowouts for women. Quick and easy, Dry Bar offers its services in its own bar menu inspired menu for straightforward browsing and choosing. The atmosphere is chic yet casual and social.

Another beauty business example is the Braid Bar in LA. The brand leverages the word bar to create a fun, young atmosphere.

Bar isn’t limited to the physical world anymore either. Fashion website Bauble Bar, which is dedicated to selling jewelry, brings the bar feeling into the virtual. They use the word bar to suggest the ease and fun of the user experience, highlighting the breadth and personalization of their offerings.

The popularity of the virtual Bauble Bar has inspired a brick and mortar Bauble Bar shop in the Garment District of New York City. The trendy jewelry boutique is complete with, yes, a bar, where customers can sip champagne and shop.

One sea foam chandelier necklace on the rocks please!

Katie Conneally is an Associate Consultant, Verbal Identity for Interbrand New York.

Photo of Boston's Cheers is by Wikipedia user MECU

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