Much like Duane Reade, one of the more defining NYC stores is Ricky’s NYC, the self-described “edgy, ultra-hip ‘beauty shop’ specializing in unique fashion accessories, cosmetics and beauty supplies.” After announcing an expansion in WWD in late 2011, however, updated stores are few and far between.
In the event Mr. Ricky Kenig, the eponymous founder and creative director, is reconsidering, I’d like to make a suggestion or two from a brand strategy perspective:
DO acknowledge what defines the brand from a positioning standpoint.
Ricky’s NYC is mainly about beauty care that is a quirky, fun, rainbow of colors and a little risqué. When thinking about modernizing this brand, it’s extremely important to keep in mind what represents its true heart and soul. The original Ricky’s is the retail version of a John Waters movie (like Hairspray) meets the East Village’s (now) vintage retail punk scene from the late 80s.
This combination is what makes Ricky’s different and special compared to Sephora or MAC, especially if consumers are outside of NYC or have never experienced the brand, and need to “get” right away what makes Ricky’s special and unique.
Which brings me to the next stage: Once you’ve clearly acknowledged who you are and what makes you special, infuse that into the visual elements of the brand identity.
DO identify what visual elements are iconic to the brand, starting with colors and shapes.
Two of the key Ricky’s NYC elements are the shape of the squirting tube and the contrasting fuchsia/teal color combination.
I once met the man who helped create Maybelline’s Great Lash Mascara, and the pink and green colors for the pack were chosen because they are opposite colors on the spectrum and stand out. And everyone would agree that in mascara, this color combination is forever associated with the Maybelline Great Lash brand.
The same could be said for the Ricky’s tube and color scheme. We may not know exactly what is coming out of that package, but we know it’s something that will make us look or feel good. The effect is strong.
The new logos (glimpses available around NYC and on the web) show a tube-free version with uppercase block silver sans serif for the store name. Before moving away from the tube, it’s important to really understand what consumers identify the brand with and what makes the brand unique from a visual standpoint. (Image: new Ricky’s Logo & Store Front on First Ave. in Manhattan)
And lastly, even though it sounds like modernizing is risky, it is a part of staying relevant. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still be who you are.
DON’T be afraid to modernize and still represent your core brand identity.
When you do, just do it in a way that is authentic to what the brand stands for as well as what is relevant for today’s culture. Ricky’s modernizing strategy doesn’t mean having to look like a better Sephora or MAC store. Below are two examples that might either be works in progress or the final design renderings (found on the web) that could still go further in representing brand’s core meaning.
If Ricky’s had been born in 2013, its visual design might incorporate the vintage, iconic aspects of what made Ricky’s part of NYC culture and lore reimagined with a modernized aesthetic. Based on what I’ve shared, the new look could easily be inspired by a combination of Nylon magazine covers and editorial content meets Katy Perry’s hair, makeup, wardrobe and stage sets meets Jean Paul Gaultier’s Spring/Summer 2013 line (which should look incredibly familiar).
You don’t need to and shouldn’t lose your brand when you make it more relevant to today’s consumer, if you have a strong foundation. In this case, what makes Ricky’s worthwhile is still there, in the foundation of the brand. The art and craft of branding is recognizing the foundations, and paying homage to them, while staying in step with the cultural moment.