Editor’s Pick: Au Bon Pain

New design generates double-digit increases

Au Bon Pain is updating its brand experience with a new customer-centric design that gives the store a more distinct personality. It also makes the space easier to navigate, with the layout redesigned to speed service.

“We’re taking the customer experience to the next level,” said Sue Morelli, CEO for Au Bon Pain, which operates 318 locations in the United States and internationally. “The response we’ve been getting to our new prototype has validated our decision to accelerate our growth, including going to new markets nationally.”

The new design, by Interbrand Design Forum, Dayton, Ohio, made its debut in a remodeled store in Boston, and will be in place in 26 locations by August.  The café-bakery chain has already remodeled a majority of its locations in the greater New York City area, with the redone stores generating “double-digit” sales increases, according to Morelli.

Au Bon Pain’s new look is bright, welcoming and energized with color. Communication zones clarify the offer and enable customers to build their order with speed and convenience.

“The biggest issue that we needed to address was that Au Bon Pain did not have a personality or a tone of voice,” said Tom Kowalski, VP design, Interbrand Design Forum. “When people thought of Au Bon Pain, they thought of a yellow bakery. The new concept gives the brand credit for the things that it does really well. We’ve created destinations for core competencies and we’ve made it easier for customers to navigate the experience, inviting them to buy more.”

The design establishes a clear visual and verbal style for the brand, whose signature color is yellow. It differentiates Au Bon Pain in the marketplace and makes a vibrant visual statement while leveraging and refreshing the chain’s existing color equity. Green harmonizes with the signature yellow, sending natural and garden-fresh cues, while berry hues and chocolate tones are incorporated as accents.

Modern and traditional materials are combined project a contemporary yet authentic atmosphere this is evident throughout the space, particularly with the use of subtly grained woods banded with a metal edge.

Framed text-based art provides color and texture, while delivering branded messages. Hanging glass divider panels add privacy in the seating area, where warm brown sign bands link the panels with additional messaging. Script typeface on bold color is an ownable combination and establishes an approachable voice.

In a key change, the old pencil-and-paper sandwich ordering method at the made-to-order counter is replaced with wireless devices. This new efficient system allows customers to maximize their dwell time in the space and explore Au Bon Pain’s full offerings.

The changes in the store appearance has been complemented by menu enhancements.

Au Bon Pain is ramping up its expansion. It plans to add more than 20 new locations this year, including units in such new markets such as Sacramento, Calif., and Nashville, Tenn.

To see more photos of Au Bon Pain’s new store design, click here.

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