While on one of our work outings, Richard and I chose to go to the Short North in Columbus to and get a change of perspective and oh did we.
We ventured into a bar named House Beer and were instantly greeted by a cozy, warm and low light atmosphere. Not too loud; no interrupting servers, it was a come-as-you are atmosphere. It inspired us to open our laptops and start cranking work. The tables were beautiful slabs of fallen mahogany, cut long to expose the grain and left with a heavy layer of bark then varnished to a mirror shine. The lighting was suspended from what could have been mistaken for oil lamps in a pre-electricity world. It transported us back to a time and place that was far from the plugged in and electronic based world we live through today. We pounded on the keyboards of our machines furiously for hours, the atmosphere beating upon us like the waves of inspiration, crashing against us like a muse.
Finally, the hour grew late and we went to thank the bartender and express our love for the atmosphere of the bar room. He provided us with the back-story of the interior design of the bar. A story that went to the core of what this dimly lit bar was all about. It required another beer, which we gladly accepted.
The interior walls were from an old barn re-purposed with exterior barn slabs, a sliding door permitting access to a back room with the rust exposed, and a 1920’s bottling rack system with cracks so deep on it and the patina that made you think it had not seen light in many decades. You can imagine it sitting there in the hot humidity of a dark corner on a summer night and weathering the cold nights of winter. Perhaps a buried artifact in rubble; forgotten by the ages so many years ago. Yet here it swung, hanging from the ceiling casting light below with illuminated bulbs.
These lost artifacts were from the same barn. This branding and marketing is something that differentiates House Beer from the other establishments on the Short North. The barn’s re-purposed wood is from a prohibition-era bottling barn that had been raided during prohibition. The walls of this current day Columbus destination have seen prohibition agents breaking barrel after barrel of beer and the sweet nectar pouring upon the ground, guns blazing, people screaming, these walls have seen stories untold. So with a statement of gratitude the grandmother who volunteered the wood apparently said, “My grandfather would be proud knowing where it’s going.”
This dimly lit atmosphere from another time and place beckoned us in. The display cases against the back wall with row after row of beers, the sheer amount and various names would give anyone trouble. Yet, this place still gave a warm feeling in this nerd’s heart.
Knowing that the bartenders and patrons of this fine establishment knew of the historical conversation elements would provide even the most jaded individual an atmosphere and experience they could talk about and share. Thus spreading this local Columbus brand by word of mouth to many new potential visitors. The Beer House makes you want to spread their story, letting the everyday passer-by become infected with this story they have to share with each potential patron. When it comes to a business’ brand there are three experiences that can happen: good, bad or indifferent. The worst of the three is indifferent.
If you know your brand and the identity of your company, you create these experiences. If someone hates it, they probably were not your intended core audience, but they should hate it for the same reason someone else loves it. Do not let them hate you, because of customer service or quality of product. These are simple pitfalls of any business. But hope that they hate you for an atmosphere or experience that isn’t what they were looking for. There is always Applebee’s for those people.
There is only one truth to user experience. The opposite of love isn’t hate. The opposite of love is indifference.
Dare to be different.