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Leading the market with their brand initiative, AMI is about people helping people. Locally focused, AMI aims to be the first social, trustworthy, easy and helpful insurance offering. The company needed to make real their aspirational brand positioning. So they approached RCG and Design Director John Lenihan for expert direction to take their retail operation to the next level.

First, we undertook several research projects, including strategic analysis of their store performance at a national and regional level. The retail strategy we subsequently developed uses AMI’s same footprint and same staff; but creates more locations and more sales.

Inviting and comfortable like a domestic space, the store palette of timber and timber panelling adds texture and warmth. Carpet with an organic quality and soft tones is used throughout. Lighting is low in level, and gives a warm and intimate ambience.

A softer less aggressive tone of AMI’s brand yellow highlights the store and supports way finding, while foundation colours of black and charcoal tones are pulled in throughout.

The store entrance is framed by yellow timber panelling, signalling openness and leading people in. To represent AMI’s offering the shopfront was designed to look valuable but not expensive, with warm Basalt that feels permanent and reassuring.

Asking for help is easy as staff now lead from the front; their prominent assistance counter is stationed at the heart of the store visible from the entrance. Through the middle of the space there are a variety of settings – leaners, tables, and lounge to accommodate all people and all conversations. For stressful claims we created two acoustically-private meeting spaces.

Interesting facts and stats were illustrated to create an informative discussion wall. Segmented into life stages and with integrated technology, the wall helps spark conversations, it is inclusive and tactile, and it stands behind AMI’s intention to be social and helpful. IPads and laptops along with docking stations allow staff to be completely mobile and free to move people through the store journey.

Aspects of community and home are brought into the store through architectural references such as a pitched roofline form and weatherboard panelling. The roofline is mirrored to create the dynamic form of the zig-zag wall. So with a very clear brief, we designed an insurance-store environment and offer that reflected AMI’s customer aspirations, along with a personal ‘curated retail’ offer, a mapped customer journey based on life stages and touch points and a visual system that expressed the brand personality. The result is an environment that is surprising and relevant, with retail like intensity. The new model has generated a sharp increase in customer visitation and sales, along with an upturn in staff commitment. AMI is on their way to becoming the best “face to face” insurance offering in New Zealand. The Takanini flagship store is complete, and there’s more to come.

Photography: Jeremy Toth
Design by John Lenihan at RCG

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