MINI enhances brand arguably better than any other car maker, most visibly through its startling billboards and guerilla advertising. Now in Toronto, it’s woven inextricably into its newest dealership…
Automobile showrooms all pretty much look alike, don’t they? Land Rover will put an LR4 up on a pile of rocks out front, which is more showmanship than most bother with. But most of them simply arrange their shiny cars on shiny tiles in the showroom and let customers mill about the place as the cars sell themselves.
Not so, MINI. When the new dealership bought a formerly dilapidated corner on Eastern and Broadview Avenues in Toronto, it hired RAW Design of Toronto to give the place an appropriate look. Normally eschewing color of any kind in approaching a building’s exterior, architects at this firm took a page from the MINI marketing handbook and did a U-turn. As you can see, color abounds, there is a lot of glass, and inside it’s done up like, well, a family home. “Newborns” are encased in glass cubes. Service areas, where one goes when one is sick, are also encased in glass so nervous owners can check on their “baby’s” progress.
But the bottom line, as RAW’s Roland Rom Colthoff points out, “It’s gotta sell cars; that’s its job.”
“People saw the impact the new BMW building had,” says Colthoff, who worked on the project while at Quadrangle Architects. “It set the standards for car dealerships in the city. Other companies copied it. Obviously brand is super-important to car makers. Where BMW was a bit restrained, MINI’s a lot more fun. It’s very colorful and active.”
And, true to MINI’s city-friendly demeanor, the firm was also concerned with ease of parking, as in, how will the building fit into the city.
“We had a lot of discussion with the city,” he continues, “mostly about the best way to place the building and its edge features.”
I think we can expect to see more MINI dealerships rev up their brand marketing in similar fashion.
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