Apple is removing the word "store" from the branding of its retail locations and online outlets, after reportedly sending a memo to its retail employees saying it was making a branding change, according to a MacRumors post picked by several publications.
Though the memo reportedly said the change would happen gradually, websites for almost all of Apple's retail locations no longer used "store" in mentions of the brand.
MacRumors says the change may be driven be Apple's desire to turn its retail locations into community spaces hosting entertainment and events while Apple users gather, linger and seek device help.
Retail brands like Apple want to change the touch and feel of brick-and-mortar, and they're doing it by making their locations seem less like, well, a store.
When customers walk into an Apple retail location, they don't look for the words "Mac" or "Apple." What consumers notice is the big apple icon with a small bite taken out of it, and the signature white, open space design of the stores. By dropping the word "store" from its branding, Apple is refining a marketing strategy that aims to make taking a trip to Apple an experience.
It's a natural move for the retailer and it aligns with recent efforts to introduce entertainment and special events. But Apple's emphasis on community isn't a unique concept. More and more retailers are striving to make brick-and-mortar shopping a personalized, sensory experience, by adding food, lights, interactive attractions and digital platforms so that customers feel comfortable, stay longer and keep adding to their basket.
Apple, as a successful consumer technology brand with a long-standing online strategy, may be in a better position than most to deliver on the community ideal and make a seamless transition from the old store model. But in the end, of course, Apple or any other retailer will only stick with a concept for as long as it drives sales and customer loyalty.