Showing Up: Brands Making an Impact in Small Spaces

Brittany Chaffee

13 September 2019


Brands, regardless of their size, can create connection with customers by (believe it or not) thinking small. When brands take a deep breath and let the experience itself enhance the space in which it lives and breathes – they win. In the day and age where minimizing the carbon-footprint and sharing experiences digitally are valued, the interactive force behind brands showing up in a big way, at a small scale, are important. And they should not be ignored. Brands are constantly finding ways to take meaningful experiences that are different and apply them to their audience in a small (yet grandiose) way.


"Brands are constantly finding ways to take meaningful experiences that are different and apply them to their audience in a small (yet Grandiose) way."

Why do people crave a more intricate experience? It could have something to do with the big moments happening all the time. The world is an overwhelming place and brands becoming a part of an experience, instead of the experience itself, appear wholesome, humanistic, and real. Let's take food trucks as an example. Brand owners transformed trucks into restaurants that could move around, and people could grab food on the go. They were designed, made convenient, and simplified! As we transform and crave small scale experiences that fill our hearts with joy and effortlessness, experiential marketing transforms too.

Here are a few ways brands are showing up small and transforming the experiential space with big impact.

The McDonald’s Mini

Pardon the “pun” but the world’s tiniest McDonald’s is creating a lot of “buzz.” In an attempt to offset their environmental impact, McDonald's implemented a green practice by getting down with the bees. They opened the world’s smallest McDonald's, fondly named “The Hive.” To save thousands of important “guest bees” they created fully functioning beehives that look like real, tiny McDonald’s complete with drive-thru windows, al fresco tables, and the famous golden arches. This started after stores around Sweden added beehives to their rooftops to support the movement. The little bee-friendly phenomenon picked up steam online, getting press everywhere (Delish, Travel and Leisure, Hypebeast, Insider, Event Marketer, People, Today, and more).

What’s the appeal? Environmental impact. When people look at McDonald’s, they don’t see a positive carbon footprint. However, these tiny bee homes spread quickly in their cuteness and accessibility and instantly convey the message that McDonald’s is making an effort to take care of the planet. Even if it is a physically small effort.


Caribou Cabins

Caribou Coffee is also looking to innovate by going smaller. They are launching their tiny-store formats called “Caribou Cabins” that will only have a drive through and walk-up windows. This new format functions to target people on the go, with no interior seating. The 600-square-foot cabin design itself reflects Caribou’s warm and fuzzy Northwoods branding and a “Caribou Blue” exterior color scheme to stay true to the brand. Why are they doing all of this? The initiative, led by Caribou CEO and President John Butcher, aims to expand Caribou’s footprint in urban and suburban areas with a focus on “convenience and speed.”

What’s the appeal? Convenience. The bustling culture of today craves an easy experience, especially while on the run looking for a quick boost of morning espresso.

Endeavor Tiny Homes

Reservations to reserve an Endeavor Tiny Home in northern Minnesota are closed until 2020. Why? Because small is better! The experiences we truly remember are all about blending desires to create epically unique moments. As Minnesota’s first tiny house rental, these Airbnb-esque homes balance the freedom and privacy of a campsite, all while embracing the comfort and security of a modern cabin. The outdoor experience is also immersed into the inside experience, because the homes are hidden in idealistic lots in the North Shore base camp of the idealistic Minnesota home.

What’s the appeal? Natural nostalgia. Endeavor took two concepts – one that supported the fun of a campy tradition and the up-north adventure of cabin life and blended both of them together in one (small) activation. The experience itself is packaged to fit the modern and mindful amenities of today’s world. People like convenience and they like to experience things in new, holistic ways.


Voyager Camper Vans

Nature is trendy nowadays (Writer's Note: I'm a little sad I typed that but in this techy age, it's true). and Voyager Camper Vans know exactly how to capitalize on a good thing. People want to get outside. This company provides eco-friendly camper-van rentals to travelers looking to explore the outdoors in sizable comfort. Their custom camper-vans are well equipped with full-sized bed, cold food storage, stove, water source, electrical outlets, and a fan. They’re tiny and compact but support the ever-changing desire to experience the outdoors in reliable, manageable spaces.

What’s the appeal? Eco-friendly and effortless. Travel has morphed into an Instagram sharing, authentic, close-to-the-earth experience. Voyager Camper Vans support that dream with an ease that is too good to be true.

There are always opportunities to show up big, in a small way. Be sure to visit us during our STAR hosted Twin Cities Startup Week event on October 16, Showing Up: Brands Making an Impact in Small Spaces for a very special panel (from 10AM – 12PM).

RSVP here.

Brittany Chaffee


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