The first impression of businesses is something many companies work on heavily, some investing much time and effort, while larger corporations can spend upwards of 6–7 figures to make a lasting first impression.
So how the hell did this small business in San Diego crush it with the most unforgettable first impression a business in any industry could make?
The Best Design in America: The Perfect Storm
It’s the perfect storm bringing together several factors one would not instantly put on the same page—let alone the same block—and here they are on the same front door for this business.
- A peephole from the speakeasy era of the Prohibition Era in the 20s and 30s (Speakeasies were so called because these were illicit locations people only referenced quietly about in public—or when inside it—so as not to alert the police or neighbors)
- The Prohibition Era which was a time when the sale, manufacture, and transportation (i.e. bootlegging) of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States
- Vintage gold lettering painted on the door, and
- An Irish lawyer’s name
Genius and Criminal Minds
As I recently wrote, branding (in the wrong hands) can be murder.
So, I headed back to our hotel astonished at the sheer cojones for a lawyer to have such a door.
I thought, “OK. Maybe this is the bravest effin’ lawyer in the civilized world to create the best design in America for a door….”
After a little poking around on the Internet, the fog started to lift and… I laughed my ass off.
I learned Eddie O’Hare was the lawyer for Al Capone—aka “Easy Eddie.”
The inconspicuous door to the Law Office of Eddie O’Hare, Esq. isn’t a law office at all.
It’s a liquor bar where bartenders serve artisanal cocktails.
Past this door, you head down red-carpeted stairs and are transported to a prohibition era bar with delicious premium handmade cocktails particularly known for its whiskey sour and live jazz music every Wednesday night. The name of this stealthy hideout? Prohibition.
Prohibition, an underground speakeasy, is hidden under the guise of “Law Office of Eddie O’Hare Esq.”—right in the middle of the Gaslamp district of San Diego.
Why Does This Work So Successfully?
The job of branding is to leave an indelible impression, one you won’t forget and sticks with you. This does it in spades.
The brilliant David Ogilvy said it best: “You can’t bore people into buying your product.”
A few key factors make this door simply brilliant:
- It takes what we expect and exceeds those expectations by a mile
- It lets you in on the joke, if you’re attentive or “in the know” on your history of Chicago, gangsters and the Depression era
- It pays attention to details (like the gold, hand-painted lettering and the “sloppy welding” around the peephole)
- It didn’t cost much to do this. It simply took a smart, intelligent and brave approach to stand out and shake up expectations in place of extravagance (which often times sugar coats a turd rather nailing a brilliant concept and then raising the bar on a solid foundation)
Hats off to the brilliant minds at Prohibition — like everything from that era, they answer to nobody, break the rules and take what they want: customer attention.
Want to exceed expectations? Let’s talk.