Visual copywriting and the incredible power of the Instagram quote wall.
Alfred Coffee on Melrose Place is the best coffee shop in Los Angeles. I know this because I am a writer and writers know about these things. If you want to learn where to get a good, creamy espresso in your town in a chic environment where good-looking, well-dressed, possibly famous people and their dogs are readily ogle-able, ask a writer. Our lives depend on having a heartening place to go to assuage the prison-like isolation of our apartments, to reverse dead-end depression with the glamorous illusion of human contact, to escape the smell of existential angst and athleisure worn a half-day past its freshness
The first time we went to Alfred, it was for a professional hang, and we actually took a picture of the gold-foil floral wallpaper in the bathroom as personal decor inspiration. A cute restroom is an essential element of an excellent coffee shop—and, just as an aside? We believe that serving overpriced, high-powered stimulants to the creative class WITHOUT offering a place to relieve oneself is straight up INHUMANE (we see you, Broome Street General Store). Anyway, one day, we were on deadline and stopped by Alfred to bang out a few hours of product description when we were hit with the God's truth.
But first, coffee.
The perfectly punctuated slogan, writ large on the wall pointing the way to the shop's artfully sunken service counter was so universally agreeable, it almost knocked us over. And then, snap. Instagram happened. #yes
If an image is worth a thousand words, then an image of a few very true words is...oh my god. Alfred's meteoric rise to World's Fashion-est Café status coincided neatly with the explosion of Insta culture, and, while we don't have the hard data, we would bet it is at least 60 percent due to this three-word quote reverberating around the world in a zillion impressions a day on every fashion blogger, hipster tourist and wannabe influencer's Instagram feed. Unlike other oft-Grammed spots like Crosby Street, Ladurée, or the Paul Smith pink wall, it includes meaningful, emotional copy in the photo itself, no caption required. It was like suddenly, circa 2015, everywhere you went, when you saw a quote on a neon sign, sandwich board or public mural and it rang true, you would automatically snap it and post it. This was #mood. This was #goals. Especially if you happened to be hungry for fries, tipsy on the liquor or hopped up on matcha, fuck, this was YOU.
The best Instagram quote walls are either obnoxiously visible or obscure enough that they feel like secrets from your subconscious. We are partial to the latter, like the one you could easily miss on your way back upstairs from the basement restroom at the Ace Hotel in NYC. Everything is going to be alright, it assures you from under a random step. You too badly want to believe this NOT to snap it and drunk-post it right then, at 3am after an Arcade Fire concert. Oooo, you're so deep, but positive, you know?
It's also nice to sprinkle quotes in amongst products, like Aesop does in their aromatic stores, where William James might beg you, Begin to be now what you will be hereafter. And from that moment forth, you vow to be well moisturized and great-smelling. Snap. Post. #yes. Some of the most powerful quote walls we've seen, like the Alfred one, relate more directly to the brand at hand. When you rock up to the Echo Park location of the Los Angeles metaphysical supply temple House of Intuition, the wall at the base of its Mayan-like staircase lets you know that your intuition led you here. Which is like, yes, yeah, of course. Snap. You want everyone, including your ex, to know that you are a magical, psychically gifted creature who regularly embarks on mini-journeys to the center of his soul and buys candles and crystals and shit along the way.
Personal but public, simple but epic, specific but universal, cultish but mainstream. These are the tensions you want to transcend when you decide what to have your fave graffiti artist or neon sign-maker splash across your brand's most appropriately visible surface area. Done well, it could be the most money-drawing phrase you ever think up.
Would you like to raise your brand profile with an irresistibly Instagrammable wall-quote situation?