Hot Topic

Assignment: Refresh a fading retail brand

Bringing this to life


For the teenager who never thinks twice about wearing his bright yellow pants and guyliner,

For the little kid who shouts from the mountaintops her love of Pokémon and pentagrams,

For the rap-lovers and dad-rockers, for the fangirls and fanboys, for the people who refuse to hide their ME-flag,

Come, gather. Be heard.

Hot Topic
For the Fearless Ones

Updated look & feel

Hot Topic is for the fearless ones, emphasis on the for. The new logo, colors and textures provide a blank yet bold canvas on which consumers can leave their mark.


Introducing a new retail experience:
HT Hub

Although malls are dying, Hot Topic is still thriving in that space. It doesn’t make sense to take Hot Topic completely out of malls. Instead, we’re closing some mall stores in regions abundant with Hot Topic locations, and replacing them with a new, secondary store concept called HT Hub. These locations will be larger than the mall stores. For extra square footage, the hubs will live in suburban town centers.

Our pilot market is Rockville, Maryland. This overflow suburb of DC and Baltimore has a thriving art scene full of the fearless individuals we are aiming to reach. There are 17 Hot Topic stores within a 50-mile radius of this region. We would close two or three of these mall locations in order to open HT Rockville.

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Peek inside

HT Rockville exists as a space for conversation, cultural creation and connection. It’s a place where people can embrace their differences, come together and celebrate them. The design is simple, modular and adaptive. It’s meant to take on the personality of the community it lives in. Many of the walls are left blank for local artists to put their stamp on them.


Taking a stance

At HT Rockville, you can still buy all the products you know and love… but these locations are about so much more. If we’re going to embolden young people to agitate the standard, we have to actually take a stance, walk the walk. The Stance Wall serves as an agile home for rotating products that benefit various causes. These products are similar to items that Hot Topic already offers – t-shirts, hats, and accessories – but their backstories, which you can see scrawled on the shelf’s chalkboard surface, empower shoppers to vote with their dollar.


A space to create & question

HT Hub Hosts – location managers with a passion for community outreach – will sit at an open office space and help community members find new ways get involved. Hub hosts are in charge of building out what we’re calling “The Fearless Few: A Catalog of Local Creatives.” HT Rockville visitors can access a curated, dynamic list of local artists who are accepting commissions.


Each HT Hub will house a chapter of The Fearless Ones membership program. On a local level, people who hold a membership card receive perks like exclusive products and deals, and access to the multipurpose space within HT Rockville. This space is perfect for viewing parties, poetry slam nights or music performances – whatever members want to organize. On a national level, The Fearless Ones program is meant to ensure Hot Topic remains relevant among and is listening to their consumers.

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Who will run this?

Each HT Hub location will employ two new positions.

Hub hosts

Culturally-minded store managers that act as the liaison between their community and Hot Topic corporate. They’re responsible for merchandising their store, overseeing the membership program and producing events.

Assistant hub hosts

An intern-like position to support the hub host. We imagine these as opinionated 16-20 year olds who are hired for their cultural expertise and local influence. They are expected to curate social content for the hub, lead their chapter of Fearless Ones and bring fresh ideas to their boss.

Click below to learn about our campaign to invite Gen Z in.


Go team

Robert Clark, creative brand manager
Sarah Matheson Harris, strategist
Catie Frech, strategist
Joelle Halle, experience designer
Ainsworth Kerr, copywriter
Molly McCarvill, art director

Let’s chat | 703-389-1010