When we discuss branding with other entrepreneurs, one of the things we emphasise is that a brand is so much more than a slick identity and well-designed print collateral.
A company is perceived in a myriad of subtle ways. This includes not only their marketing, their online activity and the type of team they have, but also the space they operate out of. The style and location of a workplace will also have an impact on how people rate and remember a brand.
How would you rate your office space? What kind of impression is it likely to give a visitor?
Let’s take a mental walkthrough of a guest experience.
What does your location say about your brand? As a visitor approaches your location, they will already be forming first impressions of the area and of the building.
Is it easy to find? Is your signage professional and on brand? Are you in an area with complementary businesses that support and enhance your credibility? Do your neighbours have the potential to be affiliates and advocates? Could passers-by become prospective customers?
If you’re in a building that doesn’t properly reflect the ethos or style of your brand, think about what you can do to counteract that.
When someone enters your space, they experience part of your world.
What vibe is your space projecting? Homely? Relaxed? Premium? Academic? Successful? Traditional? Contemporary? Arty?
Hundreds of visual cues can be picked up simultaneously to form an overall impression. For example,
A warm ambient atmosphere puts people at ease and encourages a more relaxed and open conversation. Harsh strip lighting can create tension and a dimly lit room can feel bleak and dreary. Naturally-lit rooms feel more spacious and uplifting.
Consider the temperature of the room. Does it offer a cool contrast to a warm day (open windows/ gentle air-con) and a warm contrast on a cold day? Make sure the temperature feels comfortable so the visitor doesn’t enter a stuffy overheated room or one that requires them to keep their jackets on.
Visitors will often need to use the restroom before or after they leave. Make sure its clean, smells fresh and is sufficiently stocked.
Wall colour can have a dramatic impact on our mood. Each color has a psychological value. Think about what mood you want to create and which colors will help you achieve that. Red, orange and yellow raises a room’s energy level - they’re energizing and uplifting colours. Blue is considered calming, relaxing and serene. Green is regarded as the most restful color for the eye, encouraging unwinding, but has enough warmth to promote comfort and togetherness. Purple is rich, dramatic and sophisticated and often associated with luxury. Add color to liven things up; subtract it to calm things down. Adding brand slogans, values and inspirational quotes or digital displays to walls are a great way to communicate what the brand stands for.
Your choice of furniture says a lot about your brand. The colour and style choices of desks and chairs can be creative, premium, fun, traditional, eclectic. Try to avoid generic or stark. In Artizan, we used to have a rectangular table in our meeting room. After a year, we replaced it with a table in the shape of an octagon. The atmosphere of meetings immediately changed. The conversation is now more open and friendly when we sit at angles to visitors rather than directly across from them.
Plants and flowers help soften the atmosphere and give a feeling of freshness. Awards on display help communicate industry credibility and quality standards. Shelves with industry-related books convey the pursuit of knowledge. Artwork is also a great opportunity to communicate a brand style. Themed photography, contemporary art or traditional paintings can all say something about you.
A brand is not just what we see but what we experience when we interact with it. When a client or guest leaves your space they will remember how it made them feel. It’s worth taking a moment to consider how your brand performs at all its various touchpoints. Talk to your team about your space. They’ll be bound to have ideas on what might enhance a visitor’s experience. Make sure each choice is in line with the style and tone of your brand.
How you or your team greet your guests is hugely important. You want your client to feel well-received upon arrival. No time delays at the door, a warm greeting and an offer of a beverage will make them feel welcome and valued. Make sure the water is served in a glass and not a plastic cup, that the coffee is filtered and not instant. It’s also a small opportunity to use a mug, cup or glass of a style that reflects your brand - not just some random option you find at the back of the cupboard. Do you serve plain digestives, fancy cakes or have a bowl of fruit or sweets in reaching distance? All these little details are noted and contribute to an overall impression of your brand. Make them count.