Does your company’s workspace reflect its DNA?
The power of aligning design with brand
Most companies spend much time and money shaping and maintaining their brand identity. After all, a company’s brand is much more than a logo, signage or marketing materials. It is a mirror that reflects the company’s core DNA. A strong brand helps differentiate a business from its competitors, and influences how the company is perceived by customers and employees.
Part of managing that perception is looking at all the ways customers and employees interact with the company. Brand is communicated at every customer touchpoint, from how employees answer the phone to the first impression customers receive when they walk into the building’s lobby. The facility itself can be used to visually extend the company’s brand and convey its corporate culture.
“The workplace is more than a place for people to sit,” explains Andrew Garnar-Wortzel, a principal with Gensler-New York, one of the nation’s leading architecture and interior design firms that designed the Absolut and the National Basketball Association headquarters buildings. “It is an environment for the company to be able to communicate with its customers and its employees in terms of what is done there, as well as the value and brand of the company.”
Companies that choose not to brand their workspaces are still transmitting silent messages to their customers and employees, Garnar-Wortzel warns: “For example, it could be a message that you don’t care or it could be one of frugality with no connection to the mission of the company.”
To help avoid these unintended messages, Garnar-Wortzel has outlined three key concepts to successfully brand office space:
Just as healthy food is referred to as being “nutritionally dense,” a successfully branded building will provide workplace productivity densities and efficiencies. “For something to be viable, it must be able to support all of the functions and businesses thoroughly — addressing all the aspects of how a company operates and how these are expressed in the built environment,” Garnar-Wortzel says.
This involves the physical elements that touch the heartbeat of the organization. “To be memorable, (the workplace) needs to create an emotional connection to people that will make the experience an event,” he explains. These include visual connections, physical connections and lighting.
This refers to how the environment supports employees’ ability to do their work. “A building ‘lives’ over time,” he adds. “As such, it can’t be just a flash that is designed to last for a day. It has to be able to grow with the company over time.”
“We realized that branding ... is how you work and how you interact with every customer. And the design of the building plays an important role in these activities.”
— Carolyn Rickard-Brideau, Little Diversified Architectural Consulting
The Arlington, Va., office of Little Diversified Architectural Consulting rebranded its own facility a few years ago. “We realized that branding is more than just what your building looks like,” says Carolyn Rickard-Brideau, Little partner and president of the Arlington office. “It’s how you work and how you interact with every customer. And the design of the building plays an important role in these activities.”
“... (the workplace) needs to create an emotional connection to people that will make the experience an event.”
— Andrew Garnar-Wortzel, Gensler-New York
This philosophy rang true for Dublin, Ohio, photography studio SoHo Studio Co. When President Heather Cartwright opened SoHo Studio five years ago, she wanted to create as much word-of-mouth advertising as possible. So she enlisted the help of OM Workspace.
“We wanted to get across to everyone that we are different,” Cartwright explains. “We are located in a strip mall, but once customers walk in the door, we didn’t want the business to have the look or feel of a strip mall business.”
“We realized the best way to promote the studio was through the design of the studio itself,” OM Workspace’s Tom Cartwright adds. “We wanted people to do a ‘wow’ when they walked in the door.”
OM Workspace designed the studio to look like a renovated art loft from New York’s SoHo district, with contemporary, funky furniture, lighting and flooring. To reinforce the art loft image, the studio also includes gallery space where Heather invites local artists to hold opening shows free of charge.
The result: By aligning the look and feel of her office and studio space with the brand image that she wanted to project, Heather and the SoHo Studio created a lasting impression on customers and visitors. The high-end loft design also has created buzz across Dublin.