“Branding” the Office Way
Branding has been around since ranchers burnt their mark on their cattle. Today it is used by companies to identify the products or services of their company. Branding is the perception that consumers have when they think or hear or encounter the company name, service or product. Companies express their brand by their name, slogan, symbol, design or any combination of these elements.
Today, more and more companies are using their office design, décor or the building itself to also express their brand. The office can be an effective brand for your clients as an expression of your company’s ability to solve their problems. If your clients don’t come to your office, expressing your company’s brand via your office space design helps to motivate your employees by enabling them to interact with your corporate culture in a visceral way. Implementing this approach not only creates employee loyalty but it communicates nonverbally your belief in your brand and what it represents. Employees working in your office, where you have made this commitment, will have their dedication to your company reinforced.
In today’s world where the battle for customers is exceeded only by the battle for talent, branding the office has become extremely important. The most notorious example is the Pixar office which conceived the idea of “Collaborative Space”. Collaborative space is the name of the approach to office space design that broke with “Traditional Design”. Traditional design places the private offices along the windows for the executives and the interior ‘bullpen’ for the employees. This approach discourages interaction and the sharing of ideas. Conversely, collaborative space is an open design which eliminates private offices and encourages the intermingling of executives and employees. The office design itself invites employees to interact by incorporating new design elements such as coffee bars, huddle rooms, game rooms, and much more.
This approach to office design instills the belief in employees that their workday is going to be a much more enjoyable experience. Office space design becomes part of the company’s brand and deepens the commitment and enthusiasm of the management and staff. Most important, this approach is instrumental in attracting and retaining employees as well as improving their productivity.
Traditional space design, the opposite extreme from collaborative space, is most commonly used by Law Firms. Their design approach separates the attorney’s offices, placed along the windows, from the administrative employees in either interior offices or the bullpen. The design of the space itself is a means to impress and retain clients. The emphasis is placed on elaborate entrances, reception areas and conference rooms. The success, wealth and reputation, or any other brand, is expressed in these areas. This approach to branding will serve to attract and retain clients as well as support top dollar billing.
Office space, as a branding tool, has become increasingly important in today’s world to attract both clients and talent. A quote by Sun Tzu from the book The Art of War is: “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses the battle makes few calculations beforehand.”