Brand Identity / 09.13.2017

How to brand your office

Ready to bring your brand to life inside your office?  Any office redesign today should, at minimum, reflect who you are as a company and, at best, boost morale, inspire collaboration, and encourage innovation.

The modern office has evolved. Say goodbye to employee cubicles and static reception areas branded solely with a company logo. Today, we seek to create a seamless experience between working from home and the office, one that will inspire teammates and help attract talent. Messaging is now an integral piece, too—go big and embrace themes regarding “why” your organization exists, rather than bombarding employees with how you want them to act and feel.

“By weaving the brand messages into employees’ everyday experiences, managers can ensure that on-brand behavior becomes instinctive.”
–Harvard Business Review

An excellent post by The Harvard Business Review, “Selling the Brand Inside,” outlines when office branding should be considered and why; I’ve incorporated many of their ideas, along with my recent experiences with several Grafik clients, into this piece.  Below are 5 considerations for implementing successful office branding:

1. Architects aren’t brand experts, and brand experts aren’t architects
It’s important to bring together your architect/interior designer and your branding agency early in the game. Too often a company engages the architect without consulting the branding agency until much later. It’s a common oversight that hinders collaboration, as neither player has accounted for the other in their timelines and budgets. Once together, clearly establish goals, budgets, and the timeline, and provide a portrait of current employee habits. Let each player do what they do best—architects are experts in space design, with deep resources for furnishings. Your branding agency can determine any messaging and recommend elements that reflect and support the brand.

2. Have a strong and empowered project lead
To manage the relationships and clearly define roles, responsibilities, and lines of communications, appoint a project lead from your firm. While there should always be transparency and consensus, especially on something as long-lasting as office design, the project lead should ideally have healthy decision-making authority to speed the process.

3. Consider technology’s role
You don’t have to be a tech firm to incorporate technology into your office landscape. It can enhance brand engagement, add entertainment, or help employees work more efficiently. As more work is done on open platforms, meeting and collaboration rooms are in higher demand. You can build in systems that help manage and book meetings, like Event Board from Teem or an iPad display for better workflow. Again, whichever use you’re making of tech, bring your IT professionals into the planning process early.
Part 2 of this series will focus on how we’re working with clients to elevate their brands using innovative tech applications in the workplace, such as Adobe’s Executive Video Wall Experience.

4. Make the time for both prototypes and site visits
Bringing a brand to life in a physical space requires material reviews, testing, and on-site meetings to a degree exceeding most other branding efforts. While much can be done through email communications and sharing of files, we tell our clients to expect to see us often throughout the process so that we can prototype designs and assure that the scale of work fits your space. This part is critical. What something looks like in place is often very different from what it looks like in a design; the same goes for a material you may have loved as a sample.

5. Personalizing your space
What’s often left off the table when considering an office rebranding is what makes a space unique—personal touches such as fine art or found objects that represent who you are without literally stating your brand messaging. Combining this thinking with new and innovative furnishings and technologies can move the needle from being a corporate refresh to something more human, aspirational, or unique, like Google’s camper in their Amsterdam office.
Branding agency insights on best practices for office branding, like this camper in Google's office

If you’re the DIY type, you can search for artists online to buy or commission art. If you’re not, you can take your search offline to visit galleries or even make a trip to Art Basel to find meaningful art that resonates with your company (and have a good excuse for a short trip to Miami in December!). For found objects, don’t overlook flea markets, antique stores, and more online searching. If this just isn’t your cup of tea, ask your interior design team to present recommendations from professional art buyers.

Branding your workspace can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. I hope breaking out the considerations into manageable stages will ensure you have your best resources aligned from day one.

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