New buzz words pop up everyday in the Bay area but “environmental branding” seems to be taking a hold of the San Francisco market and not letting go. And, as far as we’re concerned, it shouldn’t!
Environmental branding, simply put, is the translation of your brand into a built space. I mean if we’re all being honest, this isn’t a novel concept… hotels, restaurants and retailers have been using this hook for years to keep us coming back for that uniquely branded experience. Now in an effort to attract, retain and motivate employees companies are recognizing the true power of making your space YOURS. While a powerful concept, it’s important that you brand your space in a way that enhances it and has purpose rather than just being cool for cool sake.
Here are a few tips we keep in mind when branding any new space.
1. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING WITH?
If you’re working with a space you currently occupy, try to take a fresh look at things. Are there areas that are wasted right now : storage closets, rooms that are too small or under utilized, any other inefficiencies of space? What about areas that are always packed? Or areas people naturally congregate?
If you’re working with a brand new space, stop, look around and imagine the possibilities. Then figure out how much freedom you have to change the canvas of the space. Can you tear down walls, paint, change the flooring, etc. You’ll definitely want to know those things before your dreams get bigger than your landlord can handle.
2. WHAT’S BEING ASKED OF YOUR SPACE?
Think of who will be working in this space. What are they going to demand of the space? Will it be : conference rooms for meetings or video conferencing, casual meeting spaces to brainstorm, traditional desks for heads down time, break rooms for snacking and hydrating, quiet spaces for making calls, dark areas for coding, loud areas for testing sound?
3. WHO’S USING YOUR SPACE + HOW?
You have to not only think of what is being demanded of the space, you also have to think of who is doing the demanding. Is the audience in their 20s, 30s, 40s? Are they tech oriented or not at all? Do they work with headphones on in hoodies at their cubes? Do they constantly shuffle around in groups to work on projects as a team? Or is it all virtual and they spend the day talking to people on the other side of the world? These things all matter tremendously in making a space that is not only fun + branded but that increases functionality + efficiency.
4. WHAT MAKES YOU, YOU?
Once you have all the hard facts of what the space needs to do, for who, and how then you can jump into the more creative parts of branding a space. Next stop, your culture. Defining your culture is what allows you to take a space from just being functional and turn it into a space that is uniquely yours. What is your culture? By definition your culture is the personality of your company and defines what a company, from an employee perspective, is like to work for. So start thinking, what are the defining things that make you as an organization? What things draw you together as a group? Do you all love coffee? Do you have a passion for the outdoors? Do you have a secret need to play ping pong to think? Do you all eat lunch together at a giant table or alone in a corner? What are those little inside jokes, funny phrases, quirky things that you do that others wouldn’t fully appreciate? All of this makes up your culture and ultimately, your space.
5. HOW CAN YOU BRING IT TO LIFE?
This is the part where all the ideas hit the table and pen meets paper. This is where you go from what you need a space to do, to making it happen. Next stop, creating your branded experience. Make everyone get out of the office + get inspired. Find solutions being used in hotels, restaurants, libraries, museums, anywhere but your space. Then bring the key players into a room, have a good old fashioned show + tell, brainstorm a lot and then narrow to what works in the space. Your solution shouldn’t just be “cool.” It should solve a problem in an unexpected way that by design makes it cool. Bottom line: you can have your 9 hole golf course, just make sure it overcomes a cultural or physical challenge your company is looking to solve for.