Historically, most offices have been decorated with art chosen to match the aesthetic tastes of the company owner. While some of this art was good and made the office a pleasant place to work, much of it could most charitably be described as “inoffensive.” Regardless of the quality, however, recent advances in behavioral science show that companies would be better off taking a different approach to their workspace graphics.
In his latest book, Pre-suasion, noted behavioral economist Dr. Robert Cialdini shares a study about call center employees who were “primed” with a photograph of a woman winning a race. Priming is a psychological phenomenon where exposure to an idea or other stimulus can influence your later actions. For example, priming people with words about old age can actually cause them to move more slowly.
As for the call center employees primed with a photo of a race winner? They raised significantly more money from donors than those who were randomly assigned to a control group. Likewise, studies show that female students do better on science, math, and leadership tasks if assigned to rooms with cues (photos, for example) of women known to have mastered the tasks.
This might help explain why so many of our clients are moving from traditional office art to strategically designed workspace branding and graphics that can literally help improve sales, job performance, and team morale.
Beyond the cheesy motivational posters of the 1990s, modern office branding helps create a shared sense of purpose in your team. It visually defines the company mission and aligns your employees in the same direction. So how can you get this for your company?
While successful workspace graphics are as different as the companies that employ them, they all work to bring the essence of the brand to life — to visually represent what makes the company special and gets people excited about working there.
For some companies, that means telling the company story, either through elaborate historical timelines or more focused snippets of company legends. Many firms display success stories, quotes from satisfied customers, and other reminders of who they’re working so hard for. Building affinity for your target audience is a good way to keep your team focused on your company mission, above and beyond the grind of day-to-day projects.
Still other companies use workspace graphics to help communicate the company’s brand essence. They set the mood with playful graphics, abstract illustrations, or performance-driven quotes. The atmosphere of these offices becomes a strategic differentiator and an important tool for recruiting talented employees.
For example, Tricam Industries wanted to update their “dull, blah” office that was “mired in the 70s” in part to improve recruitment. The result includes bold brand imagery that reflects the company’s focus on industrial products that help their customers get more work done.
Ultimately, this kind of strong workspace branding can help your employees make a powerful emotional connection to the products and services you sell. And when people care about and believe in the brand, they’re motivated to work harder and their loyalty to the company increases. Employees who are unified and inspired by a common sense of purpose and identity will be more successful.
Brock Ray is Director of Marketing and Business Development for PlanForce.