Have you ever walked into a vendor’s office and been thankful that it wasn’t your own? Dreary beige walls, mismatched cubicles, and generic teamwork posters that make you wish you’d pursued some other career.
Your office is more than just the walls, desks, and carpet that surround you each day. It’s more than the place that you and your employees go to get your work done. Your office serves as an extension of your company’s overall brand, and it can reinforce your vision and values in the eyes of your staff and clients. Or, it can make them reevaluate your services — and their life choices.
Your company’s culture is evident from the interior design of your office. So how can you ensure you’re creating an environment that lives up to that lofty mission statement you worked so hard to create? While there’s a lot that can go into branding a workspace, let’s focus on five areas that will give you the most impact.
1. Colors & Finishes
One of the easiest ways to align your workspace with the rest of your brand is by matching the colors of your walls, furniture, and other office elements with those in your brand standards manual. In addition to bright accent walls, this can mean pops of color from furniture, tinted finishes, or even a dramatic, branded drop ceiling — a technique used to great effect in DirecTV’s call center in Eden Prairie, MN.
Likewise, the materials and finishes featured in your workspace can send a powerful message about your identity as a brand. Dark wood, leather, and marble — think of mahogany-filled law offices and ornate banks like First Western — can give a sense of wealth and tradition. In contrast, glass and chrome-walled workspaces with white walls — like Metro Mold & Design’s manufacturing environment — can communicate high-tech cleanliness and precision. In between these extremes is an office like Cox Insurance, where warm wood textures and an abundance of sunlight help to create an environment that is warm and inviting.
Setting the right tone for your branded environment is about more than just picking colors. Just as your personal furniture reflects your individuality at home, the furniture you choose for your workspace helps convey the kind of company you are. Do you fill your lobby with modernist, tubular steel Wassily Chairs grouped around a circular metal coffee table like the RE/MAX Results high-design Loring Park office? Or do you prefer a laid back, overstuffed yellow couch to give you a creative, hipster vibe that will attract all the cool kids, as developer First & First uses in their refurbished warehouses like 811 Glenwood? Both spaces offer a place to sit, but the furniture style communicates very different things about each company and who they serve.
Of course you also have to decide how to layout your furniture. In an office, for example, the arrangement of desks is not only critical to the function of the space, but it can also have a major impact on how the space feels to visitors and employees alike. Is the office filled with rows of traditional, full-height cubicles that give users a sense of privacy? Do you have open tables where employees can pull up a chair (or a bench) as needed to collaborate with colleagues? Something in between like the half-height desks at Blue Belt Technologies, which feature low walls for collaboration and a refreshing view of the outside?
Open office plans are pretty popular right now, but that doesn’t mean they’re right for every brand. While it makes sense for some companies to have creative, living-room like gathering areas, others will benefit from a more built-out look that communicates a sense of history and professionalism.
4. Extras and Perks
Beyond chairs and desks, do you also add a pool table or pinball machines as perks for your staff? How about a coffee bar with high-end espresso machines? Or bike storage and lockers? These kinds of amenities have a practical implication, of course, but they also set a tone for your team — and communicate your brand values — like the importance of downtime, close collaboration, and eco-friendliness, respectively — to visiting clients
You can also add touches of pure fun, like installing color-transitioning LED lighting around the bathroom mirror as Electro-Mechanical Industries (EMI) did at their Plymouth, MN offices.
5. Graphics and Messaging
To really create a branded experience for employees and visitors, many companies are moving beyond artwork and turning to large-scale wall graphics and messaging throughout their space. This isn’t just about slapping your logo on as many surfaces as possible; people won’t forget the name of your company. Rather, key brand statements and company values, illustrated in bold, eye-catching installations, have the power to emotionally connect people with your brand vision.
For example, Tricam Industries has added wall-sized posters to their office, with messages that reflect the bold, industrial nature of the Tricam corporate brand, along with product brands like Gorilla Ladders and Weather Guard.
No matter your particular situation, your workspace is a reflection of your brand vision and company values. Creating a branded experience for your clients and staff — one that transcends the layout of furniture and works beyond the mere aesthetic—can help distinguish you from the competition.