Work is business and business is an office, so you can easily conclude that work is an office. Either your doing it for a living or just for yourself, when approaching an office from a design perspective you need to pay extra attention to BRANDING. A simple marketing strategy with huge impacts on a business. Thus how could you exclude interior design from branding when business is essentially conducted in a space aka your office?
How can I define very simple branding? According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is
a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. The legal term for brand is trademark. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for the firm as a whole, the preferred term is trade name.
The first word you should keep in mind is distinct. Branding should always differentiate your business from competition, and being distinct is the equivalent of being different. Creative persons understand the power of distinction, and apply it unconsciously throughout their entire work. But correlating distinction with branding is purely artistry; especially for a designer working on an office project.
WHY SHOULD I USE BRANDING?
In real practice, you could see branding as the common ground for promise and expectation. A business promote itself in front of a client as offering something which is promising to solve a problem; when the client acquires something from a specific business he expects the problem to be solve. When both promise and expectation have produced the same effect, an emotional attachment is created between the brand and the client. You could say a specific brand stands for a specific promise.
Like Apple stands for distinctively designed, easy to use electronics, Ferrari for sports car, Rolex for high end watches or Zara for affordable designer clothing. Just by saying the name, the brand definition already pops-up in the prospect mind.
An you, as a designer, should always keep in mind, what is the promise of your/your client`s brand. It is your duty to embed as much as possible from that definition in your design proposal. It keeps the brand consistently and strengthens the connection with the prospect. Using a more detailed explanation, here are the three C`s of branding and their powerful effects:
- Credibility : a credible brand will always align the way a business behaves with the way it is portrayed, ensuring the customer’s instinctive reaction to be one of trust and belief in the brand (in opposition with doubt and uncertainty).
- Clarity : a clear understanding of the brand values throughout your business will ensure that they are communicated clearly through everything the business says and everything the business does.
- Consistency: the value of a brand comes through recognition and recognition comes from consistent application of every visible manifestation of your business.
Branding is not related with the size of the business. So even if your just setting a small home office, you should faithfully exhibit it. Branding effects are strictly targeting the client, and that`s how they should always be kept. You could always say that keeping branding from home offices is like sentencing to death small businesses.
HOW TO INCLUDE BRANDING IN YOUR DESIGN
There are several ways to include branding in a design project. You can start by studying the brands graphics: logo, representative colors, uniforms, etc. Then you can add its statement (words clearly associated with the brand) or transpose the brands services using interior design capabilities. I have depicted bellow a few examples of offices and what branding elements they include.
CASE STUDY: The office was designed keeping in mind the logo and its representative colors: red, black and gray. You can easily observe how the designer kept the curvature of the logo within each desk. The combination of the representative colors is using the same balance ratio as the logo. The designer choices clearly position the employer in the mind of the employees and creates a specific definition for future prospects (in this case a university and its future students). The unconventional furniture design shows how open the brand is towards future, critically for backing up how a university always appreciates new students and that it is there to prepare them for future jobs.
CASE STUDY: The office design is serving an IT Service company. IT is strongly correlated with innovation and with the future in the prospects` mind. A modern, sleek design was the obvious choice in this case, emphasized by the usage of modern materials: acrylic & engineered wood. In order to differentiate the company from its competitor, the logo was prominently displayed in the office as a signage, along with the company statement; it reassures the clients that they are in good hands. The color palette was strictly correlated with the logo (gray, black and blue), and choosing blue as the accent was determined by the trust factor. By using custom made furniture for both executive and work station area, the employees are shown that they belong to a company that equally cares about their well being.
CASE STUDY: Not all the time an office design project has to be done from scratch. For example, this food company was extending its marketing department. This means that its offices were already branded; what the decorator had to do? Well, keep the new design in balance with the existing brand elements. Thus all added elements were having a clean finish (like the custom made acrylic shelves and window sills), not making a huge statement and the color palette was pretty neutral: white, black and a faded turquoise (the existing wall paint). The overall aspect had to exhibit the company brand: cleanness, corporate environment and stability. The artwork was kept from the previously design, since it was related with the company services.
CASE STUDY: A recent survey showed that 1 in 4 american households have a home office, which is used to conduct a small business activities. As previously stated, small business does not imply lack of branding. On the contrary: even thought it might be easy to create a design for a home office, as a designer, you still need to focus on transposing the brand associated with the business in the actual home office. It might be less corporate but it should definitively state to the prospect what the business stands for. In this example the overall design is modern, but still rich in materials: wood floors and wood wall covering; it will transmit to the client that the business produces quality work and that details are highly important. The art hanged on the wall shows the unconventional side of the business owner, along with the idea of being sometimes capable to take calculated risks.
Interior design and branding should always be part of your design or marketing strategies. Keep in mind the extended benefits and you can be sure your/your client’s business will have a consistent definition in the prospect`s mind!
Your comments are always highly appreciate, so please let me know your thoughts on the topic!
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