Brands today are more than just a logo, a name, a colour scheme, or even the products that they offer. The workplace is the brand; the people that work there are the brand. You shouldn’t require a logo on the wall to show you where you work – the whole environment and its working culture should reflect the company’s values. Physical architecture should be harmoniously aligned with brand architecture. This is what we mean by “extending the brand”: incorporating a strong and coherent brand identity into every part of the business.
The Brand as a Lived Experience
It’s important for your working culture to represent your brand. This is best achieved through human-centric design: every space should be built with the needs and working practices of your staff in mind. If your company ethos is about creativity, collaboration, and sharing, for instance, these values should all be reflected in your offices. People make a company, and people make a brand. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that when workplaces are well aligned with the company’s culture, staff are more engaged, productive and satisfied.
It’s hard to get the balance right between allowing employees the freedom to be themselves, and maintaining a corporate identity that will hold everyone together, but very important. By designing an environment that allows employees to work how and where they want, but also fosters a good understanding of the company’s objectives and values, employers can create a strong sense of community in which everybody feels involved. The brands we work for have become an important part of our lives, and we want to work somewhere where meaning will be added to those lives. Your day-to-day environment should tell you why you work, as well as where you work.
Thinking of your brand in terms of lived experience will also help to attract and retain more business: clients want to be able to feel what you’re all about just by visiting your offices. So, show them a company they’ll want to work with, and a space they’ll want to come back to time and time again.
A well thought-out workplace tells a story. Think of Disneyland: when you’re walking around Disneyland, you don’t need a sign to tell you so. Everything there is unmistakably Disney. And today’s offices should function in the same way.
For instance, Prada has installed one of the artist Carsten Holler’s slides in its Milanese headquarters, which point to the company’s love of high art but also its sense of humour. Likewise, Apple’s futuristic design sensibility is embodied by the architecture of its circular “spaceship” headquarters in Cupertino. Another great example is Airbnb’s headquarters in San Francisco, which is cleverly designed to look like a city street lined with dream apartments, but is actually a series of workspaces that you peer into and want to spend time in. As such, the architecture both symbolises the company’s ethos and creates a highly appealing environment for its staff.
Extending a brand is about more than large-scale architectural interventions too. Your company’s personality should be reflected everywhere in the workplace, right down to small details like the choice of plants, the refreshments in the fridge and the biscuits in the tin.
Choosing the right furniture is essential, and all of Spacestor’s furniture can be tailored to become part of a company’s identity. A nice example of this is the use of our Palisades system by Lyft: each of Lyft’s driver centres has a Palisades divider installed at the entrance to their building. This has become a key part of their visual language, and reflects the company’s values of openness and sharing.
Workplace design today is more important than it’s ever been. Your workplace should be as creative as your employees. By extending your brand throughout the workspace, you can tell a story about yourself, boost productivity, creativity and happiness, and keep every part of your company perfectly aligned and working together.