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Office Design with Brand in Mind

Posted by on July 12th, 2016
Posted in Blog, Nonprofit Branding    Tags: , ,

What does your office design say about your organization?

Your brand is much more than your logo or name, and it can’t be summed up through a clever tagline or single message. Your brand is bigger than all those things combined. As Scott Bedbury suggests in his book A New Brand World, “Your brand is the sum of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the off strategy.”

So, if your brand is the summation of all experiences someone has with your organization, one key touch point is what it feels like to walk into one of your offices, facilities, campuses, or outposts.

What are the environmental cues you’re sending through your office design? How do your choices in color, art, furniture, directional signage (or lack thereof), and even conference room names reflect your brand?

You can learn something by noting what Boettcher Foundation did. After 75 years of Colorado giving, the venerable foundation was seen as old and stogy.

Old office design did a bad job of showing brand

A strategic rebranding sought to shift this perception, placing greater focus on the foundation’s forward-looking investments and in those who, as the brand promise communicates, “Climb above timberline.”

The foundation used its new brand strategy to rethink every aspect of its physical space. Walls were repainted with colors from their new visual identity, more modern furniture was brought in, and even classic portraits of founders in gilded frames were replaced with more warmly inviting displays of the foundation’s august past.

Art choices also now reinforce the new brand. Commissioned artwork reflects how legacy investments help shape the Colorado of today.

Office design example - wood art for office

This piece, crafted from Colorado beetle-kill pine, communicates the ripple effect of Boettcher’s investments.

And in a direct reflection of the brand promise, Boettcher hired a photographer to document the staff’s outing—literally hiking up above the timberline. The portraits hang throughout the office.

How you greet visitors to your space offers a great opportunity to reinforce your brand. The vibrant walls we designed for OLE Health are a great example of how a brand can come to life, as is Boettcher’s use of part of their One Minute Message behind the receptionist desk.

OLE Health's office design nicely shows their colorful brand

Another vivid example that anyone can experience is at the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus. From the parking lot to the bathroom, this kid-focused museum re-envisioned its space seeing every wall and every piece of art bringing as an opportunity to bring its brand to life.

office design matches children museum's brand

With a brand promise of opening doors for young minds, how could the Children’s Museum resist the opportunity to make good on their promise to their littlest patrons?

Brand comes to life through every interaction your stakeholders have with your organization. Take the time to think about what this means for your physical space. But don’t just think. Feel what’s right for visitors so they leave without any doubt about what your organization is in business to do and why.

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Zach Hochstadt is a Mission Minded Founding Partner and runs Mission Minded’s Denver office, leading the company’s creative teams in the areas of message development, writing, graphic design, and web design and development.

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