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Workplace branding is more than skin deep…

Workplace Branding Is More Than Skin Deep…

We read an article recently on Office Snapshots about branding in the workplace:

“When we think of a brand, chances are that a logo, several products, and maybe an advertisement will come to mind. Coca-cola and Coke, Apple and iPhones, etc. But the differences between great brands and mediocre brands often lies in what’s behind them – employees, values, and work ethic. Office design is not the same as office decorating. And in no place does this ring more true than when it comes to branding.”

Most office branding goes no further that a logo in reception, some might go a little further and put an ‘inspirational’ saying, or montage of buzzwords and phrases on a wall. While those things may reflect what the brand is trying to aspire to, they’re little better than the old fashioned inspirational posters that used to adorn the walls of boardrooms in the 1980s. And that’s as far as most companies go:

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According to those figures, the most important stat – “a workplace designed to encourage behaviour that is consistent with the brand” is right down at only 50%. You can put as many logos and platitudes on your walls as you like, but how are you encouraging your employees to feel part of, and become your brand?

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One example of bringing the brand values into the workplace in a more comprehensive way is this redesign of a Vodaphone office in the Netherlands. The new office was designed to promote a ‘mobile working’ concept which applied mobile work, speed, simplicity and trust. The resulting design included:

  • informal meeting rooms on each floor
  • no fixed workstations
  • building divided in fast, medium and slow zones

While there are obviously differing opinions about that type of workplace, in terms of implementing brand characteristics into the workplace itself, it makes a lot of sense. Imagine a mobile company not embracing mobile…

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Another interesting example was Zynga’s branding strategy from day one. Mark Pincus, the company’s CEO, noted in an interview that he began working on branding and company culture early. An important part of his strategy was to just do things he felt like he wanted the company to embrace.

A couple of examples from the early days was the company purchasing gym memberships for employees – and now providing a wonderful gym at their new headquarters building. Another was that being social was important, so lunch was provided for employees at their first office – a tradition that has carried on past its 1000 employee mark. The important thing here is that there was no master plan, but rather gradual changes in the life of the business that built important brand values into the culture.

So while logos and colours are important from a visual point of view, they do nothing to get employees excited or participating in a company’s brand values – that can only come from thinking a little bigger, incorporating those values into every aspect of the working environment, whether it’s sit-stand desks for physical health, breakout spaces for mental health, acoustic solutions to enable more efficient working, or lighting to create the right mood. Or in Google’s case, a slide to get from one floor to another and raise a smile in the process…

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