Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bringing your brand to work

BRINGING YOUR BRAND TO WORK by Linda Trim, Director of Giant Leap Workspace Specialists

A company’s culture – the values, work practices, and processes – bring its mission to life. Culture is lived in space, and employees’ behaviours ultimately define the brand.

That’s why creating space to support brand and culture is one of the hottest issues for everyone who plans, designs, or manages workspaces.

“Companies spend a lot of time developing what their brand should be and working to differentiate themselves in the market. The culture of your organization must, in turn, be all about how to make that brand a part of the way you do things. Without that, your carefully developed brand will remain just a concept and never a reality,” says Linda Trim director of Giant Leap Workspace Specialists.

o Start inside first. Start at “home.” Understand the essence of your company, its mission, culture, brand, people, products, etc. Understand the behaviours needed to ensure that employees support the brand and culture. Only then can a space be designed to support those desired behaviours. Engaging all levels of the organization in the planning process creates a better overall solution and builds company-wide support for new space, culture, and behaviours.

o Think multi-layered. A brand is a multitude of different customer communications and experiences. Space should be similarly multi-layered. Using corporate colors, logos, and product imagery and messaging is just a beginning. Drive culture and brand behaviour through adjacencies, traffic flow, different work settings, and by paying close attention to the products and materials used in the workplace. For example, a company committed to sustainability will want to consider energy-saving lighting, low VOC materials, etc.

o Employ symbols and rituals. Product displays are important. But what other artefacts and traditions can help inspire people to build the brand and culture? Wilson Sports Products employees work in a sports arena-style office, not just as a marketing statement but also as a symbol of their culture and ideals. Express the company’s cultural tenets in the symbols, artefacts, and rituals to help make the space a true representation of it.

o Look long-term. Understand that a down economy doesn’t negate the need – or the ability – for any company to use space to further brand and culture. Everyone has constraints with financial realities and space. That doesn’t mean your space can’t contribute to the solution. There are ways to push collaboration, trust, the generation of new ideas, knowledge-sharing, and on and on, with space.

Examples of companies that have used their brand to live their culture:

o Vodafone designed a space for its Amsterdam headquarters that personifies the wireless work style their products are designed to provide. The workspace has no assigned desks or private offices, but plenty of space that encourages mobile workers to rub shoulders in collaboration.

o Royal Caribbean, the worldwide cruise line, opened a call center in Oregon, USA that from the outside looks like a ship ready to sail and on the inside feels like an aloha shirt.

Unlike call centers laid out as a maze of cubicles, this one’s as bright, colourful, and nearly as open as a cruise ship.

o Google’s headquarters offices are like their homepage: colourful, bright, welcoming, fun places to work.

Every workspace tells the story of a company. Enter a space and you immediately get an instinctive sense about what goes on there. The mood, the energy level, even the management style is palpable. Space must answer the questions: What does the company do? How does it operate? What is this company all about?

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