Using Office Design to Tell Your Brand’s Story

If your space looks like all of your competitors, it’s going to be harder to stand out among the crowd. Why not use office design to your advantage? Here’s how.

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Using Office Design to Tell Your Brand's Story

Here's what you need to know:

  • Develop a clear and cohesive brand narrative that tells the story of your company both factually and emotionally
  • From there, you can begin to best reflect your brand through your office design
  • Consider your office’s layout and the path that people take — every part of that journey is an opportunity to tell your brand’s story
  • Add unique workplace features that reflect your company’s values, products, and services

Coming up with an interesting logo, featuring it prominently on a central office wall, and buying furniture to match is 1 way to use office design to tell your brand’s story. But it’s not the only way. And it’s probably not the best or most effective way, either.

Especially if you host client meetings in your office, if your space looks like all of your competitors, it’s going to be harder to stand out among the crowd. Why not use office design to your advantage?

One benefit is creating a cooler, more inspiring place to work that connects employees to your brand. Another is communicating to potential clients that you know what you’re doing and what sets your business apart from the moment they walk through the door.

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First, know what your company’s brand is

Many people think that they have a clear idea of what their brand is without realizing that they don’t. Your brand is the unique way that your product, company, or service is recognized by those who see and experience it.

A well-done brand is about much more than a name or logo. It’s a story that evokes emotion and a reason for your company’s being.

Take Apple for example. Apple isn’t just a computer or phone brand. As Wired explained a decade ago, Apple’s brand has been key to its success, but it has nothing to do with the products it sells. It has to do with how beloved it is by its customers.

This is thanks in part to its humanistic corporate culture, its unique visual and verbal vocabulary, and the connection it has created with its customers.

Develop a clear and cohesive brand narrative that tells the story of your company both factually and emotionally.

Of course, not every small business has the same brand and marketing resources as Apple. You might not be able to go through a major rebrand, but you can get super clear on what your brand is.

Develop a clear and cohesive brand narrative that tells the story of your company both factually and emotionally.

It’s from here, with a solid brand and brand narrative in place, that you can begin to best reflect your brand through your office design.

Think about how the physical space can map your brand story

Your website isn’t the only place for your brand’s story. Consider your office’s layout and the path that people take to, say, the customer service desk or a conference room. Every part of that journey is an opportunity to tell your brand’s story.

Near the front door you can add in touches of the beginnings of your business. Maybe you have the framed 1st dollar your business ever made hung on the wall.

You can add in a little placard (think museums) explaining it and some of the beginnings of your business.

In shared spaces you can incorporate your company values if they reflect community or connection. Maybe generosity is part of your company’s core values. Consider designating a shelf in the fridge for free food and snacks that people can freely take from and contribute to.

Maybe volunteerism is something your business values. You can have a monthly volunteer day and keep the sign up sheet in community spaces.

If your brand is all about collaboration, be sure to have community workspaces where people can work together. If sustainability is key, then consider taking a nature-first approach to your office design.

This is an example of 1 way to communicate your values without just plastering them all over the wall. Add in nature motifs like plants and plant graphics to communicate your company’s reverence for nature.

The cool thing about this approach is that you can get really creative with it. There’s no right way to tell your brand’s story through your office’s physical layout. It’s all about what feels right for you and your employees.

Add unique workplace features that express your brand

This is all about unique touches and flairs that speak to your unique company. If your company is in the sports business, maybe you have a sports equipment locker prominently featured.

In the locker, you can store things like basketballs, soccer balls, and the like. That way, employees can grab them and play a quick game on break or after work.

If your company is in the gaming space, consider play spaces. Why not have a game room where employees can indulge in gaming? It’s probably their interest that drew them to your company in the first place.

If you’re a cookbook company that’s focused on healthy eating, it would make sense for your company to have a smoothie bar and healthy snack options.

But it’s about more than just the kind of work your business does. If your company is all about innovation and forward thinking, then you’ll want to deploy a modern office design. If your brand is about history and traditions, opt for something more classic.

In the modern approach, consider sprinkling in modern art and maybe even having some custom modern furniture designed, too. If your brand is more classic, you can go the vintage route. Invest in a retro water cooler and hang classic photography, for example.

Using office design to tell your brand’s story is all about knowing what your brand story is and reflecting that in your design choices.

Hire help if you feel like you’re in over your head

Office design, much less design in general, just isn’t everyone’s strong suit. Maybe you clearly see the value of communicating your brand’s story through your office space but can’t see how to get there.

Luckily, you don’t have to. While it’s certainly more cost-effective to take a DIY approach, there are also professionals who are ready to help. As Mammoth New York explains, they specialize in creating the right spaces for the right use.

Take for example their case study on Nuts.com. “When I first walked into their space, I was shocked — the dilapidated and grimy office they were occupying was incongruous with the cheerful image of the company,” writes Mammoth’s Maryana Grinshpun.

But she was undeterred. She met with the COO to hunt for insights from the company’s history or future goals that could anchor the design process.

The COO shared with her the company’s humble beginnings. “It was started in 1929 — during the Great Depression — as a nut car [in] Newark’s Penn Station by the (current) CEO’s grandfather,” Grinshpun writes. “The family business has been cared for by three generations. This legacy of both looking back to their past and sharing it with their current employees [to help] the company grow… made them unique.”

Designers like Grinshpun are able to take sometimes tiny storytelling nuggets or pieces of information and spin a whole design concept off of them. Paying for a designer to carry out the process from its beginning in ideation to completed construction can be costly.

But engaging a designer to help you refine your brand story and transform that story into design elements can be a starting place. Look for someone who is willing to help you with the conception and definition of your project.

Revamping your office design doesn’t have to happen overnight

Office design can be overwhelming, but it can also be fun and exciting. Lean into the possibilities. Get help if you need it and take it slowly. Revamping your office design to tell your brand story doesn’t have to happen all at once.

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