When executed properly, a good branding strategy informs customers as to exactly what level of product or service they can expect from your company. It’s not about plastering your logo onto every available flat surface; rather, it’s about setting expectations in the customer’s mind and then flawlessly delivering on those expectations with every interaction — whether that’s online, on the phone, or at your office.
But when it comes to designing and decorating an office or branded retail space to match and reinforce a given branding strategy, small and medium-sized businesses often find themselves at a disadvantage. Leased office space usually comes with restrictions on alterations (particularly with regards to the structural components of the building), and startups often don’t have the cash to make substantial architectural upgrades even if they’re purchasing their own building.
Given these restrictions, it can be challenging to design your branded environment in a manner that accurately reflects your brand. Yet presenting a consistent look-and-feel to clients, vendors, and business partners is absolutely critical. When visitors come to your office, you want them to feel that same sense of anticipation, expectation, and brand recognition that they felt when they first walked into your trade show booth.
Here are a few office decorating ideas to help you create the perfect branded office without violating your lease or breaking the bank.
- Start with Customer-Facing Areas. If your budget is tight, work on branding your lobby, foyer, and conference rooms first. While branding is also important for your internal staff, you can “baby step” your way into branding employee-only areas, such as break rooms, restrooms, etc., over time.
- Enhance the Reception Area: When a prospective client first walks into your lobby, where do you want them to look? Visitors will naturally gravitate toward the reception desk, but can you add a little extra zing to that area to really grab their attention? A tastefully branded overhead display or hanging sign near that area is a nice touch because it can be designed to reinforce your brand’s prime messaging points, as well as provide a warm welcome.
- Make Your Walls Work for You: Whether your brand is rich, bold and masculine or light, bright and airy, plain plaster walls rarely have the power to convey the true feel of your brand, even when painted. Luckily, there are inexpensive ways to add branding to your lobby walls.
Instead of hanging framed art, consider taking advantage of the brandable space by installing a custom modular display or graphic wall to help tell your company’s story or display product samples, literature, and promotional video.
Wish you had a nice fireplace in your conference room? An alternative to consider – and one that we use here as EXHIB-IT! – is a photorealistic V-Burst backlit fabric display. A large 10’x10’ backlit display not only covers an entire ugly wall, but the light coming through the fabric adds soft ambience to the whole area without any glare. Since you can print whatever high-resolution image on it that you want, you could actually create your own virtual fireplace, an exposed brick wall, or an outdoor scene. Just be sure that the image you choose truly complements your brand.
- Don’t Forget to Greet the Feet. As we discussed in a previous blog article, the right flooring sends a subconscious message, inviting visitors to step into your trade booth. But it’s also the pièce de résistance of the perfectly branded lobby because it completes the overall sensory experience that you’re trying to establish.