Does Your Space Represent Your Brand?

Experiential Innovation

Make your place of business an important part of your branding effort.

We’ve all been in those businesses that just feel great from the minute you walk through the doors. The colors are perfect and the fixtures perfectly display products, as relaxing music plays in the background. It even smells good. It’s the kind of place you look forward to visiting and don’t want to leave.

That kind of environment inspires customers to linger—and often to spend more money. Whether your company conducts its transactions as a bricks-and-mortar retailer, service provider, mobile business, or other entity, your “space” should support your brand and identity in everything from its design and interior to its signage or vehicle wrap. By carrying your brand and its look through your place of business, you send a strong message that you’re serious about delivering on your brand promise, says Ani Collum, founder of design consultancy Retail Concepts in Norwell, Massachusetts.

Ready to infuse your brand into your business space? Try these five steps:

Design for flexibility

When you’re creating your brand’s “look,” it’s important to think about how it will be applied, and give yourself a measure of flexibility, says Karen Sutter, founder of Lanham, Maryland-based The Sutter Group, a branding and marketing consultancy. Sutter advises, when possible, to create horizontal and vertical logo formats to accommodate space limitations in various applications. It’s also a good idea to have color and black-and-white versions for one-color formats. For signage, also consider metallic versions.

“When integrating the brand into [an organization’s] place of business, we visit their office or store and photograph and videotape all of the public spaces to determine where and on what substrates the brand will be placed,” she says. That helps them think about how to best represent the brand in various formats.

Look for opportunities

Often, small details can offer delightful and surprising ways to communicate your brand message, Collum says. She points to Dry Bar, a hair styling chain that offers hair washing and blow-dry services. You’ll find their iconic yellow blow dryer in their logo, website, and store design. Even the light fixtures in some stores are hair dryers. Think about your fixtures, colors, décor accessories, and other design elements, and look for ways to make them truly reflective of your business, she suggests. Sutton agrees. Everything in your design says something about your business. When her firm does a site inspection, they look at details like door materials. Entry doors that are glass, wood, bamboo, or recycled material each send a different message. What materials are used in your office, store, or vehicle, and what are they saying about your company, she asks.

Consider your touchpoints

Where are people interacting with your company? Do you have a food truck or a service vehicle that could promote your brand better if it was wrapped in your company colors and logo? Are the colors, layout, and furniture in your office reflecting the same messages you spent so much time developing in your logo? Does your store signage use the colors and typography people associate with your brand?

“These are all elements that make a difference when you’re creating a comprehensive branding effort,” Collum says.

Create brand guidelines

With the prevalence of simple desktop design programs and readily available printing services, virtually anyone in your office can design a sign, flyer, or other element that doesn’t properly reflect your brand. To ward off such brand misrepresentation, The Sutton Group creates brand usage guidelines that include details about how logos, colors, and typography should be used and in what formats. Creating such guidelines doesn’t have to be an onerous process. Sometimes, just a one- to two-page list of best practices can help stop amateur designers from going too far afield of the brand.

Pay attention to the details

Collum says that one of the most important contributions to an overall brand lies in the customer experience in the place of business. If you have a store that caters to parents of young children and don’t have aisles that are wide enough to accommodate strollers, you’re not living up to your brand promise—and you’re going to have frustrated customers, as well. Examine your place of business as if you were a customer dealing with it for the first time. What is the experience like? Can it be improved to better embody your brand? Nailing the details goes a long way toward building a strong, sustainable brand and business, Collum says.

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