Jacksonville 904 — April/May/June 2017
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Marketing: Branding Your Environment
Juliet Johnson

Branding Your Environment <br /> <br /> Your product has your name all over it. Why shouldn’t your office be the same?<br /> <br /> In today’s fast, colorful, noisy economy, a company’s “brand” is more than a key identifier. It represents the entirety of what the business stands for: its ethics, its customer service, the promise of its product or service and communicates that by setting the tone for what both customers and employees can expect in a recognizable voice.<br /> <br /> It is a lot of narrative to incorporate into retail or office space: to dimensionalize how both customers and employees interact with the firm. But if you just put up the logo, and use the logo colors all around the foyer and think you’re done, you’re missing a massive opportunity to do so much more.<br /> <br /> “When a space fits the brand, when it fully embodies what the company stands for, everyone can see it. Not just customers but employees, business partners and vendors alike,” John Perez of HOTA Design Studio (HDS) explains. “A clearly branded environment keeps everyone on the same page.” <br /> <br /> This concept is credited with helping companies attract and keep top talent. Think of the famous amenities at the Silicon Valley companies—free food, onsite child and pet care, campus barbers, bikes and laundry facilities. “Smaller companies do not have to go this far,” says HDS’ Jose Cardena, “but the more companies consider the whole employee, the more valued they feel and the more productive they become.” <br /> <br /> Framed artwork is making way for large graphics that remind everyone of the company’s mission. Other graphics can include the company narrative, with key milestones prominently displayed. Sometimes quotes from delighted customers are effective; testimonials reinforce good customer service and help keep the focus on the results of good work done right. <br /> <br /> “Remember color theory,” says Perez. “Logo colors are often way too strong for a whole wall. Some colors are not conducive to productive work. Color is a note that needs to be carefully played.” <br /> <br /> “Branding through the environment can be a substantial investment. Usually it’s phase two, after a website and the mobile app,” says Calvin Bryant of C7 Creative in Jax Beach. “It is a valuable strategic investment, considering the various touchpoints or intersections with a customer. Do customers need to see you to believe you? Do they stop by? The ROI flows from there. Start by knowing exactly who you want to attract—your best customer. The narrower the niche the better.” <br /> <br /> Think in terms of age (as in generation), income, geography, lifestyle. “We get to know all their key differentiators and reverse engineer what needs to be in each space from there.” <br /> <br /> Keep in mind your industry vernacular so that you can meet customers’ expectations. For example, if your tagline is “Dream Big, Shine Brightly,” it does you no good to have a small, dark space in the back of a rundown office complex. Would you trust a law office with no books? It is logical to assume a library would be superfluous in today’s digital age. Oddly enough, attorneys do still like to find the exact reference volume so as to refresh their visual memory in context. “When I see the words on the page, the rest of what I learned alongside that case comes back into focus,” says Gregg Gerlach, a Jacksonville Employment Law attorney.<br /> <br /> “You can reinforce a professional’s local expertise with displays of locally related décor or artifacts.” Bryant recalls a Jacksonville CPA where the office’s collection of political memorabilia uniquely connected the business to the City of Jacksonville.<br /> <br /> “It is important to make sure the purpose for each space is clear,” Cardenas says. “If collaborative work has to take place, there needs to be space to do it. There needs to be room for ideas and hoteling workstations to flow.” Hoteling means when a work-at-home type, or someone from another office, brings their laptop to collaborate on a project.<br /> <br /> With commercial design, the same problem often arises as in residential. Owners curate lists of All the things they like and want to use them all. For clear messaging, “Less is definitely more,” laughs Cardenas.<br /> <br /> Branded environments offer the benefits of inspiration and focus. Customers are informed while employees are kept on the same track. Everyone becomes immersed in the brand’s experience. The return on investment also includes attraction of key talent and employee retention.<br /> <br /> Bryant wraps up with this key recommendation: Put a station where customers can immediately submit a review. Testimonials are not always easy to get once the customer has left the transaction, yet reviews are essential to business success today.<br /> <br /> Missing the Point <br /> <br /> Don’t ruin your sales pitch by saying too much<br /> <br /> Burying the lead, circling the bull’s-eye, beating around the bush—far too many business executives are guilty of this when it comes to selling themselves and their company. We live in a world where instead of spending time debating the answer to a question amongst friends, it can be Googled in less than ten seconds. That instant satisfaction should translate in the business world, because potential clients will lose interest. If it takes you ten minutes to explain what your company does, you’re doing it wrong.<br /> <br /> “I think coming up with an elevator pitch— being able to sum up who they are and what they do in about 30 seconds—is one of the biggest challenges for business owners and entrepreneurs,” says public relations specialist Liz Morgan. She explains one of the reasons it’s so difficult is because business owners eat, sleep and breathe their company or product. They’re too close to it to succinctly summarize it for someone unfamiliar.<br /> <br /> Figure out how to define what you do for a living in 30 seconds or less in an organic way. “The elevator pitch should be two or three sentences at the most and be as uncomplicated as possible,” says Morgan. Remove the industry jargon and condense your pitch down to what the customer needs to know. One important tip: practice at home. A successful business owner or executive will be able to pitch a company, product or service anywhere from cocktail hour to a statewide conference.<br />