The golden arches, an apple and the swoosh, these symbols reflect strong brands. But the power of the brand is beyond the symbol.  It is an experience that customers, clients, and employees develop a strong affiliation with.  Interpreting your vision and who you are in a workplace are most effective when client, architect, brand, and communications agency work as a team. The Unilever Singapore project demonstrates the result of their collaboration.  Mike Gowar from Playgroup, the team who was responsible for developing initial concept, identifying branding opportunities, artworks, managing production and installation, shares some insights on branding.

Branding coexists with culture, and the workplace has to support the company culture to keep employees engaged and attract talent.  

1. So, how important is branding in the workplace? 

According to a Steelcase study, “The workplace is a frequently overlooked, but critical lever in supporting a brand and culture change. This was validated by a recent survey of 123 corporate real estate leaders conducted by CoreNet Global. The results show that 77% believe that brand is a critical driver for their business; yet only 54% said the workplace plays a critical role in supporting it and only 15% said their facilities reflect their brand “very well.” 

2. What are the key areas where branding is critical?

A. Common Areas
Common areas such as the reception, conference rooms and break rooms are spaces we incorporate unique architectural elements and company color palette.  Mike shares that "the reception area, large meeting rooms and columns off the main workspace provided the most impact and the greatest visibility to tell the stories around the building".  He also added "Ensure the various different types of spaces the building has to offer are used most effectively, e.g. reception areas, external meeting rooms, break-out spaces, etc and make sure the appropriate messages are delivered in each area. In other words, plan the branding allocation correctly at the outset". 
B. Workspaces 
Provide a workplace that supports your company’s intent.  Some companies are traditional in nature, prefer closed offices and higher panel height cubicles. This supports heads down, focused type of work. Creative and team oriented workplaces encourage collaboration, the company might go for more open spaces and group pods.  The opportunity of teleworking is possible through technology.  Offer touchdown spaces when they are onsite. Finding the right fit for your workplace requires analysis and smart planning.  Turnstone design team can assess and help you design the space that fits what you need. 

3. How can I show who we are in a tight budget? 
A. Mike suggests to "consider using some of the core brand elements to represent the brand. For example, if there is a predominant brand color, consider painting some walls in that color to hint at the brand. Consider fewer but more impact areas to brand, such as the reception or the most-used break-out areas of the building". 
B. As for furniture, use these colors and patterns as accents like panel fabrics, metal finishes on pedestal file, upholstery on tasks chairs, lounge chairs and ottomans.  
C. Main architectural elements like glass or any specialty material prudently distributed throughout the main common areas of the space.  Mike suggests using low cost materials like digital graphic wallpapers instead of the 3 dimensional ones. 

4. What other creative ways can we express our culture?
A. Incorporate accessories that support your culture like the Bivi bikehooks or Bivi board racks and planters if you about green living; more movable re configurable furniture like Turnstone's Bivi desks if you are about growth and change. 

B. Name conference rooms or break out areas from relevant people and places.

Establishing a brand means a commitment to your product and service and in return the clients will develop a trust with your brand. It is the experience that your workplace and culture brings out that makes you unique. Provide the right tools to keep your workers engaged and inspired.

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