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The Sounds of Sieren

Expert Perspective

“Stand for something – when you do, your brand can consistently come to life across a thousand channels.”

Earlier this year David Sieren was named in New City’s Design 50 Who Shapes Chicago.  At One Design, he’s at the forefront of brand and communication strategy of their client portfolio. The firm is an independent, award-winning brand strategy, design, and communications studio based in Chicago. President Emeritus at AIGA Chicago and adjunct faculty at DePaul University, his insights are shaping brands throughout the country.

His work has been recognized at home and abroad by the likes of Communication Arts, Print, HOW, AIGA Chicago, Society of Typographic Arts, The New York Times, Brand New, Design Museum of Chicago, and the BBC. We met during Chicago Design Week and stayed in touch. Planning new content around window graphics, I asked if he might want to contribute.

I was beyond excited when this truly humble reply hit my inbox:

“If I can add something of value to the series you’re working on, I’d love to help.”

We scheduled a call: It would be a quick brainstorm to figure out his contribution. Forty minutes later, we were still talking, and it was clear David’s insights deserved its own article. Luckily, I could make sense of the notes I scrawled.  Good luck reading my chicken scratch.

Yes, I somehow failed to record the Zoom. David is truly a great person and excited to share more from this interview. Hope you enjoy it.

Of Web and Windows 

Since I pitched the idea of commentary on window signage naturally, that’s where we started. A storefront is consumer facing. It can be the first impression for a new customer. Sound familiar? No doubt many first impressions happen on your website. But just because you received a website click or had a prospect walk by your storefront, does not mean you earned a new customer.

“Both should reflect your brand and be consistent,” says David. “A website and window graphics have similar uses – they draw people in or push them away.”

Create a memorable experience. Do not undercut your brand. People will quickly figure it out. Makes me think of an article discussing the parallels between environmental branding and website design I found a few months back. We have all experienced this: a business that scotch tapes a sign from their laser printer on the front door or window.

Authority Labs sums it this way :

“Taping a sheet of printer paper onto a window is sloppy; it shows very little care for public presentation.”

Back to David:

“Be mysterious. Be creative. Give the customer something to think about – both mediums – your physical exterior and your website – should entice them to step inside and learn more.”

Add Atmosphere

Moving on to environmental branding and office graphics, interiors help move plans forward. “It’s so important to understand the specific role the space plays in the journey of your audience,” says David. “Think about internal environments in the long-term.” Specifically recruiting and retaining talent. “For just about any start-up, there will be a need to build out teams,” he says. “Look at 1871 and the number of companies incubating in that space. Each one has sights on graduating into their own environment.”

David says it is important for any growing company to consider the statement properly planned brand expression makes:

  • Signals maturity of a company ready to take next steps and grow
  • Supports and reinforces the values and perspective of a company
  • Increases employee retention by building organizational pride, which in turn can save money.

Impact on Customers

When clients step inside your workspace, what do you want the client to feel? What are you trying to communicate? Avoid chintzy picture frames. Or if you do buy them, replace the stock photos. Happy team members make a difference and branding creates a welcoming environment too. “Walls are as equally as important as the person coming out to greet you,” says David. “If your environment feels different, memorable, and authentic to who you are, you may have found the catalyst and that helps the customer remember who you are.”

The best experiences are the most intentional experiences.

“Think about it – a suit and tie are intentional – think about what you wear to an interview to make a first impression.” If you are going to make a large investment in your website how can you not invest in your space?

“Create multiple touchpoints that make the right impression. It will make a lasting impact that grows your business and brand.”

Thanks for reading. Be sure to visit One Design and learn more about their work!

Jon Davis
Jon Davis

Jon Davis is Cushing’s Marketing Manager. From blogging to online communications, Jon writes about client developments, environmental branding, and much more. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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