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Workplace Branding: Your Secret Weapon

Brand, Marketing

Zoom Gloom
According to McKinsey, approximately 80% of remote workers dispute a report they prefer to work-from-home. Although WFH is here to stay in some capacity, teams are ready to telecommute less.

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Chances are you’ve kept spirits up during video calls and are ready for face time (instead of FaceTime). 

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Meanwhile demand for talent is through the roof. Some of your most valuable people might at least be peeking outside to see if the grass is greener.  A recent KPMG survey states losing talent is now the number one risk organizations face.  It’s challenging to keep top-shelf talent and it’s no surprise. Superior talent is up to eight times more productive. So how do you attract and keep it?  

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Consider Office Branding 
Amenities are wonderful, foosball tables are fun, and no one complains about unlimited granola bars in the breakroom. However, a branded workplace makes a long-term impact on culture. It communicates a shared mission, consistent messaging, and keeps your team engaged for the long-haul.  Have you considered the impact your employer brand in the office environment makes to keep teams engaged?  

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The Blu Ivy Group is a team of “culture architects” in Toronto, ON. They provide employer branding and talent recruitment services. Managing Director Stacy Parker was kind enough to share thoughts on why graphics have an impact.  

Employer Brand Versus Recruitment Marketing

Let’s break down two concepts that get lumped together but are not the same: employer brand and recruitment marketing.

Employer Brand
This is how an employer is perceived, in terms of experience, culture, and what talent thinks of you – both existing team members and talent outside the organization

Recruitment Marketing
This truly is about advertising and marketing to attract new team members.  It is part of your overall brand strategy. How are we going to plan and communicate messaging and, what are our customers going to say about it?

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What Are Some Common Employer Brand Misconceptions?
Many companies use employer branding to promote externally for the sole purpose of recruiting outside talent. “It’s a mistake. The moment you open the doors there needs to be a branded experience that is not just digital,” says Stacy. “People need to invest into holding onto their talent and graphic elements matter.” 

For example, a person is hired, they come back inside the office, and now the message is no longer consistent. “The secret is to weave the same experience into the work environment.”

Create vinyl wall graphics in lunchrooms, common gathering rooms. Use the blank space to reinforce why they join and stay. “The more you brand these concepts, the more it becomes part of the water cooler chat,” reflects Stacy.  “Instead of just digital ads that encouraged them to apply for jobs.”

Your People Are Your Most Valuable Customer

So how do you use these concepts to your advantage as teams come back? Communication. “There should be an overarching PR and customer experience strategy,” stresses Stacy. “It is so important to reinforce messages. Employers should be sharing stories of why I stay.” Your teams are the ones responsible for innovating; connect them to the “why” – 40% at minimum are destined to hand in their resignation letter.

Blu Ivy Insights on office wall graphics:

  • This is not inspirational messages without context or intent: what matters most to your team?  
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your employee: branding should reflect the reason why I am investing my life with you.  
  • The goal is to create an in-person experience that reconnects, re-engages, and re-recruits your talent.  

What Goes Up On Your Walls

Don’t slap a bunch of graphics up around the office without planning or intent. Amy Dennis is the Founder and Creative Director of Nice Branding, a creative agency in Nashville, Tennessee. Read more for her insights on starting points, who to engage, and what to include. 

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Who are the stakeholders that should take part in the creative process? 
“There’s no one size fits all answer,” says Amy. “When it comes to the creative process, your brand direction and position should lead the way.”

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With that in mind, here are some directions Amy suggests:

  • Put aside personal opinions and desires.
  • Seek creative thinkers and those within the organization with insight into current trends to help facilitate the project.
  • Find colleagues that that have a firm grasp on what motivates your staff. 
  • Connect with team members that manage incoming customers or potential clients.  
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Interior Project Courtesy of Nice Branding

When it comes to environmental branding that makes a positive team impact on the work environment, there are a lot of right answers, but Amy recommends you focus on what excites your team:

  • Consider the audience and what motivates them. Ask them!  
  • Install core values within eyeshot to keep them top of mind for the team.  
  • Add your positioning statement; it reminds them why they come in each day  

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Ultimately, communicate with your team. Just be sure to stay on brand.

“Uncover what makes them tick and what makes them happy,” says Amy. “All elements within the environment should align with the established visual direction for your brand.”

There are several reasons branding makes such an impact on morale. This one is significant: One-third of your life is spent at work!  

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“Where you work, and the environment in which you spend that one-third of your life, must be a positive experience,” stresses Amy. “The more impactful, comfortable, and engaging your space is, the more impact you can have on employee retention. A good brand should be felt as well as seen.” 

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Project Image Courtesy of Nice Branding

Custom Photography for Personalization

So, we know you should engage teams for what motivates them. Our friends at Wonderful Machine weigh in on another way to make an impact: Original photography. At the core, your team members are still the most important customer. “Your team is your biggest asset,” says Bill Cramer, CEO and Founder at Wonderful Machine. “A good photographer can visually tell the story of who you are as a company through their lens.”

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Local Lens
Don’t forget your neighborhood or cityscape. “Whether you choose to commission inspiring landscape photos of the city your business calls home, meaningful imagery of the machinery you operate, or images of your employees, your photography needs should be tailored to your particular brand and its goals.” 

Take Your Time
“What you choose to display in your office should be carefully considered,” says Bill Cramer, Founder & CEO of Wonderful Machine. “Images can be powerful vehicles to communicate your brand personality and make employees feel good about the work they are doing.” 

Last tips from Bill and the Wonderful Machine team: 

  • Showcase your employees and their stories in an authentic way.
  • Show them how much you value their contributions.  
  • Workplace photos should emphasize your brand’s point of view while helping you reinforce your company culture.  

We’ve had the chance to dissect impact on employee morale and ideas for effective interior graphics. Before we wrap, we hear from a company about their office investment. Pareto Intelligence started out as a project of HealthScape Advisors.  

Branding In-House Perspective

Leading the way. “When we expanded into our own company, we used environmental graphics to differentiate the Pareto company culture from that of HealthScape,” says Tammy Allen, head of graphic design. “It was important for us to set the visual tone for the company in the new space.”

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Pareto has a set of core values called “The Pareto Way” and it was important to incorporate the messages. It engages the team each day. “We created a large wall graphic that shows the core values as a daily reminder for employees to live the “Pareto Way,” says Tammy. “And a large-scale Chicago skyline graphic for our conference room to reflect our local roots.” 

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Forming an identity for Pareto using environmental branding (color, icons, graphics) solidifies Pareto as its’ own company in the eyes of the employees. “Having a branded space gives employees a sense of pride in their workplace as well.” says Tammy. 

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What are the components of a successful office environmental branding design? 

  • Maintaining brand consistency is important.  
  • Repetitive use of color or graphic elements can make a large space feel more connected.

The entire Pareto project is in the case studies section.

Thoughtful Functionality

Before we go, think of office branding on a 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional level. Think not only about messaging on horizontal and vertical planes but about how the staff moves through the space.

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“Consider traffic patterns: where are people moving quickly, where are they pausing and talking, sitting, eating, or taking private phone calls,” says Amanda Eich, Managing Designer at Sepia Studio in Chicago. “So you are mindful of keeping the space safe but also where people build rapport in the office.” 

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Even with masks and available vaccines, everyone has become a little extra sensitive to how we interact with others and how our bodies fill space in crowds. Office space is no different. How you treat & brand that space can help ease that sensitivity. 

When you think about it: bathrooms are volumes of space that become (um, well…) pause points. How many times have you left a restaurant or bar and told your friends, check out the bathrooms, they’re cool! “Think about the “front of house” zone and the internal “employees only” zone,” continues Amanda. “How do those areas overlap, and should they, and how does the messaging adjust accordingly?” 

We’d love to hear your feedback and experience branding your space! 

Jon Davis

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