Interior Design: Your Secret Branding Tool
3 Interior Details You Can't Afford to Miss
It's no coincidence that you can walk into a Starbucks in Tokyo or Berlin or Seattle and get the same kind of feels. Even when being respectful of different architectural elements or building styles, Starbucks understands that customer experience inside their stores is as important as the coffee itself. In fact, some would argue that's it's even more important; is there any other reason an otherwise average cup of milk and java would inspire such a following?
Creating a branded interior is something businesses and organizations of all kinds, not just international coffee chains, can benefit from. Interior design should be considered as an important extension of your brand. The same questions we ask of printed or digital branding (What values are you trying to communicate? Who is your target demographic?) apply to interior spaces as well. Your interior space is where your clients are allowed to personally interact with your brand and creating a positive in-person customer experience is crucial in creating a loyal client base.
We so often see interior spaces that send inconsistent messaging from the rest of a client's branding that we thought it was high time to shed some light on the fact that interior design is a secret branding tool you need to be paying more attention to. If you do nothing else, focus on these top three areas:
Ditch the Personal Clutter
Please do not misinterpret this to mean you can't create a workspace that feels personal to you; after all, you likely spend as much time at the office as you do in your own living room. But your office shouldn't look like your living room. A few personal effects near your desk area are great (I keep some of my fave pics and inspirational little things on a pinboard by my desk) but the public areas of our office are clear of this type of clutter. These spaces need to focus on the client, their wants, their needs and their experience with our space. Real estate pros know that staging a home impeccably can increase the final selling price. Clients need to see themselves in the home, not the current owners. Similarly, if the public areas of your office or retail space are infused with too much of your personal items, you're taking away invaluable attention from what you're actually trying to sell: your products or services. Create a space that feels clean, uncluttered and focused on your client.
Please, step into my office! Kidding!! I'm into Industrial Chic but I understand that our clients need to feel comfortable in our space so something this barren would never fly. But you know what you don't see in this space? Personal clutter. ;)
Tell the Same Story Inside as Out
Clients respond in a big way to mismatches in brand messaging (and it's not in the way you want them to respond). For example, if you're a dentist that's recently invested in a modern, fresh logo and crisp new outdoor signage to match - that's super-fantastic. But when I show up to my appointment and your waiting area features chairs from the 80s and a beat up old magazine rack, the impression you worked so hard to build on the outside just got majorly diluted. This doesn't mean you need to spend zillions of dollars on fancy new furniture but investing in something that feels more in line with the rest of your branding will go a long way in helping you build a consistent brand image. This investment will pay off in dividends every time a new client feels reassured by your consistent messaging. You can create consistency in smaller ways too: Are your walls painted in a palette consistent with your branding? Are pictures on the walls sending the same message? Is your interior signage or point-of-purchase display area branded the same as your exterior signage? It's all of these things together that build a strong brand.
Every Little Detail Matters
While big things like paint, signage, and furniture might seem like obvious ways to create brand consistency with your interior space, there are small things you can do that show your clients you're on your game as well. These things are so small that you might find them unnecessary but you couldn't be more wrong. Everything from the color pens in the cup on your front counter to the wattage of light bulbs matters. Seriously. These are the little details that clients will subconsciously pick up on and respond to. When all of the pens on your front desk are branded with your own logo, your customers are exposed to your brand over and over again. Maybe they pick one up and put it in their purse... now you're on their mind every time they use your pen and the pop of "your color" is with them everywhere in addition to acting as "decor" on your front counter. Think of other items in your space can you give similar treatment to. What about having some other promotional items on hand? Or beautifully coordinating printed marketing materials? WHAT COLOR ARE YOUR POST-IT NOTES?
And, finally, what is this about light bulbs?? Well, light is a (super inexpensive) way to get customers to feel the way you want them to. A car dealership needs bright lights in their showroom to show off all the shiny cars. A quiet French restaurant may rely on candlelight to invoke a romantic mood. And back to our good friends at Starbucks? It's no mistake that the menu board, glass case of treats and retail display areas are given a little extra light thanks to well-placed track lighting. From space to space, all around the world, Starbucks manages to control the design of their interiors enough that even without their green mark on everything you'd know in an instant when you're inside one of their cafes.