Building Brands Rooted with a Sense of Community

Community sits at the heart of society. With the world trying to survive and overcome the global COVID-19 pandemic, an event likely to radically alter urban life for the long term, societies are relying heavily on their local communities to maintain consistency, cohesion, and familiarity. For companies that have been around for 100 years or 5, the support from their communities, and the support they give their communities, often defines the foundations of their corporate values. This means that understanding the root and core of an organization becomes paramount when capturing their brand identity and creating their corporate environment.

We recently designed the office spaces for both Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) and a private construction company. Both clients have a long-standing heritage and relationship with the communities they serve, and both incorporated interior branding into their overall design strategy, in very different and unique ways. We are going to dive into how they brought their stories to life within the walls of their workplace environment, using elements of powerful branding.

Adopt a reflective brand environment.

Our physical environment has a profound impact on our mindset, in such a way that without physically noticing branding within an environment, employees can gain a feeling and perception of corporate branding and culture through their everyday use of neighborhoods within the workplace. Equally important to brand and culture, is what keeps employees engaged in those spaces.

Today’s employees are flexible, vibrant and innovative. In order to attract and retain top talent, organizations have to reflect on antiquated designs and cater to the rapidly changing workplace. The work environment should reflect work-life balance, connectivity, inclusion, and productivity.

At the core of Community Preservation Corporation’s (CPC’s) maxim, is the ambition to bring communities together and transform underserved neighborhoods into thriving, vibrant communities. CPC embraced both an abstract branding approach and an identity reinforcement approach to internal branding that focused on literal, mission-centric messaging.

Tailored into the experience of their new space are design elements of modest materials such as tin roofing, exposed brick, industrial blackened steel, concrete floors, and reclaimed wood; symbolic of that which would be found during the restoration of the neighborhood communities CPC has supported. Distraction branding encapsulates the offices and boardrooms, indicating the years and names of the local communities CPC has served; with corporate and digital signage providing a consistent message throughout and always leading back to CPC’s story and heritage.

With a long and respectful history serving underserved communities, CPC focused its branding on the idea to be a ‘united front for one mission.’ Their physical environment is open, collaborative and flexible, enabling the needs of their united team.

Rooted in your DNA.

Interior branding is more than a lobby with logo signage; successful branding tailors every social experience with a blend of physical design elements that define the strength of your corporate DNA.

Think of the workplace as an extension of your organization’s culture and brand identity; through the combined use of design elements such as color, signage, design finishes, ambiance and space utilization you can create a powerful experience from the moment you walk through the door.

For our private construction client established over 100 years ago, we worked to incorporate elements of the construction industry into their headquarters giving the space a raw, edgy aesthetic while representing their brand.

With a long-standing history within the construction world, our client used branding to highlight how they got to where they are, through teamwork, togetherness and community. As you enter the space, you immediately experience the roots of this organization with an open and inviting reception area leading the way toward the centralized communal area, filled with ample natural lighting, giving you a non-physical sense of warmth and community without fully realizing it.

As you journey through this environment, physical elements of the construction industry are incorporated through custom graphics and physical equipment. At the center of the centralized cafe, you will find an original backhoe transformed into a piece of art that encapsulates the history of the brand. The communal area is the center for engagement; with its open kitchen and multiple seating areas, employees can really feel a sense of togetherness in this space.

Aside from structures, visual graphics are found throughout the space, amplifying the energy and core values of this organization, “if we do it together, we succeed together.

Live the Brand.

According to a recent  Steelcase article, the future of the workplace is a location that attracts employees who want to be there. Whether the workplace facilitates productivity, promotes social interactions or simply makes you happy to be there, humanizing and personifying the corporate brand can give a competitive edge in retaining talent, stimulating productivity and increasing overall workplace wellness. The goal of interior branding is to use physical space as a message board and a palette that embodies organizational culture.

If there is one value to be drawn by the current pandemic, it’s the renewed and heightened sense of community that has brought businesses and people closer together. The unique combination of people and place, creating a shared set of values and purpose, should never be overlooked. In the same way that businesses are often built on the bedrock of the communities they were designed to serve, good design should reflect this connection inside and out, thereby rooting that culture and community into the very fabric of the building.