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The branded environment and related ideasOver the years, experiential and sensory characteristics have become increasingly important ways that companies define themselves and brand their products. In 1998, a seminal essay appeared in the Harvard Business Review that introduced the term experience economy. Essentially the authors argued that we were transitioning into a new economy that followed the agrarian, industrial, and service economies. In this new economy, people would be increasingly paying for the memory that the company creates rather than simply for the product or service itself.
While the notion of transitioning into a new form of economy is a high-level idea, clearly every business wants to impact people psychologically and emotionally – whether with advertising or even just generating a strong reaction to competence and skill. Design is one opportunity to captivate people and spread your message.
What about the physical space? The idea of crafting a workspace or any business environment that best represents your brand can be considered by looking at a few of the concepts of design theory. First, think about a visual brand language. That’s specifically the visual characteristics of your brand, the visual experience. That’s one factor involved.
In terms of the overall physical effect on a customer – stored in the mind as a visual image – that is considered sensory marketing. Sensory marketing really shows the sophistication of marketing theory. “[F]irms should apply sensorial strategies and three explanatory levels within an SM [sensory marketing] model,” argued a 2011 article in the European Business Review. “It allows firms through means as sensors, sensations, and sensory expressions to differentiate and position a brand in the human mind as image.”
Finally, there’s the notion of a branded environment, which is of most interest to our organization since it has a direct application to interior design and space planning. By branding a physical space, companies can apply their brand in the real world directly, as a part of the human experience.
How to extend brand identity via interior designWant to brand your environment? Here are a couple tips:
- 1. Communicate who you are.
The layout of your office, its furnishings, and other design elements shouldn’t just be designed for productivity, according to John Edson in Co.Design. Rather, “[t]his is an important chance to put your brand into three-dimensions,” says Edson, “to surround yourselves with personality and character, to create some theater for your prospective employees and partners.”
- 2. Further establish your values.
A branded environment isn’t just a showcase for customers and employees. It’s also a manner in which you can better inject your values into workflow and the general surroundings. For instance, if sharing and collaboration are critical to who you are as an organization, you may want to consider an open floor plan with private areas for individual focused work.