Buckminster Fuller, the legendary American architect, once said ‘Integrity is the essence of everything successful’. He couldn’t have been more right – and when it comes to the brand image of a startup, his words resonate particularly poignantly. Building an integral and authentic brand should be a priority for any small company – and the workspace is a big part of this.
Why is the workspace important for branding?
When clients, customer, and even employees, spend time in your workspace, the layout, design and aesthetic of the office gives them an impression. It says a lot about the culture of your business, and about how you and your staff work together.
Your workspace gives clients and customers that all-important first impression about your startup – it gives them an almost ‘fly on the wall’ experience of your working culture. Whether you’re an established startup, or in your early stages with few staff, this first impression is vital.
Even if the nature of your work means clients never need to come to your office, choosing the right workspace for your brand is important.
Your office space has a massive impact on your employees – who are arguably the most integral part of your brand development. Everything you output and create, and every service you provide, will derive from your staff in one form or another.
A workspace that engages employees, and helps them feel allied with your brand and profile, will enable them to get behind your mission statement.
Practicalities need to come first
First and foremost, the workplace you choose needs to be viable from a practical point of view. You’ll need to consider price (and bear in mind any unexpected costs), location (will both you and your employees be able to commute there easily?), and office size.
Create a checklist when you’re shortlisting possibilities, and make sure any potential locations tick all of these boxes before thinking about brand image. If you’re still in the very early stages of your growth, you might need to consider renting space in an open hub, or shared working environment – if this is the case, you may have to compromise slightly on how much autonomy you’ll have on office design.
Choosing the right space
It’s not surprising that when we think of the office spaces of young tech companies, we tend to picture futuristic interiors and building designs – sharp angles, chrome, and elaborate glass fixtures spring to mind.
Many companies are even investing in things like cutting-edge smart-building technology, so that from the moment a client walks in, they get a sense of what the company represents.
Think about the nature of your startup, and where it might ‘seem at home’. When choosing a building, office, or location, keep this in mind and avoid workspaces that could clash with your ethos aesthetically.
Bear in mind not only how the space itself looks and feels, but the street and neighbourhood too – if you’re a security firm, for instance, a neighbourhood with broken windows and graffiti might give clients the wrong impression.
The slightly more enjoyable part of branding your workspace is choosing your interior design. You should be sensible with spending – don’t invest in expensive things you simply don’t need – but don’t feel restricted to buying dull, purely practical equipment that doesn’t add anything to your space.
Think about colour schemes, and choose furnishings that are in line with your brand aesthetic. You could be creative, and consider telling the story of your startup in your workspace – maybe with a framed copy of a testimonial from an early client, or photos of your first days.
The layout of your workspace plays a big part in your branding. The brand of your startup is much more than just aesthetic design; it derives from you and your staff’s personality, and culture. Office layout can make or break this.
If you run a creative, ideas-sharing startup, then an open plan design would likely suit you. Similarly, if you work individually or in small teams, designating specific spaces for focussed solo or team-based work might be a good idea. This doesn’t mean you need to succumb to clichés; you could explore something like colour-coded zones instead of drab cubicles.
These things might seem like purely practical considerations, but a positive office layout not only boosts productivity, but morale too, and it helps your staff rally behind your company ethos – strengthening your brand far more than a logo on a coffee mug.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, said that ‘Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room’. He makes a good point – your brand is only in your hands to a certain extent, but the workplace provides a fantastic opportunity for you to develop it in the way you want.
Whatever people might say when you’re not in the room, make sure that when it’s your room they’re in, your workspace is saying something to them.
This post was written by Cantifix, a London-based architectural glazing firm specialising in innovative glass solutions and structural glazing designs.