The importance of interior branding for your office space can’t be understated, as it communicates your company ethos and vibe to clients and staff alike. It can extend beyond simply having a logo on the back wall, with furniture, colours, lighting and layout choices all saying something about what your brand stands for. What many businesses fail to consider, however, is the environmental impact this branding can have.
Public concern for environmental issues is at an all-time high, with reports of the world’s oceans now containing 150 million tons of plastic and nearly 70% of the UK population believing that climate change is a serious personal threat. With a study by Unilever reporting that a third of consumers prefer eco-friendly goods, it’s clear that businesses showing respect for the environment can have an edge over the competition.
Eco-friendly wall signage
Getting a logo or a large-format piece of artwork onto the walls is a common office branding approach, but it’s a good idea to consider the environmental impact this can have. A large image printed on non-recycled paper can be wasteful, and harmful printing inks should also be declined, with some varieties (UV-curable inks, latex inks, and others based on vegetable oils) representing much gentler ecological impact.
An environmentally conscious and cost-effective option is a tension fabric system. Instead of printing on paper, the design is printed onto a large sheet of fabric which is stretched across a lightweight aluminum frame, creating a striking edge-to-edge effect. Not only does this eliminate the need for paper and plastic waste, but the frame can be easily repurposed should you ever decide to re-brand, or replace the artwork entirely.
There is also the option to design wall artwork that doesn’t involve printing at all, and have your vision applied directly with paint. Conventional paints, however, may include unwanted chemicals such as formaldehyde, and heavy metals, so it’s important to pick an eco-alternative. Fortunately, it’s now relatively easy to get hold of environmentally friendly, non-toxic paints made from organic resin.
Finding environmentally friendly office furnishings
The style of the desks and chairs in your office will say as much about your brand as the designs on the walls, and it may be tempting to opt for expensive designer items. However, buying your furniture second-hand – or shopping for office goods made from sustainable materials (e.g. reclaimed wood, recycled plastics, and GOTS-certified fabrics) – may be a better option. Just be aware that really stylish new eco-furniture can come with a sizeable price tag.
If you’re on a budget, there are many ways to acquire good quality second-hand pieces, such as via eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist, or even Freecycle, although of course finding items appropriate for your vision will be mostly a matter of luck.
Getting greenery into your office branding
The trend for incorporating the natural world into office surroundings is in full swing, with Google building a headquarters that blurs the line between inside and outside, and Amazon constructing a base in Seattle that involves a series of connected indoor treehouses.
It’s not just an aesthetic fad, either; studies have shown that natural greenery can significantly improve productivity, with research by the Journal of Experimental Psychology finding that a work environment integrating a minimum of one green plant per square mile can increase employee productivity by 15%.
Picking plants that work with your branding message is a great way of communicating your company ethos, with some companies installing indoor grass, or green walls covered in shrubbery. There are other benefits, too, in the form of cleaner air (as plants release oxygen and absorb harmful compounds) and also sound reduction, as leafy greens can play a part in muffling ambient noise.
Giving your office the green light
Lighting can play a large role in office branding. Whether you decide to have an illuminated logo or to put strip lighting under every desk, the environmental impact of these ideas can be mitigated with low-energy LEDs. These can be more expensive to install than regular lighting, but will subsequently consume a fraction of the electricity, and will be much cheaper to run in the long term. Some businesses have also taken the extra step of installing smart lighting that switches itself off when nobody is around.
Another possibility to consider is natural lighting. If your branding already has a bright, clean look, then big windows and an abundance of interior glass could be a great way to illuminate the office and keep the electricity bills under control.
There are also health benefits for your employees, as studies show that headaches and eye strain from computers can be mitigated by up to 84% with an increase in natural light. However, it’s important to design your office carefully to avoid glare, and also to minimise the possible heating effect of glass – a sunny day might turn your work environment into a stiflingly hot greenhouse.
Natural light could also be harnessed with an installation of solar panels to power your office – this will likely be expensive at the time of the initial fitting, but can save you a lot of money later. Depending on your location, there may even be grants and incentives available (such as the Feed-In Tariff) to compensate you for your solar efforts.
Greening up the small things
An extension of your office branding might be small branded items for clients and guests (e.g. pens,c oasters, and other articles). If you’re going to make use of these items, why not ensure that they’re consistent with the green theme? You could have branded FSC wooden pencils, USB drives encased in recycled bamboo or even plantable business cards embedded with flower seeds!
Green office branding will speak volumes about your company’s commitment to the environment. An environmentally-friendly working climate is sure to impress your clients, differentiate your business from its competitors, and make your employees happy, productive and proud.