How do brands retain a consistent identity across Europe?
No matter where we are in the world, as consumers, we instantly recognise the ‘golden arches’ of McDonalds, distinctive Nike ‘tick’, and the green Starbucks icon – but what about the branding of corporate HQs and cross-European office spaces?
When it comes to upholding a brand’s identity and values across countries and continents, it’s important not only to maintain a consistent style and colour palette – but to ensure the soul of the space communicates an organisation’s ethos too. Agilité Solutions’ new design consultant, Lucia Prado, takes a closer look.
My role as an interior designer is to bring a client’s space to life. But it isn’t simply about choosing the right fixtures, fittings, furniture and finishes in order to make a project a successful one. Often it’s about communicating the principles of a company to visitors, from the moment they walk through the door.
While the events of the past 12 months have undoubtedly brought company culture into sharp focus, for many businesses, it’s nothing new. Putting colleagues front-and-centre in terms of workplace design should, arguably, be integral to any organisational strategy.
That’s why, I work through four stages when planning a new workspace for a client – be it to aid with the expansion across Europe via a completely new office space, or the refurbishment of an existing footprint.
1. Start with the company culture
This is easiest explained via high-street examples. Take brands such as Five Guys, Fred Perry, Lush, Gap, or Apple. We, as consumers, know what these retailers ‘stand for’, and the ‘vibe’ they give to customers.
For such an attitude to be genuine though, it needs to be lived and breathed by all who work there – whether in a customer-facing role, or in the head office. Therefore, it’s important to understand what the client wants to be known for, what truly matters to them, and where attitudes may need to be altered, during the design phase.
If you’re working on the international expansion of a global retailer, for example, taking care of pop-up shops, flagship stores, and a head office, it’s important to remember those ‘back at base’ when considering the design, functionality, and personality of the plans.
2. Create a general mood board
This allows you to determine the look and feel of the space you have – but without too much detail in terms of the project specifics. Look to include examples of similar organisations and spaces in a bid to be inspirational.
At this stage, it’s important not to get weighed down by project specifics, but focus instead on the creation of ideas which reflect the values of the organisation, perhaps with the help of a third-party specialist, such as an architect.
3. Develop your materials index
Once your mood board is complete, you can start to compile a materials index. For this, it’s important to partner with brands that are able to provide worldwide support and truly understand all the markets your company is expanding into.
With so many options around flooring, furniture, lighting, technical elements, and finishes, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, particularly when deciding around the minutiae of a project. So, finding the right partner is key.
4. Leave final details to be customised on site
Linked to the above, when it comes to localisation, no one knows the culture better than specialists ‘on the ground’. To put it into a real-world example, you may find that your favourite cookies are sold in supermarkets across the world but will taste slightly different depending on what country you’re in – as a result of the differing culinary preferences between nations.
The same principle should apply to office design. While it might be important to have breakout and creative spaces, an inspirational lobby, green space and a library, it’s often the case that the final design is modified in order to adapt and best respond to the local market.
After all, having satisfied end-users is the ultimate measure of success.
To find out how we could help bring your brand to life across Europe, contact us.