How Space defines Brand

Space planning



reating space to support brand and culture is one of the hottest issues for everyone who plans, designs, or manages workspaces. This is according to Linda Trim, director of workspace specialists Giant Leap. spoke to Linda about how a company’s culture, values, work practices and processes are all factors that bring its mission to life. Culture is lived in a space and employees’ behaviours ultimately define the brand.

“Companies spend a lot of time developing what the brand should be and working to differentiate it in the market. In turn, the culture of your organisation must be all about how to make that brand a part of the way you do things. Without that, your carefully developed brand will remain just a concept and never a reality,” explains Trim.


Steps to branding culture – Space planning

Start inside first, at ‘home’. Understand the essence of your company, its mission, culture, brand, people, products, etc. Understand the behaviours needed to ensure that employees support the brand and culture. Only then can a space be designed to support those desired behaviours. Engaging all levels of the organization in the planning process creates a better overall solution and builds company-wide support for new space, culture, and behaviours. Think multi-layered. A brand is a multitude of different customer communications and experiences. Space should be similarly multi-layered. Using corporate colours, logos and product imagery and messaging is just a beginning. Drive culture and brand behaviour through adjacencies, traffic flow, different work settings and by paying close attention to the products and materials used in the workplace. For example, a company committed to sustainability will want to consider energy-saving lighting, low VOC materials, etc. Employ symbols and rituals. Product displays are important. However, what other artifacts and traditions can help inspire people to build the brand and culture? Wilson Sports Products employees work in a sports arena-style office, not just as a marketing statement but also as a symbol of their culture and ideals. Express the company’s cultural tenets in the symbols, artifacts and rituals to help make the space a true representation of it. Look long-term. Understand that a down economy does not negate the need or the ability for any company to use space to further brand and culture. Everyone has constraints with financial realities and space. That does not mean your space can’t contribute to the solution. There are ways to push collaboration, trust, the generation of new ideas, knowledge sharing and so on, with space.


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Companies that have used their brand to live their culture include:

  • Vodafone designed a space for its Amsterdam headquarters that personifies the wireless work style its products are designed to provide. The workspace has no assigned desks or private offices, but plenty of space that encourages mobile workers to rub shoulders in collaboration.
  • Royal Caribbean, the worldwide cruise line, opened a call centre in Oregon that, from the outside, looks like a ship ready to sail and on the inside, feels like an aloha shirt. Unlike call centres laid out as a maze of cubicles, this one’s as bright, colourful and nearly as open as a cruise ship. Google’s headquarters offices are like its homepage: A colourful, bright, welcoming, fun place to work.

Every workspace tells the story of a company. Enter a space and you immediately get an instinctive sense about what goes on there. The mood, the energy level, even the management style is palpable. Space must answer the questions: What does the company do? How does it operate? What is this company all about?