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How Interior Designers Can Help Clients Communicate their Brand Story

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How to support interior design client's brand

They handed us white gowns to change into, leading us in without knowing what we were getting ourselves into.

We followed two half-smiling ladies down a long, dark hallway with no windows and a strong draft coming from the other side. It took us several minutes to arrive at a different room which immediately felt like an abandoned underground Roman bathhouse.

They led us through two larger doors to a fluorescently lit white interior and a single table, requesting me to strip down entirely as my friend was swept away to a room out of sight. I glanced over at her as she walked out, both with peculiar expressions on our faces.

I felt so cold and vulnerable. Looking around me, the only thing I could make out around the blaring lighting was cinder block walls and a warehouse floor.

“How did I get here? Kelsey just said she had a surprise for me but did she have ulterior motives?”

The light above me flickered as a powerful, tall-statured woman named Olga slid back the white curtain. She was dressed in what seemed like a butcher apron. Pushing a black cart, she introduced herself first, then a man dressed in all black behind her as an assistant for the procedure.

Shivering on the table, Olga goes over to a large vat on the left side of the room and draws out a steaming bucket. She quietly approaches the table pouring the liquid over my naked body without saying a word. Next, she goes over to her cart and grabs a bottle of soap, beginning to lather my body, finished with another hot bucket. They both step around the curtain for what seemed like hours.

I kept hearing the voices of other people but not seeing any the entire time I lay there.

I was having severe feelings of being in a horror film taking place in a slaughterhouse.

A vivid picture to muster up, but emotions are often uncontrollable.

“Was this it? Will I ever come down off this table?”

Olga comes back in with a new ‘assistant’ and rolls me over with my eyes blinded once again. I notice her holding two jars without labels.

“Which one?” she asks in a gruesome voice.

“Lavender or mint scrub for your treatment today, ma’am?” she follows after seeing the frightened look on my face.

At that moment, I knew where I was. All the confusion up to this point was lifted. I realized there was a lot of work to be done.

I was lying there in a luxury day spa whose brand thoroughly checks out through their online appearance. But, the moment I enter the establishment doors, I began to wonder if I had a massage appointment or a taxidermy one.

This brand completely missed the mark while still expecting to cater to a high-paying clientele of prestige. The reality of it is, a company cannot have both.

From head to toe, everything about the way your brand is perceived matters.

A company’s brand is what makes them unique and sets them apart from its competitors. Brands create an exceptional experience that awakens distinct emotions within customers. For this reason, it is essential to reinforce the company’s culture for existing and prospective customers throughout the entirety of their interior space.

Making adequate use of every design element. Extending the brand into the company’s interior commercial space helps their customers get a snapshot of what makes you unique.

Showing a congruent commitment to brand morale at every touchpoint will be the framework to base the style on. The organization’s identity should be seamlessly incorporated into its interior and exterior design and demonstrate the embodiment of corporate philosophies. This starts by staying consistent with branding style from the entrance to employee bathrooms. The company’s brand is its identity in the business world.

During programming, interviewing your client will help you yield the answers you need to capture your client’s brand throughout their new space. These questions will help you get started in the right direction.

  • What is the overall goal for this space?
  • Will clients spend minutes, hours, days, or weeks in the space?
  • What is the primary age of your clients and your employees? Remember, you are designing for both the client and the employees.
  • What age group are they seeking to target? This may be different than the current clientele.
  • When a potential customer or new hire enters the space, what is the expected feeling? Inspiration? Curiosity? Happiness? Comfort?
  • Is the company more professional or casual?
  • Is the business creative or traditional?

Some clients will have a branding strategy available to help you get a clear idea of their brand direction. While others may not have a brand strategy or guidelines available.

This puts you at a disadvantage because you now need to determine it through interviews and research.

The brand’s space should be used as a gallery for company expression. Through your design, you are sharing your client’s brand story.

How We Bring Life to a Brand Through Design.

A brand is expressed through various design elements. Start by evaluating the logo and determining related elements. Is the logo created with straight lines or curved lines? This can help determine the lines within furniture or wall treatment. If the logo is simple and modern, you want to use clean lines throughout the design. But, if the logo has curves, be sure to bring curved lines into your design.

Now, look at colors. What are the primary brand colors the company uses? Be sure to use those colors, but also find coordinating colors that will accentuate the overall feel and function of the space. For instance, if they use blue throughout their website and marketing materials, look for paint and fabrics that accentuate the blue, but also look good with the blue color.

Here is a warning though, if the client’s brand is deep color be careful not to create a dark space as this can often feel heavy to the customer or employees. Use dark color sparingly through patterns and textures rather than solid colors.

Next, spend a few minutes in their current space talking with employees. Watch how clients interact with employees or how employees interact with one another. Observe how different spaces are used. Ask employees how those spaces work for them and how they could be better.

Branding isn’t just visual, it is also how someone feels while interacting. Every process that a business goes through is purely about customer experience from exposition to resolution. This is a unique opportunity to sculpt an amazing user experience. Enter a space offers something unique that cannot be felt online. Strive to leave a lasting impression on visiting customers.

Employees are also impacted by the space. If employees seem inefficient, there is probably a valid reason. Identify how you can use design to not only improve the overall mood but also improve efficiencies. This should all tie back to the client’s brand and how people perceive it

Furthermore, some designers miss the importance of working with a client’s marketing team. The marketing team can be an enormous source of information and even ideas.

Don’t discount them because they aren’t interior designers, they are still creative people who know their company.

Additionally, collaborate as early as possible with all parties: architects, engineers, vendors, and specialty designers to ensure you are all keeping within the overall brand. Keeping every point of contact in the loop throughout the entire process creates stronger projects with fewer interruptions.

The design team and the organization need to thoroughly establish what values and principles the company is based on. A clear, concise message of what an organization values and represents will need to be devised. This will bring forth a solid foundation for where to begin in creating the perfect customer experience. The personality of that brand should be presented everywhere and in everything.

Set a budget with the design team that accurately matches the company mission and desired outcome. Interior design costs can vary widely, so clearly define the needs and wants of the company with all parties. Check back with each point of contact periodically to stay on track as a team.

The Power of Design on Employees

These days, companies are finding it nearly impossible to attract and retain quality personnel. Statistics show that when a person is satisfied with their work environment, they are seven times more likely to perform better than someone who works in an undesired space. This directly leads to vigorous profit growth, greater employee morale, and a peaceful place for ALL.

Too many businesses are cut-throat, high-pressure cultures that drive their financial success. What they fail to understand is that performance is directly attributed to the work environment, not necessarily skill or experience level. Consider the needs of the employees first. Regardless of what furniture or colors the company uses, their staff will create the true aura for this inclusive habitat. They will be the ultimate creators of color within that establishment.

Four viewing groups need to share this special place; employees, new hires, clients, and prospective clients. Therefore, every aspect needs to cater to these four groups. This will take some thorough, out-of-the-box thinking and research with no hasty decisions.

It should be a careful balance created strategically through interior design planning, and execution.

The Power Of Color

After discovering the overall company spirit, interior designers can utilize color psychology to craft a phenomenal branding melody. Especially in areas of high yearly rain or snowfall, selecting uplifting hues that compensate for gloomy tones outside is so important. Use properly calculated lighting and colors to help ease any prior negative emotions.

In nature, all surroundings evoke feelings inside of us. Our brains are designed to be stimulated in precise ways when stepping into new environmental hues. Follow this guide to help in your preparation.

Blue evokes a calm, soothing, tranquil feeling as if sitting beside the sea.

Bright shades like bold yellow, orange and red have the power to energize and stimulate the appetite at times.

Neutral tones like gray and cream offer grounding, soothing emotions - but can veer into a depressing territory if not accented with cheerful tones.

Greens are perceived as earthy, peaceful, and healthy and blend well with oranges and violets.

Coral arouses the serenity of the beach and vacation but can be easily perceived as ‘dated’ if not appropriately used.

Purple is rich, elegant, and mysterious but lightens it up and you create a soothing hue of lavender.

Integrate Subtle Accents

They make all the difference. Rather than covering every inch of the wall with a fiery color like orange or yellow, liven up your room with a splash of orange couch pillows.

Use bold not overbearing gestures drizzled throughout the space. Do not rely so heavily on the logo to tie all the spaces together. This is seen as a cheap and overused gimmick. Little snippets of words and phrases that help to define the brand should be scattered around. Not making them the main event but used as a backup singer for the ensemble.

Execute and Refine

Once all necessary items are purchased and ready to assemble, start arranging them in the company space accordingly. Place everything and check back to your floor plan.

  • Does everything match up as planned according to the floor plan and mood board?
  • Does everything go together?
  • Do we need to add or eliminate anything?
  • Is the space continuing to tell the brand story?
  • Can you use the same words to describe the space as you do the brand?

If the answer is yes, and there is still room in the budget, start adding further accents to continue the brand story such as rugs, décor, choice of pillows, etc. Keep in mind that less is more, so try not to crowd it out fully.

Now enjoy the accomplished feeling, the story can now be opened.

Conclusion

Branding is a pivotal element for a business and does not end once the logo and business cards are finished and the website is live. Branded interior design is a critical tool to strengthen your business, reinforce your customer bond, and improve the overall experience. Throughout every step in the branding process, the company must ask itself “What do I want my customers and employees to feel?”

The environmental design space is a significant element of the brand experience. Interior design is a tool to change the way people feel about the brand when they step through the door. So use this opportunity to beautifully communicate a detailed message about the company behind it.

If you want to learn more about branding, check out our “Building a Brand Beyond Logos: How Interior Designers Can Use Branding” online course. In this one-hour course where you will learn basic branding principles, the impact of brand on buying decisions, the importance of building a brand, and identifying a brand strategy to help grow your interior design business.

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