Giving Office Space Brand Recognition

tips-for-commercial-real-estate-tenants-Giving Office Space Brand Recognition

Graphics, finishes can help to express a company’s identity and culture.

When it comes to building a brand, companies are increasingly making their office spaces an important part of the equation through logos, graphics, finishes, and other elements.

Using architecture to reflect a company’s brand has historically applied more to retail spaces than offices, said Matthew Jarmel, a principal of Jarmel Kizel Architects, in Livingston. But “over the last five to eight years, corporations have started to take their brand identity and try to merge it with architecture.”

These days, companies are more inclined “to infuse a space with [their] brand rather than not,” said Dana Jenkins, principal and design director of Gensler, a Morristown-based architecture firm. “They find it really necessary to communicate who they are.”

Expressing brand identity in an office is cost-effective in a recession, because “a lot of the work is cosmetic renovation work, where you’re not really making wholesale changes,” she said.

In designing the Parsippany headquarters space for Sun Chemical Corp., the world’s largest producer of printing inks and pigments, three years ago, Gensler employed various visual elements to highlight the company’s history and products to both staff and clients.

Sun Chemical’s trademark red pigment was used on all of the entrances and transitional spaces, while other pigments and inks were incorporated throughout the facility, Jenkins said. A 15-foot timeline of the company’s 190-year history was installed in the reception area, so “there’s an educational piece right off the top of how the business got started.”

Brand identity strategies differ depending on the type of company. With consumer products companies, “it’s really easy to communicate the brand,” because the company has a tangible product, Jenkins said. But for service companies, identity is expressed more through the finishes and furniture chosen for a space, she said.

Lynn Campbell, Sun Chemical’s manager of corporate marketing, said employees get a sense of pride from the design, while customers “look at the breadth and scope of what we do. It gives people the feeling that it’s a big, solid company,” she said.

How an office space is organized also can say a lot about a company, said John Clarke, a partner at Clarke, Caton, Hintz. The Trenton-based architecture firm is designing a law office in which an open café and lounge will be located at the center of the offices; that amenity is intended to accommodate the attorneys’ long hours. “The hierarchies are pressed down so people are more equal, there’s not so much a formality,” he said.

Other companies, meanwhile, establish an identity by having a uniform look and feel to their office spaces, said Marlyn Zucosky, director of interiors at Clarke, Caton, Hintz. “A lot of clients have multiple branches, they want continuity from office to office,” she said.

Such was the case for the firm’s design of Cambridge Mercantile Group, a global payment company that relocated its U.S. headquarters to 902 Carnegie Center, in Princeton, in March. The space was set up so that the glass-enclosed executive offices and conference room are located on opposite ends, with an open trading area in the center.

“If you were to visit any other Cambridge location, whether in the U.K. or Toronto, it would have a similar look and feel,” said Leslie George, managing director for the Toronto-based firm’s U.S. operations. After moving to the Princeton firm and seeing its familiar design, “I saw a big difference in attitude and pride and work output,” George said. “It made a big difference in coming to a space like this, as opposed to a space that was just thrown together.”

This article, by Evelyn Lee, originally appeared on on 9/28/09. It is reproduced here with permission from NJBIZ.