You only have one chance to make a good first impression. It may sound cliché, but it’s true nonetheless, and that chance can be used up in less than seven seconds. So just like designing the homepage of your website, the entrance of your place of business needs to make a memorable and positive impression. The first thing a new client or potential customer perceives as they enter your office or shop will set the tone for any following interaction. Think of the entryway of your business as a bridge from the outside into the world of your brand. When considering the design of your premises, you should pay special attention to the entrance whether it be a business reception, lobby or shopfront. From floor to ceiling, your design should play to your visitors’ senses and emotions and leave a lasting impression directed by you. This impact isn’t expressed merely through high-end fit outs and eye-catching design, it’s expressed on a deeper level. Your office or retail space is the physical embodiment of your brand.


“First impression is a gateway to brand experience,” says design director of Collective Made Isao Takezawa. “If you want to create an experience that leaves an impression, you have to capture people’s attention right from the beginning.” A reception, lobby or storefront will be the first point of contact for clients and customers, as well as your employees. Research published in the “Impact of Office Design on Business Performance” by the British Council for Offices shows that workplace environment accounts for as much as 25% of job satisfaction, and can affect performance by as much as 5% for individuals and 11% for teams. Client, customer and employee opinions are more influential than ever. While you can’t control these perceptions, you can help make experiences positive by communicating your brand message effectively through environment.

You have the who (your clients, customers and employees), the what (your company) and where (your office or retail space), and you’ll figure out your when (contact us here), but what about the why and how of branding and using your business space as a medium to convey your message?

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“When designing a spatial experience, the most important thing is to understand precisely why you need to create the space in the first place,” Takezawa explains. “It often helps to ask what the personality of the space should be to fulfil the needs of the people that interact with it.” You can write, discuss, tell stories and advertise, but when it comes down to it, nothing stands up to the physical experience someone has within a space. And this experience is sure to affect results.


You want your space to of course show that “work gets done here”, but you also want to ensure this space sends your message. “Space is one of the variables that goes into creating a customer’s experience of a brand,” explains Tracy Brower of Herman Miller. “When that experience, in all its forms, is positive, the customer perceives the organisation’s products or services to have quality.” She continues that in turn, this leads customers or potential clients to continue bringing their business to you.


  1. Define Your Goals
    “Clear intention behind every design decision leads to a clear and easy to understand user- friendly space,” says Takezawa. “Only after clearly understanding the definiteness of purpose, should you start to think about how people will interact with it. Manipulate different elements in the space to achieve your brand goals. This is when you begin to consider layout, materials and finishes, branding elements (logos and colours), furniture, lighting, etc. Every decision made during this design process needs to address certain needs in order to fulfil the goal.”
  2. The Goals in Action
    Take Apple’s new San Francisco shop for example. When Apple opened the new shopfront earlier this year, the company looked to connect with the city and its inhabitants. “We have a deep commitment to the cities we work in, and are aware of the importance that architecture plays in the community,” chief design officer Jony Ive said in a statement, reported The Verge. “It all starts with the storefront — taking transparency to a whole new level — where the building blends the inside and the outside, breaking down barriers and making it more egalitarian and accessible.”
  3. Create Perceived Value
    The building positioned itself as an extension of the city, lining up each window and angle with cracks in the sidewalk, and “at the press of a button, the doors can separate and turn the Apple Store into an open-faced mall of sorts,” explained The Verge. This new space speaks to Apple’s approach to commerce and how the company wants its brand to connect with all who enter the store. “We think of this as our largest product,” says Apple’s senior VP of retail Angela Ahrendts. This is the first point of interaction between customers and the brand’s products and services. It’s here where your brand’s perceived value is born.
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When looking into the design of your business, make sure you’re using the space as a medium for your message. Improve experiences and effectively deliver your business values through branded design, and in turn you may see an increase in your company’s perceived value. Your reception, lobby or shopfront has a large impact, and it’s just the beginning of your brand story.

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