Over the past decades, I’m sure I’ve worked with every medium there is to communicate a marketing message: newspaper, trade magazines, TV, outdoor, internet, in-branch, P.O.P., busses, tops of cabs, tradeshows, fly-overs, advanced IP audience targeting and sandwich-boards.  Oh—then there was that tattoo thing.

But the one medium I haven’t paid enough attention to is environments. Specifically, the branding you walk around inside of.  For all the law firms and accounting firms I’ve done, it just didn’t come up top-of-mind.  Sorry—I’ll do better next time.

It used to be that the owner of a professional services firm could earn a reasonable living by interacting and communicating on a purely transactional basis.  The firm had a service to sell, someone needed it, a sale was made.  But brick and mortar companies today that compete on a strictly transactional basis are learning that winter is coming.  Smart companies are realizing that they must compete on the strength of their reputation and their brand.

All good marketers know the need to have a disciplined consistency to all of its communications.  Whether it’s print, direct mail, outdoor, broadcast, or signage, for a message to resonate, it has to be consistent across all mediums… not only in the messaging, but also in the look.

Certainly, franchise owners of donut shops and quick service restaurants understand the need for a branded look to their stores.  But to offices for law firms, staffing companies or corporate headquarters, the concept of branded aesthetics can fly over their heads and seem unimportant.  They don’t think about it.  That’s because they leave that aspect of their marketing and communications programs to their ad agencies, which typically are not also interior designers.  Big leather chesterfield chairs say you charge a lot.  They don’t say why you’re better or different.

It’s not enough that a lobby or corporate board room looks impressive.  The look that a corporation displays to its market needs to sell.  It needs to be integrated into an overall mar-com program.  A company or corporate HQ could be the place that closes the deal.  And the  offices shouldn’t look like an ad, but they should look like somebody paid attention to the  style guide.  Somebody did bother to do a style guide—right?