In today’s world to focus of marketeers, well actually everybody, is digital. Yet, when you build a brand you do need to look at brick-and-mortar world too. I am not talking about the need to open up shops in all malls or to have offices in every city, but it is elementary to take your physical presence into the marketing mix when you want to outperform your competitors. Especially in a world where partnerships are vital and the war on talent is very real.
I even like to go as far as to say: “What really defines the DNA of your brand the most are your buildings.” Office staff is looking to balance ‘work from home’ with office life. Vendors, partners and clients want to see ‘who’ it is they do business with.
A shop, an office, the factory are more than ‘just’ a building. It gives every company an identity and a clear defined location; a place to go. Clients, prospects and future employees need to know where you are based. If you have a building they will know, understand and appreciate who you are as a company because of that real estate. Your brand will mean something to them because of your locations(s), the decoration and style of the place, the neighbours.
I see a lot of companies rethink their office and retail situation, and rightfully so. But the visibility of your buildings to your stakeholders is often neglected in this conversation. An office is more than 'just' a collection of desks; a place where you work, collaborate and meet. It is the place where you show the world who you are; it is your stage. It is the location where clients meet your team and realize why they work with your company and where prospects fall in love with the services you have to offer.
A shop or branch is not just a set of shelves to show products, a counter to facilitate a transaction, but the fundament of the experience that consumers will engage with you brand.
The shop is the place where your staff wants to be part of a community and it is the shop in the street – high street or back ally – that people will point to when you ask them where to go.
Yes, both retail operations and companies with an office are re-assessing how much real estate they need, but if you are building or maintaining a brand then you need to keep in mind that rent is not only a line-item, but representing how your key stakeholders will see you ‘in real life’ and that is worth way more than what the landlord charges.
Richard Neve is the managing director of Cognito Amsterdam