Pros and Cons of Riding the Coattails of Big Brand Coworking

Pros and cons of branding in coworking spaces

Does it benefit a small business to ride the coattails of a “highly branded” coworking space (think WeWork or Impact Hub) to boost your own brand?

Or is it better to organically build your own brand inside the walls of a more traditional serviced office, with a little less hype?

When it comes to dissecting the coworking space industry, it seems everyone is getting in the game. The latest analysis comes from a Huffington Post article that takes a look at what they term the “heavily promoted” branded coworking spaces versus those centers which take a low profile approach, often with no signage at all.

We checked in on their “pros and cons” for both styles of spaces. We’ve paraphrased them below. You can read the full article to get all the details.

  • Pro: The “Hip” factor. Coworking spaces such as WeWork carry with it a desirable brand. Start-ups especially are out to get any leg up they can. Riding the coattails of a business that has already established strong name recognition can help.
  • Con: Zero “Stand Out” power. It may be harder for a business to establish their own brand. Brand recognition cuts two ways. Does a small business what people saying “Ah, they’re in the WeWork office, can’t remember their name.” While that may not be a factor initially, it could muddy up their own efforts to establish a strong brand later on.
  • Pro: They have a modern aesthetic that reflects the latest trends in office design. Because many coworking spaces are newly established, the majority offer open floor plans, creative wall treatments and trendy furniture that can help with employee recruitment.
  • Con: Lack of Privacy. OT has covered this “con” several times. Many coworking space operators are taking a second look at those wide open floor plans and making alterations to provide options for privacy. While the openness provides more opportunity for collaboration, the lack of walls can send tenants, craving some privacy, running to any dark corner they can find. Not a good way to grow a business.
  • Pro: Networking and Social Life: Where else can you be writing up a business plan one moment and grabbing a cold one from a kegerator the next? Appealing, especially to millennials, is the camaraderie between entrepreneurs and the real networking that occurs when people get together and break down barriers. Being able to top off your day with a social gathering right on the floor has its benefits and cements relationships.
  • Con: Distraction, distraction, distraction. Wait, are we here to work or what? The coolness of the collaborative environment can distract even the most motivated worker. How can you tune out the ping pong match finals going on 20 feet away? When someone decides it’s time to knock off and play, who can resist? Highly focused people can tune these distractions out. But, for the rest?

What do you think? Can coworking spaces be constructed to provide the best of both worlds? How much promotional capital does a label like WeWork provide?

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Understanding the pros and cons is important for owners and operators who want to maximize their appeal and viability. Whether they choose to throw out a large net to attract everyone, or focus on a smaller demographic slice may determine how successful they are in the long run.

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