Reflecting the brand essence
Colors also have the powerful ability to connect people to an organizational brand or vision through ideas, feelings, and associations. Many companies and organizations will collectively spend billions in ensuring that this is achieved with the public, but often forget to look inward and nurture the brand ambassadorship of their employees, using the built environment as a tool. A branded environment is a physical space that visually reflects the essence of the organization or company through features such as experiential graphic design. Reflecting the brand can be a great opportunity to find what is unique and engaging about the work you do, and there are ways to incorporate this through patterns, textiles, and — importantly — color.
An obvious strategy may be to use the primary brand colors or even just one color, but this conservative approach can be too simple, and fail to provide meaning for employees. Many leading companies are developing sophisticated palettes and understanding that it is not just one color, but the combination of colors that makes a unique environment. Every company should have brand guidelines that include a set of primary and secondary colors, finding a unique combination that further distinguishes the brand and evokes the intended emotional associations from employees. If you can achieve this while also being ahead of the curve of color trends, this will keep the environment fresh and differentiated.
For Sobeys, we used color in a number of ways, always ensuring we reflected the brand and their corporate commitment to better, fresher food. Using hues inspired by this corporate vision, we used different colors to inform people where they were in the space, by giving each floor its own unique color, and also utilizing a color gradation to signal the north (lighter shade) and south (darker shade) of the building. We also brought the essence of this idea into the space by using abstract representations of fruits in two ways. First we used a close-cropped form of fruits and vegetables — from a distance the observer just sees color, but coming closer they recognize what is being displayed. The second way was to use white outlined drawings of the fruits and vegetables with a boldly colored background that reflected the richness and vibrancy of the grocery produce. This technique generates interest and excitement from passersby and connects them to the brand in an intuitive, emotional, and subtle way.
Color is deeply ingrained in our lives, and affects our experience of the world greatly. What was once merely a stylistic choice is now used as a tool to connect employees to the organizational brand, by helping them understand who they work for and why. Color can also improve one’s experience at work, positively affecting their concentration, stress levels, and mood. To achieve these objectives, it is important to understand how different colors interact with each other and also with other elements such as lighting, textiles and patterns. For these reasons, we should be sensitive to all aspects of color, using it to positively affect the workplace and its everyday users.