March 22, 2018

Making Your Space Embody Your Brand

I’ve worked at Columbus Metropolitan Library for nearly seven years. In all that time our renovations have been small and minor. No new buildings; no major overhauls. Now the time has changed. With passage of our levy and a new strategic plan, we are thoughtfully considering how our space defines our brand as we look at new construction and major renovation. Pretty much all the old assumptions are being challenged and reexamined.

My focus group of one, my husband, had this to say when I was recounting a conversation around new circulation desks: ” circulation desks? are you kidding? ” — his point being,  including the words “circulation desk” is old school in and of itself.

So we are wresting with how does space define a brand? We are doing some deep work in this area, and so it is with comfort that I see how other world-class brands are challenging themselves in the same way.

McDonald’s for example. Check out this article in USA Today, about McDonald’s brand revamp as seen in their buildings. Here’s some important take-aways:

  • For the next generation of McDonald’s customers, the notion of what a McDonald’s restaurant looks like inside and out could be turned on its head.
  • “McDonald’s has to change with the times,” says Jim Carras, senior vice president of domestic restaurant development for the giant chain. “And we have to do so faster than we ever have before.”
  • McDonald’s isn’t just doing this to make customers cozy. It’s doing it …to begin cementing a new image of McDonald’s in the minds of consumers.
  • “We’re not trying to be Apple,” he says. “But we can be inspired by them. When you’re inside an Apple Store, you almost feel like you’re inside an iPad — and you want to stay there. We want people to walk into McDonald’s and have the same feeling.”

Really? McDonald’s as an Apple store? But if you read the article you’ll understand the business and branding strategy behind this potentially risky move. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen the new stores and they are a big improvement.

Insert the word library in all the statements quoted above and you quickly understand the importance of aligning your space with your brand and what is at stake.

Alison Circle About Alison Circle

Alison Circle is director of marketing communications for Columbus Metropolitan Library. Previously she was an Account Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, a global branding agency, and her primary client was Target Stores. Prior to that she was the National Marketing Director for Minnesota Public Radio and "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor." She has advanced degrees in English and Fine Arts, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant.