Internal Branding and the Design of Workplaces
A study of the relationship between branding and the design of human environments is long overdue. This paper draws on architecture, psychology, behavioral studies, management and marketing strategies to examine the notion that branding could actually direct a shift of attention from architecture as a subject of nice coffee-table book photographs to buildings as objects of use and experience. Corporations are extending their branding efforts from external audiences (customers, clients and competitors) to internal audiences (employees). Academic research on architectural design does not yet make specific reference to branding, nor internal branding in particular, although the latter receives increasing traction within marketing. In fact, it is likely that internal branding is, or will be, more influential on office building design than externally oriented corporate branding, an idea overlooked by most architectural commentators in this field.
This is especially curious given that people receive part of their personal identity from their daily surroundings, making the built environment an obvious target for internal branding. It is obvious that buildings have a significant role in internal branding, yet there is a gap in the literature on how to trace this effect. There is a threat that assumptions from marketing research about the workplace will begin to have a greater impact on the designed environment, but without having any architecturally oriented studies to substantiate these assumptions. Focusing on the workplace as one type of branded environment, this paper aims to close some of the gaps between marketing and architectural design. The paper finds that considering internal branding can lead to architectural innovation and exploration that responds with greater sensitivity and care towards the end users.
Keywords: Internal Branding, Built Environment, Personal Identity, Architectural Design, Branding, Workplaces
PhD Candidate, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, The University of Sydney