In Person: Using your brand to inspire your office design
Many years ago, Big Duck took the National Brain Tumor Society through our brandraising process. Since then, the organization has experienced rapid growth on all levels, and has emerged as the leader in their space. Working with the National Brain Tumor Society hits home for me personally: I lost both of my parents to brain tumors. So, in addition to the work we did together, I began to volunteer personally for the organization. In 2012, I joined their board. Earlier this year, I attended a board meeting in the organization’s new offices in Newton, MA. I was immediately impressed by how the new office reflected the organization’s personality on many levels, so I asked Kristina Knight, their Chief Marketing and Community Relations Officer, to tell me more about how they did it.
How did you integrate the National Brain Tumor Society’s personality, positioning, and identity into your new office space?
Kris: We were fortunate to move into a location that was being completely overhauled, allowing us to design our new office from scratch. We wanted the space to be open, collaborative, empowering, cerebral, adaptable, and super functional. These traits are also core to how we operate as an organization, relate with our constituents, and direct our efforts through our integrated programs. The office space is also surrounded on three sides by huge windows, helping to reinforce a positive and hopeful atmosphere, which is critical to the work we do in the world of brain tumors.
In additional to the use of the space, we incorporated our three brand colors strategically in the office. When you first enter, we set up a gallery. We used our orange to reflect our energy and that we are fiercely committed to finding a cure and changing the way things are done. We also incorporated our mission statement* and images that reflect our breadth so anyone who comes into the space is immediately drawn in and feels who we are.
Our blue color is more neutral and calming, so was used to connect the split-level in the office and wrap into the kitchen, a primary gathering spot for staff. Finally, our green was applied to the far wall in the program area and clear Idea Paint was applied floor-to-ceiling over it (converting it into a giant writeable surface). We use it as an active collaboration space for exploring and growing ideas and concepts, sometimes on an hourly basis! We also incorporated white Idea Paint walls throughout the office, meeting rooms and conference rooms to help us actively engage with the space and one another. Throughout the office we enlarged our best photography, showcasing the people participating in our Walk, Race, and Ride events, research workshops, and advocacy efforts to constantly remind us of the community we serve.
It is incredibly satisfying to work every day in a space that seamlessly reflects who we are. It reinforces our core values in subtle and obvious ways, literally making us all ‘live’ the brand while we work.
Got any advice for nonprofits that want to bring their brands to life in their spaces too?
Kris: First thing I would say is don’t over do it.
If you bring your identity colors in, for instance, pick one way you want to apply them. Make it simple. Don’t get so excited you paint every wall a color or decorate the entire office in multi-color objects. Pick one thing, maybe desk lamps or event posters. Or maybe take a handful of the words that describe the organization and incorporate them in key spots in the office (lobby, meeting rooms, kitchen).
I also really like bringing the community into the space. Many folks hunkered down in the office don’t get out to interact a lot so it is important to put faces to the cause. It’s powerful to have the reminder of why we do what we do everyday.
* Mission statement: National Brain Tumor Society is fiercely committed to finding better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for people living with a brain tumor today and anyone who will be diagnosed tomorrow. This means effecting change in the system at all levels. It’s time to build on progress and transform tomorrow, today.