Every Bit Matters

Branding and Brand Recognition: More than a logo communicating the personality of the brand

Branding. Design. Two words that are tough to nail down a specific definition. We not only look at these two words as an artistic communication of a company, but also as a strategy. The preconception that “design” is visual artistic communication in its simplest form isn’t the only element that is being perused. Design is setting and planning specific goals to achieve success. The two main ingredients of branding are: Design, i.e. logo, typography, colors and Design Strategy: community, culture, brand. We must break it down to its most basic pieces in order to obtain a flow and a style that tells the audience what you’re here to accomplish. We must set the stage. In almost all cases, this begins with the logo.

The logo is designed to have recognition. It is a key identification tool that reinforces the companies image. But without the brand, the logo is almost meaningless. Most companies’ logos are not even directly related to their logo. Think about Starbucks, a half naked mermaid. A computer company that picked an apple with a bite out of it. So without this affiliated culture, the definition and recognition to the public changes the perception completely.

Then there’s font choice. Typography is a major key to the communicative goal of a company. The type should be clean and easy to read. Good type gives people a feeling of clean organization. One of the most adapted fonts is the over 50-year-old Helvetica. It is a classic sans-serif font. It changed the whole look of the NYC subway system. Linking all of this to specified colors create an entire new meaning. Colors dig into another level involving philosophy and strategy. Research has proven that certain colors and color combinations give humans subconscious feelings. (i.e. blue is an intellectual color that has positive emotions of intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness, reflection and calmness. It also has negative subconscious effects of coldness, aloofness, and lack of emotion.)

The brand is our overall definition of the business or organization. It’s what sets apart from the competitors. The stronger the brand the more enforced following it will bring to a target audience. The quality that is set is the tone for the products and services that are being provided.

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Community and culture are the last links to consider when creating a brand. Many companies don’t realize the value of a string community and culture. It is a difficult task to build this type of reinforcement. By creating emphasis on a specific style, manner, information, etc. it will create a following that goes beyond the product or service itself. It gives you a word-of-mouth advertising plan. This is by far the most credible way to gain community.

Building consistency and fluidity is the gateway to success. Having a guideline for the brand is the best way to establish this. The brand should still be flexible in that it can flirt with other ideas while still conducting its style roots. Without establishing a brand, the company will not have the same level of successful outcome compared to those that really nail down who they are. 

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Article written by Vanessa Weego for The Element Group.
Edited by Lyndsay Reese.

Technology and banking: Part 2

In the first part of this two-part series we discussed some of the current technology applications businesses are using to create an efficient and convenient digital experience for their customers, as well as, the ability of the business to gather essential information that allows for a better and more targeted line of communication with their customers. As mentioned, the information a business is able to gather about individual customers is priceless and usable in countless ways. Let’s quickly examine how grocery stores use this type of information, as the grocery industry is masterful at capitalizing on information they are able to analyze and then provide targeted incentives to customers based upon their shopping history and habits. Most of the reward programs offered by grocery stores are now driven by the same technology as the business apps being developed. Grocery stores are able to gather a tremendous amount of information about each consumer that they can track and immediately know when a customer shops, what they buy, how much they spend and if they have been absent from the store. Grocery stores are then able to send a coupon, personalized messages and invitations that speak directly to a consumer based upon their shopping behavior. Now that we’ve made our point about the importance of utilizing this type of technology we will outline six technology services that will get you on track creating a better experience for your customer and more powerful marketing and promotion capacity for your bank.

Digital Appointments:

Per previously mentioned examples of most service based businesses offering scheduling abilities from their mobile device we can offer you Digital Appointment capabilities, of which will allow customers to schedule an appointment via and app within a calendar of available times. The scheduled appointment appears on the bank computers alerting a representative to the scheduled appointment. Upon arrival, the customer checks in via the app alerting the representative that the customers is in the building. This app can be developed as simple or as robust as desired by the bank.

Creating A Digital Connection:

This function allows a customer to bank they way want while also providing the bank with a tremendous amount of information about this particular customer. The primary purpose is for customers to make notes about various questions and thoughts about their accounts or bank offered services. The bank also has the ability to make notes about the customer that can be used for future follow up, direct messaging and an overall better rapport.

Account Finder:

This function provides the customer the ability to browse various products and services offered by the bank that are targeted to them based upon how they answered a few questions. If the results of a questionnaire provide insight that a customer is interested in learning more about mortgages they will be presented with mortgage based information. The customer then has the option to download the information, email to themselves or share with someone else.  The customer can fill out any applications or documents necessary prior to arriving at the bank making the process very efficient for both parties. The bank is also able to track the items customers downloaded and is therefore able to content them to discuss in greater detail or inspire them to continue with the process. It is a tremendously powerful sales tool for a bank.

Live And Interactive Widget Wall:

A live and interactive widget wall is primarily a function proven by consumers as something they want. This is the added value ‘stuff,’ we mentioned, but it is also a great resource for interacting with your customers while also being a ‘go-to’ page for banking information and otherwise. Featured are an interactive calendar, the date and time, local weather, trivia, sports scores and potentially advertisements either from the bank or outside businesses.  Real time information about upcoming events, area web cams and social media posts and tweets being made by the bank and customers. You can post an online poll about upcoming cultural events that result in customer interaction within your brand. This function is what is referred to as the random scroll though page during idle times, but if you are able to be connecting and communicating with your customers as a result it provides and opportunity you don’t otherwise get. Keep in mind we can customize this wall to be relevant to your bank and community.

In-Branch Screens:

It is not uncommon for businesses to have flat screens featuring digital displays, but our service allows these screens to become interactive.  Consumers are able to click through a menu of options and narrow down the information to their interest. Upon finding something of interest, the consumer can download the information to their device, which is also digitally tracked by the bank. If a customer downloads information about a checking account the bank can proactively follow up with the customer with more information about checking accounts. This service is very powerful in establishing dialogues with the customer based upon items they have shown interest in knowing about.

Digital Referral Program:

Referral programs are not a new banking tactic, but offering this incentive digitally is new. In this day in age, traditional referral programs are cumbersome and appear as a chore rather than a bonus. We can offer you the ability to establish the referral program via digital applications that happen instantly. A person is much more likely to take advantage of a referral program if they can solicit to all their friends at once via social media rather than tracking others down and pitching it one at a time.  

It is our intention to outline some of the current technology apps that we, The Element Group are implementing in banks throughout the country, but is more of our intention to speak with you directly about helping you take advantage of these functions that are proving successful in creating a more efficient and fluid banking experience for your customers while allowing you the ability to be more targeted and effective in communicating with your customers.

These are six bits of technology that will transform how you and your customers do business together and as we always say, Every Bit Matters.

 

 

 

Go to Part 1 >>

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Article written by Brent Beckett for The Element Group.
Edited by Lyndsay Reese.

Color with Caleigh // Complementary Colors

We are going to talk about something that you may have learned about in elementary school, or maybe even high school. It is called the color wheel!

This may look simple or complex, but it was actually confusing to me when I was learning about it in my high school art class. Starting with the basics, you can really learn how to make your space look more cohesive, and make your brand colors really POP!

Complementary colors are located opposite to one another on the color wheel. As the term says, they complement one another. These combinations, which were derived from the red-yellow-blue model, are red and green, purple and yellow, and blue and orange. Using these combinations can make a space feel vibrant and play up the others’ intensity.

Using a high contrast with both complementary colors can produce a bold, and vibrant affect to a space in order to grab maximum attention to itself. However, using a equally high contrast of both colors can be a bit overwhelming and might be the wrong feel for a space. 

You can liven up a space, while being pleasing to the eye. There has to be a balance of the two colors to have a beautiful end palette. One color may be used a lot but with less intensity and the complementary color should be used less, but at higher intensity as an accent. Bringing in accents of the complementary color will liven up the space without making the space look distasteful. This palette will bring a soothing feel and fun energy to any space. The images below show spaces that were well-designed using complementary colors.  

Make sure to come back in a few weeks and learn about analogous colors!

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Article written by Caleigh Pollard for The Element Group.
Edited by Lyndsay Reese.

 

Technology and banking: Part 1

It is becoming common for bank tellers to inform customers of the various banking functions that can be done at the A.T.M., home computer or mobile device to allow for and offer more customer convenience.  For the most part, most of these transactions by technology consist of fundamental tasks such as making a deposit, withdrawal and balance inquiries.

Yes, it is true that most banks now offer online and mobile banking apps that allow users to accomplish some banking tasks. However, let’s compare these apps to what contemporary service companies offer their customers in ways ranging from limited assistance to total self-sufficiency.  Consider the Expedia mobile app. It is truly a full-service, do anything, from anywhere app that allows such things as booking flights, hotels, cars, airport-shuttles. You can check in, check out, buy tickets to parks, museums and tours, earn points, and make referrals while sorting all of the options by price, ratings and more.  This of course, limits, if not, eliminates the face-to-face interaction that provides greater opportunity to pitch products and services. Perhaps, there is the best of both worlds of offering the convenience of technology with personal interaction.

It is estimated there are more than 1.5 million apps available to consumers offering every service and convenience imaginable. However, at a time when consumers can schedule haircuts, a massage or dentist appointments simply and successfully via their mobile device some of the banking procedures seem a bit outdated and cumbersome.  If the tactic for an active and available teller is to encourage a customer to utilize the A.T.M. or a mobile app than the technology should over compensate for the reduced customer service and human interaction.  -Or better yet, combine the two.

It is still common for a customer to walk into a bank intending to speak with a representative and wait in a chair until their turn or an available time. Wait. What? Wait? Who waits anymore? With an app scheduling feature, a customers can walk off the street, be caped, cut and squared up at a barbershop with mobile app technology, but have to aimlessly wait at a bank for a representative, then start from the very beginning as to their purpose for being there? This is inefficient for the consumer and the bankers.  Additionally, without the banker logging a tremendous amount of information from name, email, address, and phone number, there is very little effective and controlled way of keeping a connection open between the customer and the bank. More importantly, vital information that can greatly increase the customer banker relationship by providing customized and targeted messages to customers based upon the data gathered through technology is easily lost. In addition to creating a more efficient and convenient experience via technology it is a remarkable to establish and grow a rapport with the customer that is custom to their banking wants and needs. This technology based dialogue is an added layer to the face-to-face customer service already in place and allows for ongoing communication outside of the bank. This is ultimately the power of utilizing technology to interact with your customers.

It is proven that consumers prioritize their apps in order of usage, of which, is based upon the apps that offer the most information and resources both pertaining to the app industry and general information such as time, date, weather, notes, appointments, games and trivia.  According to Statistica, a company offering statistics and studies from more than 18,000 Sources, this month, June 2015, business apps were the second-most popular category, and with a share of 10.33 percent of active all apps being business apps.  What do consumers want from a business app? They want user-friendly, customized information specific to them, convenience and added value ‘stuff’ of interest pertinent to the business. Statistica notes this ‘stuff’ as the time, trivia, quotes, weather and so forth. More importantly from the business aspect, this interaction allows you to understand and get to know your customers better and you have to know your customers to be fully able to serve them.

This editorial blog is Part 1 of 2 highlighting specific app functions that The Element Group can offer your bank in order to enhance and maximize the relationship you have with your customers while still encouraging and maintaining direct communication between you and the customer, but in a way that allows you to customize the information for an individual with the ultimate objective being a scheduled.  Our options provide quality information and the ‘stuff.’ Now that we’ve discussed the importance of providing practical and usable information to your customers via the use of effective apps we will follow up with six features that will elevate your presence within your customers prioritized apps and potentially make you a ‘go-to’ resource that keeps your brand front and center on your customers devices creating a daily brand awareness incomparable to any other.

GO TO PART 2 >>

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Article written by Brent Beckett for The Element Group.
Edited by Lyndsay Reese.

 

Small Branches with Big Impact: 6 Ways to Maximize Space in Retail Banking Centers

While community banks and credit unions continue to grow, the physical size of branches are getting smaller and smaller. With the rise of online and mobile banking, along with the introduction of new technologies like smart ATMs and video tellers, today's banks are able to offer more of their services in smaller spaces. While this is great for many reasons, including significantly reduced overhead and operational costs, designing for a smaller footprint introduces its own set of challenges. Our team of experienced designers know that when it comes to small branches, every bit matters. Here are some of their pro-tips:

1) LET THE LIGHT IN.

We immediately perceive well-lit spaces as being larger and more inviting. Let more light into your space by utilizing different materials, such as office walls made of glass. This can improve the amount of natural light let into your branch and give it an airy, open atmosphere without compromising privacy. Still have problem areas? Try illuminating dark spaces with decorative light fixtures or LEDs. This not only brightens your space, but also helps to build your brand experience.

 

2) ELIMINATE CLUTTER.

Cluttered workspaces immediately feel more cramped and claustrophobic. Resolve this issue by ensuring every area of your branch has usage-appropriate storage. Choose office furniture that is built to accommodate necessary file storage. Identify tech-heavy areas of the branch and install outlets and power-strips nearby to avoid running wires and cords through your space. Make sure millwork is built to the specifications of the equipment your staff uses every day, such as computer monitors, printers and cash-dispensers.

 

3) TAKE YOUR MESSAGING DIGITAL.

Blue Hills Bank // 1,500 Sq. Ft.   Learn more about this project   here  .

Blue Hills Bank // 1,500 Sq. Ft.
Learn more about this project here.

We all know that digital signage can be a great investment for many reasons, but did you know how much it can help maximize your retail space? Larger banking spaces have traditionally had ample room to hang posters, display artwork, and promote community events. However, a smaller branch can mean significantly reduced wall space. Enter digital signage. In addition to providing engaging and dynamic content, digital signage allows for limitless messaging opportunity without taking up too much real estate.

 

4) PAINT AN ACCENT WALL.

Blue Hills Bank // 1,500 Sq. Ft.   Learn more about this project   here  .

Blue Hills Bank // 1,500 Sq. Ft.
Learn more about this project here.

A bold wall color can help create a focal point and also gives the illusion of receding in space, making the room feel larger. This is an easy way to support your brand, while making your space more contemporary. Incorporating large-scale environmental graphics or textured wallpaper are other ways you can achieve a similar effect, and add texture to your space.

 

5) USE ORGANIC SHAPES.

Straight lines and sharp angles can appear to close off space and create a more rigid atmosphere. Instead, try using more natural, organic shapes. Think about introducing oval fixtures and curving lines to your space. Flowing forms can help open up small spaces, making them more inviting while increasing visual space.

 

6) THINK ABOUT MATERIALS.

The materials used in fixtures and furniture have always been of key importance when determining the look and feel of any interior space; in smaller spaces material selection is more important than ever. While the possibilities are virtually endless, we have a few tips when it comes to designing for smaller spaces:

1) Use Light Shades. Darker materials carry more visual weight and can therefore have a heavier feel. Try to pick lighter shades that reflect more light, giving the illusion of having more space.

2) Introduce Some Contrast. While lighter materials tend to work best in small spaces, it's important that there is also some contrast. Using too many similar shades can visually flatten a space, and runs the risk of feeling sterile and weightier. Try creating depth by using a darker trim or introducing a contrasting material like metallic accents.

3) Play With Pattern. Adding pattern is another great way to create contrast within your space. Try incorporating patterned fabrics on furniture, or consider tiling your flooring to create interesting geometry.

 

 

Is your bank or credit union looking to build a new branch or acquire a new space? The Element Group specializes in small- and micro-branch design, including the recent completion of a full-service branch within a 150 square foot space. Ask us how we can help with your next project today!

 

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Article written by Anna Taylor for The Element Group.