Branch Design

Avidia Bank: Leominster Renovation

Avidia Bank: the striking result of a merge between Hudson Savings Bank and Westborough Bank, chose to renovate their Leominster Branch in an unconventional way. They closed the main portion of the branch over the course of eight days in order to get the branch as fully functional as possible in the least amount of time. CarrieAnne Cormier of Avidia Bank graciously spoke with me over the phone to share some insight into the project. 

 Avidia has recently built two other branches that had a more modern look and feel. In order to keep with brand standards and maintain consistency, CarrieAnne felt that it was time to bring Leominster up to snuff. While well maintained, the last time it was updated was in 2005, the year it opened. It was time for a change. For this space, they wanted a more modernized look, one that would attract and engage a younger demographic. Ultimately, this would target new customer segments and ideally build more market share in an area saturated with banks and credit unions. 

Makeover: Day 1

Makeover: Day 8

They chose to fast track this particular project due to the smaller square footage. Spatially, sectioning off parts of the branch while keeping the doors open was not a viable option. However, shutting down the branch for eight days was some cause for concern. To remedy this issue, Avidia decided to keep the drive-up open all week, providing service to customers throughout the entire renovation. This different approach to branch transformation presented its own challenges and stresses, but in the end the hard work paid off. CarrieAnne went on to say that this process was something that she deemed well worth repeating for another smaller branch. However, in terms of a larger one, she would opt for a more traditional approach. 

She made a point of mentioning the dedication of project managers Nate Henry (Element) and Mikala Geurtsen (Avidia) who were in close communication throughout the entirety of the project. Having project managers on both sides of the project allowed for smooth execution and easy troubleshooting. Based on the time crunch, there was little room for error and people were working round the clock to get this project done. There was a little hitch with a carpet being backordered, but that was quickly rectified by Element’s Alina Pawlowski who found a suitable replacement in record time.

 The branch is open now, and the reactions of the customers were priceless. CarrieAnne shared her favorite reaction which occurred only after 2 days after reopening. A customer came in and said, “Wow this doesn't even look like a bank, it’s beautiful!” 

She was very complimentary of the team at Element, saying that they were fun to work with and that they challenged Avidia to think creatively and experiment with different things. She then went on to say that Element does a great job of figuring out and then producing this “branch of the future,” a concept that extends beyond a sleek design and into an effective and smooth workflow.

A big thank you to CarrieAnne for jumping on the phone to answer some of my questions! You can find her on Instagram @banksmartcarrie and Twitter at @BankSmartCARRIE


Written by Bryn Baldasaro for The Element Group.
Edited by CarrieAnne Cormier .

Organized Interior Design: Form & Function Maximizes the Effect of Promotional Display

The general rule for architects is to determine where to install walkways that follow traffic paths.  We’ve all seen the worn grass paths cutting across and through the intended design of geometric and aesthetically pleasing hardscapes originally created to direct pedestrians from one point to another.  As a result, experienced designers take the time to see how people use a particular space before laying the brick, spreading the gravel or pouring the concrete and install the systems based on what the users determine is the most user friendly.  This thinking should apply to most design elements, promotional placement and services within your business.

During a recent credit union visit we noticed a brand new motorcycle parked between the customer service counter and the teller lines. Placed there as a promotional prop for low interest loans on motorcycles, the bike theoretically was in a great location.  The problem is that the waiting area is positioned in such a way that customers have to zigzag, not only away from the motorcycle, but also away from another beautiful promotional display. This particular credit union was very diligent in establishing stimulating promotions, but not how their customers navigated the space and as a result, essentially deemed the promotions invisible.

There is a science and a lot of psychology involved with properly creating an effective and user-friendly retail and service-oriented space. Successful grocery stores have mastered the art of effective layout and design, which result in more sales and customer retention. "Nothing in the store is by accident. Everything is by design," said Paco Underhill, founder and C.E.O. of Envirosell, a retail-focused research and consulting firm in New York. One of the things that the Food Marketing Institute and the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute have told us is that roughly 60 percent or more of what we buy in the supermarket wasn't on our list," Underhill said. "If I stop somebody on their way into a store and have them review for me what their mental list or written list is, and then I look in their basket as they walk out the door, roughly 60 percent of what's in that basket they didn't tell me about walking in." The key, says Underhill is to get the consumer to ‘stick around.’ This is why grocery stores have pharmacies and banks. The longer a customer is in the store the more they are likely to buy.

"Certainly a retailer tries to direct you through a store in a way that's more advantageous to generating more sales," said David Bell, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. "They're going to be stimulated by promotions and things in the environment."

However, the promotions and stimulations must be positioned in such a way that the consumer can’t miss them and this is done in combination with strategic design, but also in realizing where and when a customer will most likely engage in a promotion. Grocery store science is long studied and considers every action and thought of the consumer from what hand they push the cart with to what is at eye level versus waist level. (Read More) So when was the last time you took the time to observe your customers in action? How do they move through your space or more importantly, how do they want to move through your space? Where is their focus? Are they occupied trying not to bump into things or noticing the shiny new motorcycle they hadn’t considered buying, but now imagine the wind through their hair because they have been able to feel the leather seat and sparkle in the paint? Do your customers frequently ask the same questions? If so, then perhaps it is time to resolve the issue by making a change and reinventing a system that eliminates the confusion.

Consider the frustration you’ve felt as a customer when you can’t find what you are looking for and have to ask where to find something. It should be your mission to eliminate as much frustration as possible for your consumers while also welcoming them into a user friendly space and inspiring them to interact with your promotional items. After all, you’ve invested the time, energy, money and space into a promotional display so you want to maximize the effects of it and capitalize the results it produces.  This, of course, is accomplished by positioning the promotion in a place the customer is most likely to engage with it. Where do customers take pause? Where are they moving at a fast pace and head down? Where are they forced to stop? Remember that the average attention span of the average American is now eight seconds. Figure out where you can capture those eight seconds and position your promotion in that spot.

Digital displays are fast becoming a solution for the over active mind and distracting environments. Static displays can become a bit like furniture and instigate an element of apathy while a consumer navigates a space. Digital displays function in the realm of the modern mind and offer enough movement and change that a consumer will likely take notice. Like a fish to a shiny lure, digital displays prompt a consumer to see what it moving on a screen and if the image and content is compelling enough you can get your message across within the six seconds offered.

Element, specializes in creating efficient retail spaces and effective promotional items, but we encourage you to observe your customers. Watch not only how they use your space, but also how they want to use your space. This will help you learn how to better accommodate your customers and get the most from your promotional displays.

Sometimes major design changes are needed, but sometimes it is as simple as moving some furniture and directional but as we always say ‘Every Bit Matters.’ 


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