The Office, Branded
Contemporary corporate interiors increasingly feature wall & glass graphics with their logos, colors & more.
ONE OF THE FUNNY things about the television series — The Office — either the original British or the subsequent American version, is the completely generic setting of the companies’ actual office spaces. Surely this was intended to remind anyone who’s ever worked in an “office” of their own workplaces. The only attempt at branding the interior I can recall is the heartfelt scene where Dunder Mifflin Scranton Regional Manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) wants to purchase a painting of their building from receptionist and amateur artist Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) at the end of a local art show. “It is a message,” Michael narrates over hanging it in a prominent place just outside his own office. “It is an inspiration. It is a source of beauty.”
Today, according to one leading design agency, generic settings depicted in The Office are in decline. “I would say the number [of corporate interior projects we’ve done] has increased — and as an agency, with our clients getting really excited about this, we’ve made a conscious effort to market it more,” said Dan Antonelli, president and chief creative officer of KickCharge Creative (Washington, NJ) and author of Building a Big Small Business Brand. “So we’ve stepped up our efforts to make sure our existing clients know this is a service that we offer.” He’s become much more active in promoting and sharing this work on his and his company’s social channels. “When we get a project that’s completed and integrates a really cool wall wrap, we’re sharing it a lot more,” he said.
You can see the logic here: Do more office interiors, post the results, drive more sales. But it’s not just the promotional aspect. Companies that have completely immersed their office spaces in branding create an environment that produces unmistakable effects on both employees and visiting potential clients.
The wall wraps instill confidence in RDS’ operations as clients simply walk around the office.” — DAN ANTONELLI, KICKCHARGE CREATIVE
RDS Same Day Delivery, a New York-based messenger and delivery service, recently moved into a new office building and brought along KickCharge, the agency they trust for all their advertising and promotion, to brand the new interior. And why wouldn’t they? According to KickCharge’s website, “Just two weeks after wrapping delivery trucks with a brand that’s turning heads in bustling NYC, RDS Same Day Delivery earned a $117K business opportunity.” The agency’s website features dozens of similar clients whose sales soared after branding or rebranding their fleets.Advertisement
“To me, RDS has one of the best integrations of ‘brand’ in an office environment that we’ve done because we got to do everything,” Antonelli said. KickCharge picked the carpet, paint and accent colors — even chipping in on some furniture decisions. But we’ll focus on the half a dozen or more wall wraps throughout the whole environment. “The owner (Larry Zogby) reported he’s [had] accounts he’s trying to land and he’ll invite them to the office to see the facility,” Antonelli said. “The wall wraps instill confidence in RDS’ operations as clients simply walk around the office.”
In addition, “the company conveys a family atmosphere with its employees,” said David Hartman, art director for JMR Graphics (Central Islip, NY), who personally coordinated with Antonelli and Zogby, and whose company produced and installed the wall wraps for RDS’ facility. Hartman had been a graphic designer on the earlier RDS fleet project, so he was well acquainted with the brand and this working relationship. As in that project, the agency and client were open and receptive to JMR Graphics’ suggested refinements to make the designs work on the actual surfaces, Hartman said.
While doing wall graphics is, of course, simpler than vehicles, because the RDS fleet graphics had involved computer-generated graphics only, and the interior involved photographs of RDS employees and fleet vehicles in action as well as the graphics, Hartman’s design team had to check more files. “There was one wall that was a checkerboard of pictures — every square a different photo,” Hartman said. “Whenever a photo didn’t meet the highest quality standard, it was checked to see if it was acceptable.”
The photos proved more than acceptable — “very good branded photography,” as Antonelli said. Using a combination of Illustrator, then Photoshop to show a more realistic mockup, KickCharge completed their part in two weeks with little back and forth. “Because we’re in charge of how what they have looks, we have a lot of latitude,” Antonelli said.
JMR Graphics took those Illustrator and Photoshop files and checked the photos during a two-day prepress before sending out PDF proofs. After approval, the company spent another day or two breaking down everything for printing the wall wraps on 3M IJ180Cv3-10 vinyl using their OKI ColorPainter M-64s. JMR covered the print in 3M Scotchcal 8520 Matte Overlaminate via the shop’s GBC Pro-Tech Orca III, a laminator they’ve had for quite some time. “We’re very meticulous at upkeep,” Hartman said. “We feel if you treat your equipment well, it will treat you well. As long as technology isn’t passing us by, we will continue to use what works. Printers, of course, are updated more frequently.”Advertisement
JMR’s Keith Starling, a 3M Preferred Installer, who has been installing for over 28 years, “got to RDS super super early,” as Hartman said, and completed the installation in one day. An ideal client-agency experience, he added, “they really care about their company and who they associate with.” And when you visit the RDS facility, you see how much they care everywhere you look.
FROM CARTOON TO THE CORE
Clear across the country in Seattle, another KickCharge client, Seatown Electric Plumbing Heating and Air, was one of those who had seen a branded office interior — in this case KickCharge’s own office, showing how the agency’s work changes the lives of its clients — and decided they wanted something similar for their new conference room and break room. Like RDS, Seatown had benefited greatly from a KickCharge rebrand of their fleet and having entrusted all website, advertising and collateral materials to Antonelli’s team, with their sales having grown by $20 million since the start of the relationship. (Changing the lives of clients, indeed!)
KickCharge decided to go with the company’s core values for one wall, in line with the client’s goal for this project. Seatown’s tagline is “Service Out of This World,” which is also kept front and center. Wall wraps are a terrific way to reinforce taglines, Antonelli said, encouraging designers to ask themselves, “What elements of the branding can we infuse in that space? Logos, colors, design elements,” he added. “Company culture, what this brand means: Bring it to life on the wall.”
In an efficiently similar two-week process, KickCharge did their digital due diligence before handing off to regular sign company partner AZPRO (Avondale, AZ), recent winners of four of the six places across the two vehicle wrap categories — two of them designed by KickCharge — in last month’s Signs of the Times Sign Contest (see St, September 2021, page 28). “We have a partnership with KickCharge that anything they can send our way, they do so via email and send the proper artwork,” said Tom Radz, AZPRO’s marketing specialist.
Using PDF and Illustrator files from the agency and wall measurements from their client since February 2019 (also a fleet rebrand), the Arizona company printed the wraps on 3M IJ180Cv3 using their HP Latex 3000 and laminated them with 3M 8518 on their Graphic Finishing Partners Gfp 563TH. AZPRO shipped the vinyl and flew a single installer to Seattle — they always send the same installer to Seatown, Radz said, due to his good relationship with the client and knowledge of the location and customer facility. “The panels were printed perfectly,” Radz said. The only hard part of the installation was one very tight area.
Antonelli mentioned one last benefit of fully branded corporate interiors that sign companies should consider mentioning when selling wall wraps. Some clients have said the ability to infuse branding within the environment helps in their recruitment process. “We’ve seen that in our case, as well, when we have people come in to interview for a job, and they walk into the space,” he said. KickCharge’s own wall wraps compel potential new-hires to think, “You guys really get branding.”
MAKING 2D INTO 3D
You might think that the pandemic, with its work-from-home provisions, has dented the demand for corporate interior office branding. However, just because a company downsizes its office space doesn’t mean that company isn’t interested in having that space branded. Such were the circumstances for a northern New Jersey location of Cognizant.
Ranked by Forbes as one of the world’s best employers, Cognizant is a multinational technology company that provides business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services. They, in collaboration with the New York office of M Moser Associates, a large workplace design company, hired Mixed Media Concepts (Middlesex, NJ) to refine, print and install wall, column and glass graphics for Cognizant’s new office space. “We came in there and helped make it a reality — took it from their 2D design to three dimensional,” said Mixed Media’s owner/graphic artist Nick Basile.
Basile works with a lot of marketing firms and acknowledges that they design some amazing stuff. “But we always have to come back and revisit their designs and make some alterations,” he said. “It looks great; they have them all stacked out as flat panels that have all these vertical lines meet up edge-to-edge. But they don’t realize how that works wrapping around something.”
For example, Cognizant had developed an arrow design for the columns, but Mixed Media had to rework the design to print correctly and for proper alignment. Adding to this, Basile said he found out that on site in the construction world, “anything from 1/2 to 3/4 in. is acceptable.” Getting all this highly complex artwork to line up around corners and on curved surfaces was one of the greater challenges of this project.
FROM DUSTED TO FROSTED
Another difficulty was working on an active construction site for the first time. “Every day everything changed,” Basile said, adding, “One part of the building that should have been done, wasn’t done. So then we had to regroup and pull a whole other set of graphics for a different area of the building.” Even if the part of the building had been completed, an excessive amount of cleaning was required each day. Mixed Media found themselves applying finished film to glass amid dust and “everything else in the atmosphere,” Basile said.
Change played a part in the material to be applied to the glass surfaces as well. Originally, M Moser had specified 3M’s 7725SE-314 Dusted Crystal, but they also wanted printed graphics that were semi-transparent, so Mixed Media produced a sample using 3M IJ8150 Optically Clear. “Cognizant didn’t like how the clear sections of the graphic didn’t match the finish of the dusted crystal,” Basile said. “That’s where the Mactac [IMAGin Bfree Frosted Window Film] came in, because it’s printable [and with it] they had the same edged finish instead of a clear band on the window.”
Basile’s team made numerous trips to the client’s new office where they applied different samples and parts of their design to blank glass walls so Cognizant could get a feel for the look and approve the color proofing. “Cognizant is very specific about their branding and their Pantone colors,” Basile said. “And working on the different materials — going from an optically clear to a frosted film that doesn’t have a true white — it was a bit of a challenge making sure that the color matched across all medias.”
Mixed Media uses Illustrator for all of their design work, as well as ONYX PosterShop for their printing and RIP software. The shop printed the two types of vinyl on their twin HP Latex 360’s: the Mactac IMAGin Bfree and 3M’s IJ180Cv3 for the walls and columns. “We never would have been able to do the project without [the 3M film] just because of the conformability of the product,” Basile said.
Clearly not the only shop to place high value on the popular 3M film, Basile added he’s having a hard time getting it now. “It’s unbelievable,” he said. He recently ordered four kits and his vendor told him, “You’ll see it sometime…” To both protect the film and to ward off reflections and glare, Mixed Media applied 3M 8520 Matte Overlaminate using the shop’s Gfp 563TH laminator.
For such an involved project with so many parties to please, it’s amazing that Mixed Media’s involvement lasted as little time as it did. They attended a concept meeting when the space was being built out and did a walkthrough with the property management and construction team, somebody from the marketing company and the project manager from Cognizant. “They gave us the layout and space,” Basile said. “It was just all framework at that time.”
Early in that period Mixed Media worked on design revisions. Once the physical structures, such as the frames for the glass, were up, they went back, did measurements and confirmed everything in the field from their engineering plans. Then as construction moved quickly, Mixed Media’s team, which included Basile and two and sometimes three others, installed for three days, stepped aside for one, then returned for another four.
“We had to work with the painters in a short timeframe and get recommendations from 3M on what to paint the walls with, so there would be good adhesion with the wall wraps,” Basile said. “We had to make sure we had the correct curing time… The time they painted to the time we wrapped was only five or six days.” Basile admitted he and his team became delirious after working 16-hour shifts overnight, installing 4,000 sq. ft. of wraps and 4,000 of glass graphics — 8,000 sq. ft. total — in seven days.
The delirium paid dividends, though. The Cognizant project has allowed Mixed Media to showcase all they can offer prospective clients and other tenants in the building as thanks for an additional gift to the client from Mixed Media — a branded video the sign company made for Cognizant to show off the new location to the rest of their company. “We’ve gotten numerous other jobs from the tenants in the building to redesign their space — and we pretty much have a ‘remote showroom’ at this property, because anytime someone wants to see what we do, we send them up to that office,” Basile said.
“Usually you do a job, it’s great, you get pictures, make a video and they’re great to show people,” he said. “But when you can actually walk them into the physical space, that sells the job instantly.”
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