First Impressions: Thinking Through Reception Area Branding

By Stephen Searer / July 8, 2015

We’ve all heard the old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Though speaking of interpersonal interactions, the same could easily be said for the impression of anyone entering an office for the first time: a good experience will associate positive emotions with the company you’re visiting.

The importance of creating a positive first impression for guests is likely the reason people spend so much time looking at inspiring photos of reception areas and lobbies here on Office Snapshots.

We recently spoke with Jacqueline Barr, Principal of Design at Ted Moudis Associates whose work we’ve featured several times, about the interplay of branding, the reception, and the importance of first impressions:

OS: What is the importance of capturing and portraying a company’s brand in an office reception area?

JB: I think it’s paramount, it’s the first impression an existing /prospective client or team member has of the organization. But that does not mean it has to be overt and over the top. Some of the best branding can be almost understated, elegant and almost simple.

Branding comes in many forms: It could be just a sophisticated offering of comfort and security with minimal info and graphics, perhaps something as simple as a hint of the corporate color, or something that is much more dramatic, has cultural outreach and perhaps serves to help the reception area become a hub of activity.

OS: Are there any drawbacks to having a generic reception space?

JB: Every client wants to send a different message to their visitors, but I think it should never be generic. There is always a simple and effective way to ‘claim” that space without additional time and money. Like I said, it could be something as simple as a wall tastefully painted with the corporate color.

OS: What are the practical benefits for staff or visitors to the office?

JB: I’m not sure if practical is the right word, but I think the correct reception, be it size or use should empower the user to feel connected to the organization. The impact of an organization’s physical space is right up there with compensation in attracting and retaining great staff. Reception is where that journey / perception begins.

OS: How does Ted Moudis go about working with companies to pull together a reception area? Are design ideas client driven or design-team driven?

JB: It’s less about focusing on the specific reception requirements per say, but looking at the experience the client wants to create and building off of that. All our collaborations with our clients are joint efforts where we build on ideas & suggestions and end up with a solution that ticks all the boxes……e.g., WOW factor, branded, efficient, multi functioning, timeless.

OS: Are there any bad ideas when it comes to combining brand and the reception?

JB: Personally, I think that less is more in almost every case. A space can be highly creative and impactful without looking overdone and processed. The one thing to think about when looking at brand and space, is – is it timeless? What shelf life does it have? If it’s not, then it has to be a flexible solution that allows for easy change.

Several reception designs Ted Moudis Associates have completed for clients such as the National Football League, Skanska, and Initiative Media are below.