Solidus recently performed a full refurbishment of the Newtown Savings Bank in Woodbury, Connecticut. We had previously designed its interior, but that was several years ago, and everyone knew it was time for a change. The results of this project were truly stunning, as we brought the branch out of its 1990’s look into a glowing millennial image that customers loved. This blog post was inspired by the project, as we all really appreciated the power of a refurbishment.
Sprucing Up Your Branches Won’t Break the Bank
Refurbishing a bank branch into something sleek and new might sound like an expensive enterprise, but an effective makeover can be a lot less costly than you think. Completely gutting a branch and replacing all its technology (and even its core infrastructure) is a major investment, but other options are available to financial industry decision-makers to remediate the “tired old branch” effect. Solidus has pioneered the art of beautifying and modernizing outmoded retail branches for years. We’ve developed a holistic approach to this type of project, wherein we transform the branch as wholly as possible while preserving any signature features that are too much a part of the institution’s history.
There’s a very powerful psychological component to this: The “new car smell” combined with an old familiar face:
» At a branch of Newtown Savings Bank, at Woodbury, CT there was a large clock, that had watched over the branch’s activities for a long time (see above).
» Bank staff were concerned about preserving the large original oak doors of a branch of The Savings Bank, Wakefield, MA where we performed an extensive renovation.
» There was an authentic oak nautical hoisting wheel which we repurposed as a ceiling decoration at a branch of Newburyport 5 Cents Savings Bank in Portsmouth, NH.
Safeguarding or conserving beloved branch features is just one aspect of an artful renovation or refurbishment. There’s an abundance of other considerations that contribute to a successful facelift. These game-changing but inexpensive refurbishment options are available to banks and credit unions looking to give their branches a quick and easy new lease on life. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
¤ New millwork
¤ Transparent walls
¤ Floor coverings
¤ Window treatments
¤ Complete custom paint jobs
¤ Ergonomic furniture
¤ Brand merchandising
¤ Digital media
Here’s a longer explanation of how these combined little touches can enhance your branch look and feel.
It’s no coincidence that financial institutions often launch rebranding campaigns at the same time as branch refurbishments. A facelift usually needs to be holistic to be effective; it’s like when you paint a room in your house and it reveals the lackluster appearance of adjacent unpainted areas so the scope of the job must often be expanded to include them. Branding schemes and logos, and even color schemes, fall out of vogue at a surprising rate, so when a branch’s palette is updated it often leaves the institution no choice. The cost of a rebranding project can be quite low if it is managed in phases; an initial branch can lead the changes with a new relevant look, and subsequent branches updated in steps depending on the extent of work required for each. A rebranding campaign will always overlap with the second item on this list (Makeover) for the reasons stated above.
It is simply AMAZING how much difference a lick of paint and some carpentry innovations makes. The straightforward branch makeover has survived the branch transformation era and is still going strong. In fact, some banks and credit unions are reluctant to make their branches look too different simply because they don’t want to alienate long-term customers. Of course, there’s always the possibility that your superficial refresh will inspire or even force your marketing people into a rebrand, because the facelift has made your outdated logo and other merchandising look old-fashioned. This is actually a win-win situation; a facelift-rebrand combo is still significantly less expensive than a total branch transformation, but with enough of a difference and buzz around it to feel like one without alarming the customers.
Transparent Modular/Glass Walls.
Modular walls open up the whole branch space and create a refined, modern appearance. Transparent or opaque, they project a sense of honesty and professionalism that instills trust and loyalty. Modular walls are elegant, yet durable and easily reconfigured. They can incorporate storage space, data lines for digital displays and communications, and even security features; many financial institutions use modular walls to divide 24-hour ATM lobbies from the deeper areas of the branch. They can be easily secured and locked according to architectural standards for the industry. For a more traditional appearance, mullions can sub-divide the wall into sections for purposes of marketing, transparency, privacy, etc. There are even options that include “breathing walls” with plants living on the vertical surface for a green and pleasant customer experience.
Convenience – In-Branch, Online, by Telephone, etc.
A branch refresh is a huge opportunity to do more than simply alter the appearance of your business space. Some discrete modifications can enable your institution to meet several vital customer needs. You don’t have to hit every single bullet point of what Bain & Company have called “The Banking Customer Manifesto“, but an inexpensive reshuffle of your institution’s priorities can ensure that you earn loyalty by making your clients feel valued. Maybe you don’t have the budget to replace your ancient teller line with a redesign right now, but an inexpensive rebuild of the counter area can create a more modern look via “teller pods” rather than a contiguous barrier. This will open up the transaction space and encourage more customer flow, exposing consumers to more of your in-branch merchandising efforts.
If you have an available corner space, or a prominent wall, you could complement your newly painted branch interior with a graphic community piece, showing points of local history and tradition. Graphic walls are growing in popularity as financial institutions seek to build stronger relationships with customers and encourage brand loyalty. A community-based approach can garner higher branch traffic and deeper engagement through increased products and services per family. A simple graphic is not a solution in and of itself, obviously, but when combined with the other new branch elements and appearance, this can be the icing on the cake.
Flooring and Window Treatments.
Commercial flooring has come a long way since the days of monolithic bank buildings and forbidding stone (though stone tiles can still be quite beautiful). When combined with a superficial dress up, and some sleek, elegant window treatments, your branch will shine. There’s a huge variety of commercial flooring and window treatments for the financial industry that has previously been very successful in other retail environments.
A branch refurbishment for your community bank or credit union might be all you need to inject some energy into your operation. Put that full-blown branch transformation on the back-burner for a year or two!