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Branded corporate environments turn bored employees into brand influencers

Posted in journal

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by Cameron Wykes, President at Jacknife Design Inc.

One of the biggest challenges to face most brands, is the need to stay relevant in today’s fast moving marketplace.

When Jacknife is called in to help, we naturally look at every brand touchpoint, to see where we can drive greater impact. But it’s often in the areas where our client’s brand is not, that we find the greatest value. One of the best examples of this is right under our client’s noses.

Their own corporate office environment.

We have all been invited to the client’s office for a meeting at one time or another… as they walk you down halls of some nondescript off-white colour, to an empty stuffy boardroom with a neglected flip chart stand pushed into the corner, and if there is anything on the walls, it’s either an abstract piece that matches the wainscotting or a water colour landscape piece that the boss won at a golf tourney back in ’98. Beyond the logo on the wall behind the reception desk, there’s really nothing that communicates the brand’s value, uniqueness, persona… Nothing.

God forbid that we see one of those ‘inspiration posters’ right next to the lunch room.

So where is the brand that they have worked so tirelessly to build in the eyes of their current and future customers?

During a Corporate Environment Branding exercise, we interview employees to best understand their roles, their day-to-day machinations, and how they engage with the environment and each other. While every project of this type is different, the response by employees regarding the environment they work within is not. When asked: “What inspires you about your workspace here at ___________?” we get a consistent “…nothing worth mentioning.” Can you imagine if that’s what your consumers thought of your brand? So why is it acceptable for established brands to short change themselves by overlooking their own people and their work spaces that help facilitate that success?

The second part of the interview process is with the leadership team. We ask questions that help us understand how they got to the current state of the environment and what they are looking to see as positive outcomes of the branding project. Within the interviews, we get all sorts of insights as to why their office looks as it does:

“Our employees talk about the brand all day, so we never found the need to splash it around the office.”

“As a respected brand, we need to keep the appearance of a professional, responsible, corporately-minded company.”

“These guys are staring at computers all day, I didn’t think they cared what the office looked like.”

“Customers never see the inside of our offices, so we never thought to mattered.”

Strong brands are built from the inside out

When you think about building your brand’s strength in the market, who knows more about that brand / product / service than your own employees? Who’s livelihood depends on the success of the brand? Who’s spending more time at your offices than pretty much anywhere else? It’s hard for leadership to ignore the fact that some of their very best influencers are sitting all around them, day in and day out. It’s really about looking within, and starting with what the brand means to them and creating a space that engages and involves them and makes them an integral part of the brand’s personality and ongoing success.

Our co-creative lead and partner, Mike Kelar puts it best. “When we execute a branded interior, whether it’s an office, a retail pop-up or an experiential event, you have the opportunity to turn the brand into something more tangible, tell a story, and provide some surprise and delight. It’s not about ‘Marketing’ the brand but about giving the brand some Soul.”

Jacknife has been fortunate to have designed and built a number of corporate environments, for a variety of well-known brands including Nike Toronto, Mondelez Canada, and most recently, Ace Bakeries and Weston Bakeries. It was our Weston project that won Jacknife a GOLD Marketing Award.

examples of branded environments by jacknife

Beyond the accolades, we have experienced first-hand what positive impact a fresh and progressive branded work environment does to employee morale and office culture. It not only demonstrates to employees that you are investing in them, but it shows that the brand is an extension of them and their daily contribution.

To view our Gold Award for Weston Bakeries, click here.

To see more of our work in the Branded Corporate Environments space, click here.

For more information, please contact: Cam Wykes, President, Jacknife Design 416-506-0202 x 227

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