FOCUS: LIVE BRANCH MAKEOVER


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The Financial Brand Forum is an annual conference about big ideas, emerging trends, new innovations, proven strategies and actionable insights within the realm of the financial industry. This year, La Macchia Group was honored to be a part of what is considered the biggest and fastest growing conference for senior-level executives in banking by participating in the Forum 2018 Makeover Sessions. 

Financial Brand LogoThe Forum Makeovers are an engaging -- reality TV meets financial marketing -- platform that offers attendees an opportunity to see the creative process and understand the strategic decisions that are made on real projects. The big twist? The 'client' doesn't get to see any of the design process and development, only to see the final outcome live on stage at the Forum. 

La Macchia Group's mission for our clients is to leverage a strong established culture with an exciting brand to create a positive consumer experience. A financial institution's brand identity is embodied by its culture, its consumer messaging, and in the day-to-day experience of employees and consumers alike. The physical space, in this case a branch, must be an expression of the financial institution's brand identity or it will serve as a disconnect to the consumer.

With a client selected and the parameters set, we were eager to take on the challenge.

The Creative brief

US-Eagle-Logo

Client Background: U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Challenge: U.S. Eagle recently completed a rebrand, involving a new name and logo. A strong visual identity resulted along with brand guidelines was established, but they struggled with translating their new look into their physical spaces. They wanted their space to be a destination that would serve their diverse membership and increase member growth.

Mission: To help U.S. Eagle FCU create an environment that would truly embody their brand and allow members and employees to live the brand in the physical space. 

Goals: We identified four key points that would influence branch design and serve the needs of U.S. Eagle:

  • Communicate the Brand
  • Connect Members + Employees
  • Educate Members
  • Translate Across the Branch Network

INDUSTRY CHALLENGES

Generational Differences | Technology | Experiential 

 At La Macchia Group we look at the big picture, understanding how industry patterns and trends will impact a specific project. In the current landscape, the single biggest driver of change is the consumer mindset, specifically, the consumer habits of Millennials and Gen Z. We need to help our clients understand and meet the unique needs of their diverse membership and develop a strategy for attracting, retaining and achieving loyalty, all without alienating older generations. 

Technology is also providing signficant disruption in the financial industry. Our philosophy is that technology is a tool that should be used to help employees engage with consumers. It should be seamlessly integrated into the structural environment in a multifuntional way so that it offers a means of entertaining, communicating, connecting, educating, and transforming. We believe in an artful, strategic blend of technology and architecture.

UFX LogoWith our eye on the consumer mindset and technology integration, our solution to create a distinct User Financial Experience at U.S. Eagle had to answer these questions:

  • Purpose - What is the consumer doing here?
  • Motivation - Why is the consumer here?
  • Medium - How do we connect to the consumer?
  • Expectation - What does the consumer expect from us?


DESIGN EVALUATION

As we engaged with U.S. Eagle to understand their culture and values, evaluate their market position and review their branch network, we uncovered the following factors that were important considerations as we embarked on the design process. 

  1. U.S. Eagle FCU is located in an extremly diverse market
  2. Albuquerque is a mountainous, desert landscape with limited rain and ample sunlight
  3. The Albuquerque community is fun and active who engage in outdoor activities often
  4. U.S. Eagle has a large branch network with building types that lack a consistent brand presence

DESIGN OBJECTIVES

Based on our evaluation of the U.S. Eagle location, landscape, and community, the following objectives were identified:

Design objectives-01


Our design needed to provide U.S. Eagle FCU with a distinct footprint that fits into the rich, diverse market of Albuquerque. A design that can be translated across their branch network that is engaging and builds brand loyalty through strategic technology integration ultimately enhancing the member experience.

The Design Solution

 In response to U.S. Eagle's needs, we focused the design on these main points:

  • Utilize Interactive Teller Machines are to be used as the primary transaction technology in order to maintain a human connection, extend hours of operation and support a Universal Employee model.
  • Develop a multi-purpose branch with versitle spaces that can evolve as the needs of the branch change, including a combination of private, semi-private, informal and educational spaces.
  • Implement technology to support collaborative financial training, information delivery, entertainment and social media connectivity

THE EXTERIOR


The 2,200 sq.-ft. retail branch was carefully sited, keeping the intense sun exposure in mind. Strategically placed as close to the street as possible, the intent was to use the entire building as a billboard. Metal mesh hook shades with a hint of their brand color create a striking line that is that is mimicked by drive-up canopies that were offset from the building in order to easily be seen. Both architectural elements serve as an eye-catching brand statement punctuated by the prominent U.S. Eagle FCU exterior signage.


The canopy shape complements the curvature of the U.S. Eagle FCU icon and the tilted position activates the structure. Due to the glass facade, the hook shade and sun louvres affixed to the building help to block the sun. The interplay between the sun and louvres create an interesting light effect on the interior. A combination of glass, oxidized copper panels and colored metal trim highlighted with external lighting create a classic palette. No matter the time of day, the building has a sense of energy that entices members and passersby.

Toolkit

Exterior Tool Kit

The new branch design was carefully considered in order to create a toolkit of exterior components that can be integrated at existing branches in order to establish continuity and strengthen the brand identity across the market. Here's elements in the 'Exterior Tool Kit':

Hook Shade Awning

Sun Louvres

Neutral/Classic Materials

Signage

THE INTERIOR

The interior provides the appropriate amount of space for a fully functioning branch. It is a flexible plan that supports 2-7 full time equivalents (FTEs) and two ITMs. The focal point upon entering is a custom casework component the team developed and coined the USER Bar (U.S. Eagle Resource Bar). This multipurpose component serves as greeter station, refreshment area, and wayfinding cue. It offers a flat touchscreen display as well as tablets. This unique piece is a scalable element that can adapt to the size and needs of each specific branch.


In addition to the two ITMs, a Help Desk was added with a Teller Cash Recycler. Highlighted by a textural feature wall that subtly displays a watermarked logo, this offers a more traditional teller counter appeal that can be used for overflow transactions during high traffic periods or simply serve as an additional space for interactions.


Two private office areas provide additional conversation spaces for staff and members. One offers a lounge style atmosphere while the other includes a desk with a tabletop interactive display. Technology is seamlessly integrated throughout the space and used in a variety of ways to enhance the member experience.

Vision Tower

 This element is an evolution of the typical community wall. It uses interactive screens and content to create a brand touch point inside the space while serving as an enticing feature outside at a distance due to its visibility from the road.

Vision Tower
Laser Projection Display

Laser Projection Display:

Laser projection shares everything from the weather to social media posts to brand messaging. This dynamic wall is a creative communication tool that commands a presence in a space.

E-Ink:

Going paperless has never been easier with E-Ink. It looks like paper, but is actually a digital display that is easy to edit. Through Beacon Technology, when a member checks in to the app in the building, displays can subtly change to communicate relevant, targeted messaging.

E-ink Technology

Toolkit

Interior Toolkit

For the interior toolkit, we carefully considered elements that would create the most continuity and strengthen the brand identity from one branch to the next. 

Technology Integration

Textural Feature Wall

Ceiling Wing

Custom Casework + Furniture

Branded Finishes

"High-Touch" Experiential Service

The U.S. Eagle Member Experience

U.S. Eagle FCU wanted a branch experience that marries the personal and self-service channels they offer, an experience that speaks to their diverse membership and educates them. They wanted a branch that is a distinct destination.

We worked to understand the diverse member types and designed a branch with each distinct User Financial Experience in mind. From the retiree to the working mom to the high school student, our team put themselves in each of their shoes and crafted what their experience would be in the branch. 

The result: a well-crafted branch strategy that creates a memorable, branded experience designed to drive brand loyalty, increase branch traffic, and grow the branch's financial performance. 

The wrap-up:

The 2018 Financial Brand Forum Live Branch Makeover was an amazing opportunity to explore the future of branch design. Our team at La Macchia Group is committed to uncovering big ideas, actionable insights, emerging trends, and proven strategies with our clients. We strive to bring meanint to the built environment, whether it be for a new facility such as U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union, or at an existing location that needs fine-tuning in order to deliver its brand promise.

So, how can we help you bring the future of branch design to your financial institution?

 Contact Us!