Tips for Laying Out an Impressive Reception Area
First Impressions Really Matter!
Every successful business executive knows that it’s extremely important to make a strong, powerful, brand-centric first impression across all their marketing materials, including website, brochures, in-store materials, business cards, etc. What sometimes gets overlooked, however, is just how true that all-important first impression is when it comes to their business office, and most especially, for their reception area! Remember that when a client, potential client, or business associate first encounter your business office, it is the reception area where that critical, indelible first impression of your business happens. So, make it count! Consciously and intentionally design a lobby that will wow your visitors, make them feel comfortable and relaxed, engaged with your brand, and eager to do business with you. Here are a few tips for making that happen.
Make sure it conveys your brand
Sure, you must ensure that your lobby/reception area is comfortable, pleasing and practical. But just make sure that your reception area is absolutely not bland and anonymous; interchangeable with any old “corporate” look. All elements of the reception area’s design should be mutually reinforcing and harmoniously convey your brand. So, what are the key elements of your brand? Are you an ambitious, scrappy-but-fun start-up? Maybe a long-standing, preeminent law firm? An outdoor camping, hunting and fishing outfitter? Whatever the case, make sure your reception area or lobby clearly conveys your brand and its core values.
Don’t forget to decorate it using your company’s color pallet, and make sure your company’s logo is prominently displayed (but not in an overbearing manner). Place a large, easily visible television screen in the lobby, playing an engaging, repeating loop of video material conveying information about your company and brand that you want visitors to pay attention to and learn about. Include things like your products and/or services, success stories and testimonials, your company’s history, stories about your employees, stories about your brick-and-mortar stores (if you have them), or whatever else you think is critically important about your company and brand.
Include tasteful, classy and brand-supportive art as an important design element. This might be things like small sculptures, paintings or other pieces to be hung on walls, elegant, high-end craft pieces set on end tables or coffee table, or whatever you feel best fits with your company’s brand. Consider supporting local artists/craftspeople to communicate your corporate social and community responsibility efforts. And don’t forget to include a few beautiful, leafy and green potted plants that help make the room more “alive” and fresher!
Make sure it’s comfortable and brand-centric
It may not be obvious initially, but it can sometimes be challenging to harmonize comfortable, inviting, relaxing design elements with a brand-centric message. For instance, if your company is a distinguished, preeminent law or investment firm, you want your reception area to convey that message. At the same time, however, you don’t want visitors to feel intimidated, receive a message that’s too stuffy or uptight, or sit on furniture so stiff and formal that it’s downright uncomfortable. You want visitors to be impressed, sure, but also to be comfortable, welcomed and engaged positively. This is where an excellent design firm, experienced at balancing such important considerations, can become important.
Make sure your reception area furniture is comfortable and relaxing while still brand-centric. If you’re a fun, modern upstart, provide comfortable, cushioned seating that’s modern, in your brand colors, and conveys a bright, fun image; but steer clear of stiff, sterile furniture that might belong more appropriately in a museum of modern art. If you’re that outdoor outfitter, provide furniture that’s a bit rustic-looking or maybe in the mission style while making sure it’s also very comfortable and relaxing.
Don’t forget those all-important “extras”
Make sure to include the smaller, sometimes-overlooked design elements that make the visitor experience even more welcoming and pleasant. These might include a place to hang coats, umbrella stands, a welcome mat where visitors can wipe off the soles of their shoes when it’s raining, and a beautiful (and brand-harmonious) area rug. Provide reading materials, including magazines on a variety of topics (including, but not limited to, industry-related ones), company pamphlets, promotional materials, and business cards. Provide Wi-Fi with a prominently displayed, secure password. Consider adding group seating so that visiting work teams can continue their preparations for a scheduled meeting.
Don’t forget to offer your visitors refreshments, including water, fresh pots of coffee and tea (including non-caffeinated types), and maybe even small treats/snacks, breath mints, and other sweets. Make your visitors feel like they are VIPs in your eyes!
Provide simple, clear navigation
Have you ever spent a chunk of time waiting in a cavernous corporate lobby with multiple reception desks, unclear or no signage, hidden or non-obvious bathrooms, lots of people standing around looking confused, or other such problematic design elements? The last thing you want is having your visitors feel confused and unsure about where to go next. So, make sure your reception area layout and design eliminate any such points of ambiguity or confusion.
The navigational design must be approached with the same care and attention to detail as other more obvious design elements. Depending on your company’s size, and thus of its appropriate reception area, this might require conducting an informal or formal visitor traffic study. Study visitor volume, flow and usage patterns with an eye toward the formal design of reception area layout, navigational design, and related demands. Then use your design firm and/or available space management software to make appropriate, data-based decisions about space layout and utilization that eases visitor navigation and flow.
Ensure that visitors quickly and easily know where to go to register their arrival, and make sure receptionists can see easily see them arrive and greet them. Make sure visitors won’t need to stumble their way around the furniture and plants to get where they need to go. Make sure bathrooms are provided and clearly visible along with appropriate signage, together with elevators and other important navigational elements. Finally, make sure there is a clearly marked mail and package delivery area, separate from the visitor reception area.
To sum up: Make that all-important first impression really counts!
Make sure your visitors have a super-charged first, second, third, and every impression. Design your reception area with your customer’s experience ultra-important as well as ultra-brand-centric. This will make them eager to see you and do more business with you, now and well into the future.