Design With a Purpose in 8 Easy Steps

Follow these design tips to make your office uniquely yours.

By Leslie Short


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What does it mean to design with a purpose? It really means you need to sit back and evaluate the story you want to tell about your business, what you represent as well as the present clients you have and those you would like to attract.

Your office is not your home but you and your employees spend more time in the office then in your home.

Regardless of the size of your office, big budget or small, here are the following questions you need to ask yourself and eight tips to start you on your way.

Start out by asking yourself what is my brand message? What story do I want my clients to have about my office? Color, is it bold and bright or peaceful? Style, is it Modern, contemporary, classic, Chic? Who are my clients? Designing your office is the just as important as you creating a logo for your brand.

1. Be clear on what your office says to others.

If you are a creative agency and you look like a doctor's office something is off. Before you begin designing your space pull items from magazines that you like and even ideas you don't like. If you are designing the office yourself or working with a designer, knowing what you like and don't like helps the research process.

Who are your clients and what services are you offering? How do you want your clients to feel when they enter? Those are the main questions to understanding how you should think about designing your space.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Designing Your Office

2. How does it or will it translate into design?

I've had law firms say we must appear trustworthy and reliable. That's great but is the only way to convey that is with mahogany (everything)?

Copper, brass, marble and chrome also speaks of trust and reliability. Don't try to be who you are not just because "that other "office was featured in a magazine. Be true to who you are and stretch your wings with outside of the norm so that the design represents the personalities of the owners.

3. Colors and how you use them.

Accent items (vases, desk accessories, lamps and rugs) even throw pillows are a great way to add dashes of color into a space without having to commit to painting. Yes a throw pillow or two outside of the waiting area will work. A throw pillow in any seat in any office for guest including the boardroom is a nice touch.

4. Artwork also speaks of your brand.

Just because the last tenant left it and it fits in the spot doesn't makes it right for your brand. Use step one to enhance step four.

Related: Design Your Office to Fulfill Employees' Most Basic Needs

5. Photos, certificates and awards.

Instead of just hanging the above on random walls how about selecting a space in each room on various walls throughout the office. Your waiting area may be filled with you and recognizable faces if you are in the entertainment or creative field. Awards if you are a business and certificates in unique frames if you are in the medical field. What's important to your clients again go back to step one. (What do you want them to know about you on entry)?

6. Photo and award showrooms.

If you have the space and want to make several showrooms special how about calling each showroom what it is. Photo showroom is filled with fun photos whether it is of your staff, clients or events the company have created or attended.

Same for the certificates showroom, keep in mind do not hang them all in one line select different size frames as well as colors (select a color scheme and work with that)

Award showroom, pending on the space use standing slim shelving to feature the awards and then add floating shelves on the wall of various sizes. Using floating shelves in various sizes will give a modern feel to the showroom without feeling overcrowded.

Related: What Your Office Design Says About You As a Leader (And It Isn't Pretty)

If your showroom does not have a modern feel you can still use floating selves in various sizes just stagger them down the wall so the awards aren't cramped on a shelf.

7. I want my office in the press.

If you are looking to have your office featured in the press then what makes it different? Having a bunch of cool things in a space is just that a bunch of cool things in a space. The items you have in your office needs to tell the story of your business and the work that you do. We all can't have several floors and showrooms to design. If that's the case then select one "creative room, motivational room or whatever you call it in your industry and design that room so that it stands out (you only need one unique piece to make it stand out and design around that piece) but still works with your branded story.

8. Don't forget the break room/lunch room.

I know it's just the break room, or a kitchenette but it should still be designed. I walk into so many well-designed spaces and pass the open kitchenette area and it's just there, no color, no style no nothing. The break room needs to have its own personality as well. Select a color and use it in the stools, chairs and table. The containers holding items should match and the appliances should also match.

I've given you eight easy steps to design and brand your office space to make it uniquely yours. I would love to hear how you have designed your space outside of your home office. Ready, set, design.

Leslie Short

Entrepreneur, public speaker, change agent

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