Shaping workplace perceptions through visual and sonic branding

By harnessing the power of art and sound, organisations elevate their workplace experience and create engaging dialogues about their values and culture.


By Emily West
Senior Associate – Melbourne, Sydney

Branding is about shaping perceptions. In the same way that our first impression of the people we meet is influenced by the way they speak, dress, and behave, our perception of a business is formed by similar factors within the first seven seconds upon entering its workplace.

Aligning space and brand sends a strong message to stakeholders, inviting culturally aligned talent and organic marketing opportunities. Brand experience presents an innovative use of creative expressions to reflect shared experience and culture, thereby offering an authentic insight into the personality of an organisation.

The changing role of brand in the workplace

While it was enough for a brand to repeat a consistent message to its stakeholders in the past, today’s successful brands go much deeper - they define and reflect their corporate culture more visibly by communicating their authentic personality to their audience in more meaningful ways. Projecting a single image or message is no longer sufficient – innovative organisations must find ways to create a dialogue with their stakeholders and expand this conversation outward. “To be progressive, brands must be much more fluid, involved, and responsive than in the past,” shares Nico Nicoson, an Australian artist we collaborated with for our recent work with Intercom in Sydney. “Authenticity, expression, and innovation have nudged consistency to the side.”

This is manifested in Intercom’s new workplace, for which we engaged Nico, our client’s local team and global business to gain a thorough understanding of their personality, culture, and history, enabling us to transform culturally symbolic elements into a narrative artwork. The creative work reflects the team’s relationship-driven ethos and includes favourite foods that bind Intercom staff together, fun Sydney sights, and references to the founder’s homelands.

Graphics elevating the arrival experience in Intercom's new Sydney office

Graphics elevating the arrival experience in Intercom’s new Sydney office

Spaces have an influence on how people think, feel and behave within them. Indigenous rock art and religious artwork are our earliest account of this, and contemporary workplaces are no different. More so today than ever before, organisations recognise the value in creating physical spaces that reflect the brand’s personality and express the underlying principles and values of their corporate culture while facilitating the type of digital and social interactions that benefit a dynamic business.

Reinforcing brand equity

Our network of partner artists offers organisations unique opportunities to represent their brand from creative perspectives. Considering the importance of designing a memorable arrival experience, our work with Nutanix features a futuristic mural created by Sydney artist BEASTMAN, who assembled the symbology of cloud data with organic elements that reflect the Sydney landscape and interior aesthetics. The company’s emblematic X logo is creatively displayed at its core, communicating a message of positive disruption and innovation.

Mural feature behind the reception in Nutanix's new Sydney office

Mural feature behind the reception in Nutanix’s new Sydney office

Companies are increasingly acting as patrons to the arts in the same way that religious institutions did in the past. This symbiotic relationship is an increasing trend between businesses and artists, which positively reinforces the workplace culture, brand equity and the cultural landscape beyond the office. “It was essential that the workplace reflects the Nutanix business objectives but also the local Sydney team’s unique needs and culture,” shares Janine O’Malley, Nutanix’s ANZ Workplace Manager. “We now view our Sydney workplace as a benchmark for future projects and one of the most admired Nutanix offices in the world.”

Capturing the power of sonic branding

In the spirit of exploring the different creative possibilities to reinforce an organisation’s identity, sonic branding engages our mind and creates an instant connection between a particular sound and its associated brand: “Auditory neuroscientists have studied how sound has the power to evoke an emotion and create an atmosphere that can trigger some of our most deeply buried memories within three seconds,” shares award-winning composer and sound designer, David Pickvance.

Psychoacoustics help us differentiate soothing sounds, such as the gentle patter of rain, the ambience of the forest, or the crashing waves on a beach, from distracting noises that can negatively impact our mental health. Our work with Trend Micro takes into consideration people’s mental well-being by incorporating scents, visuals, and sounds of nature into the arrival experience, enabling staff and visitors to enter the office with a relaxed state of mind. Given the positive feedback received from Trend Micro staff, we are exploring more opportunities to elevate our clients’ work environments and their organisation through sonic branding.

Trend Micro's combination of its biophilic wall and sound creates a soothing arrival experience

Trend Micro’s combination of its biophilic wall and sound creates a soothing arrival experience

Considering the current change our world is experiencing and scrutiny in the way people use space, it’s important that we continue to deliver meaningful, empathetic workplace experiences that unite people, place, and brand culture. The subtle integration of creative and cultural details, as well as other design elements, helps us to create environments that engage emotions and express an organisation’s brand in more sophisticated and meaningful fashion.

If you’re looking to elevate your branding and shape the perception of your workplace, click here to contact our Australia team.

Read the full Nutanix project story.

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