When companies are creating their brands, they tend to first think about their media. They may create logo, website, and ad copy even before they create a formal business plan. In our digital age, these abstract aesthetic choices are so very important that it is easy to forget that a lot can be communicated concretely.
Some businesses know that the customer’s experience of space is part of what they are selling. Restaurants, spas, hotels, and boutiques embrace ambience as part of their brand because the aesthetics and feel of the location influence a client’s perception of their services. Every company that has customers or employees meet in a location can take a page from this playbook. It is possible to enhance a company’s story by deliberately choosing elements of its setting.
Studies in psychology show we draw “metaphors” from physical cues in our environment that help us come to conclusions about the world we live in. For example, depending on whether they’re holding a hot or cold cup of coffee, people will change their opinion of the social “warmth” of a person they’re introduced to. This environmental cueing is something most people are not aware of consciously. Still, a building’s façade is the first knowledge we have of the people inside: by being deliberate, a company can place cues in its surroundings that help underline a well-constructed corporate brand.
Bike racks or bike parking bollards are an efficient brand addition to outdoor spaces. They carry meaning both in presence and in design. Like the temperature of a cup of coffee, the way they’re used can enhance a first impression.
Concern for the environment
Bike racks announce that a company prioritizes the environment. This is not only about big-picture concerns, like climate change: a bike rack also suggests that a company is thinking about congestion and traffic flow around the building. This sort of flow engages the local environment, not just the global one.
Concern for people’s health
Active transportation makes for a healthier community and health oriented, active, or outdoorsy brands need to offer bicycle parking as a matter of course. Yet even brands outside of the health and fitness industry can signal concern for their customer’s health by offering a place to secure a bicycle. A business that sees no customers at the door may show their employees a commitment to employee well-being.
Accessible to all
Many cyclists are aficionados of transportation: they also drive, walk, and take transit. Bicycle parking welcomes multi-modal customers, even those in a car during their visit.
At the level of physical metaphor, a parking lot without bike rack hints that the destination, and possibly the business inside it, is remote and unconnected. Even if there are very few cyclists coming to a given space, the presence of a bike rack suggests a diversity of users and employees.
Attention to detail
At certain stores or fast-food restaurants, there are garbage cans placed at variable distances from the front entrance. If they’re well located, the customer can have the pleasant experience of unwrapping their purchase or finishing their food and having a garbage can steps away to relieve them of their trash. This attention to detail cares for the customer even after the end of their transaction.
Commercial bike racks, especially ones placed well with respect to vehicle parking, cyclist and bike security, and the store’s main entrance, do the same before the customer enters the building. They announce that a business is paying attention, offering solutions to make the day flow more easily.
Communities operate on the street. In denser urban areas, a bike rack placed by one company might be used by customers of nearby—or even competing—establishments. This is not the drawback it appears to be for a business whose brand values include “community.” A store that offers bike parking to all participates in the streetscape. It’s a simple gesture of engagement and goodwill. If the bike parking is adjacent to an interesting display or sign, this can additionally draw new clients in.
Any type of outdoor bike rack is a statement. Focusing on good design principles when choosing the style of bicycle parking can make brand adherence clearer. Bike racks can complement the landscape in a way that suggests brand values, or be directly related to logos or color palettes.
Standard commercial bike racks come in many architectural forms. The shape can be picked to complement the architectural style of nearby buildings, the landscape design, or even the corporate logo. Columns, circles, squares, triangles: the most basic elements of a logo can be echoed in the careful choice of bike rack or bike bollard.
Bicycle parking can be a design feature repeated both for utility and effect. A line of racks can guide the eye to a store entrance. An odd-number of clustered objects close together might look more symmetrical than even-numbered groupings, imparting a certain style. The number of racks offered should at least be able to cover the number of average riders who visit in a day, but they can also be used in order to create a look that echoes the major design choices of a brand.
Placement is often dictated by practical concerns: bicycle parking should generally be close to the front entrance, and in a place that is visible from streetscape or front door to help protect the bicycle from theft. Within these guidelines, the placement of bicycle parking can be used to create a visual funnel to draw people toward the entrance.
Bike racks are often bought in black for traditional architectural looks, or stainless steel for modern ones. They can also be powder coated in colors chosen to match your corporate palette. For small orders, there are six standard colors available, but large orders of bike racks and bollards will allow for custom color matching.
Corporate branding can be taken out of the abstract and made physical when considering the design and placement of outdoor site furnishings. With science ever clearer about environmental cues leading to subjective feelings and impressions, the decoration of a space can say a lot about a company. In marketing, a picture is worth a thousand words. An immersive environment is worth many more.