Is value creation in business linked to emotional engagement at the workplace? Starting from the marketing idea of ‘lovebrand’ and the ‘lovemarks effect’, a magnifying glass on how the office space has evolved, highlights the main drivers that motivate employees to perform exceptionally.
By Miruna Pavoni
Does anyone else tend to feel overwhelmed by logos, marketing campaigns and call to action slogans? Both well-established brands and new entries are aiming to get a piece of the market share within their industry and increase their profits. But what do the most valued and loved brands in the market have in common? Most frequently there are three key factors that they all share: the connection with customers at an emotional level, the development of a strong sense of loyalty and the foundation of long-lasting relationships between brands and their customers.
However, consumerism has increased as a positive phenomenon of economic growth, without creating real value and loyalty. Consequently, it was inevitable that a new strategy able to revamp them was soon to come. Our happiness and wellbeing do not depend anymore on consumer goods and material possessions.
Back in 2004, Saatchi & Saatchi’s CEO Kevin Roberts made a very good point that “Brands are running out of juice,” and therefore concluded that love is the answer for their rescue. Almost like a Hollywood mainstream story, this is when lovemarks became the concept intended to replace the idea of brands. We might be wondering: What makes love so great when it comes to a brand? Can we grow feelings to something so intangible such as a brand? Well, Roberts suggested that there are three key ingredients to create and identify lovemarks:
- Mystery [We all love great stories! Whether they are overlooking the past, present or future, we all have dreams, get inspired by legends and strive for inspiration.]
- Sensuality [Our engagement reaches a different level when our 5 senses are being stimulated: sight, smell, touch, taste and sound.]
- Intimacy [Any relationship gets real and valuable when it can generate commitment, empathy and passion.]
Designing emotions through experiential marketing has thus become the state-of-the-art strategy for value creation. I suggest placing a mirror on a brand. Instead of looking towards customers, I invite you to switch the viewpoint towards the other side: the employees. Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group once said that “Customers do not come first, but employees do. Once you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.” Following this line of thought, let’s change the approach when designing emotions, from customers to employees.
During the past years more and more companies have opted for and invested heavily into fancy and innovative office designs to attract both customers and employees; but is this a trend and revolution for the work environment that speaks about culture and value creation or is it merely a thin crust that holds back the rigid structures and obsolete procedures of people and businesses whose only focus is anything but their employees? Even though at the beginning it seemed cool and attractive to work in Google-like offices with foosball tables, colorful chairs and free fruit, the new generation is filtering through very severely and looking beyond that. According to Romania-insider.com, the most important criteria in choosing a job for Romanian candidates are personal development opportunities, salary and program flexibility.
Looking more into depth, Steelcase, the global leader in the office furniture industry, after various research has found five key factors that challenge change and make a difference when speaking of the actual wellbeing requirements capable of nurturing emotions and creating loyalty in the work environment.
- Origin stories
People are keen to identify and comprehend the story that stands at the origin of the companies they work for. Companies and employees need to connect and align their vision and mission. In order to buy into these, people need to see what is going on in the backstage. A company can motivate its employees with slogans and bonuses, yet they might not have outstanding results unless they really see the reason why to come to work every day. Most of us choose to invest energy and brains into business philosophies that resonate with our own beliefs, both intellectually and emotionally.
- Connected culture
Employees need to connect not only with the company they work for, but as well with their work peers. Building communities at work that share the same culture will generate more cohesion, commitment and positive outcomes, both internally – at team levels, and externally – in the relationship with customers. A connected culture will reduce the probability of burnout and diminish the engagement in counterproductive work behaviors, such as absenteeism or sabotage.
- Social medium
Humans are by nature social animals. Workplace typologies have evolved radically from the modernist ‘open plan’ to the nowadays ‘open mind’. We are no longer comfortable getting trapped behind a desk, but desire to be a part of a living hive, to work and socialize at the same time, without being disruptive. We need space where creative thinking and collaboration is an integrated part of our daily activity. Hot desks will mingle with phone booths, meeting areas, cushy couches, informal discussion areas or even work cafes. Workplaces focus their attention on people, rather than on tasks.
- Frictionless environments
Luxury has been historically associated with exclusivity and materialistic items. Triggered by our shift in values and the rhythm of changes that surround us, time has thus become the new luxury. Getting the most out of our time has been quickly linked not only to technology and multitasking but as well to the flexibility and adaptability of the spaces in which we work.
- Make your mark
Say ‘no more’ to the ‘one size fits all’! Everyone one of us is a unique individual, and we all like to be treated as such. It comes naturally to get emotionally attached when there is a personal input into the work we do, or into the story of our workplace. Regardless of the high work flexibility and the sharing concepts, placing the stamp in the workplace entails the feeling of belonging.
To wrap it up, in order to increase performance, we need to create more value. We need to create the lovemarks effect at the workplace, through emotional engagement, the development of a strong sense of loyalty and the foundation of long-lasting relationships between brands and their employees. There is a more profound approach towards engaging people through an environment which drives emotional connection, a strong sense of loyalty and long-lasting relationships. “In 2020, keep an eye out for more design elements that support how people feel, think and move. You’ll see more transparency from brands and products, more ways to make meaningful connections and build relationships, more ways to make life easier at work and more ways to make things personal.”
About Miruna Pavoni
Miruna Pavoni is an architect and has taken the role of the Business Development Director at COS (Corporate Office Solution) for Hospitality, Education and Healthcare right after completing her MBA at SDA Bocconi, Milan. With over 7 years’ practice in the built environment and focus on architecture and interior design (offices, residential, hospitality and education), Miruna’s professional experience spans on an international level, having lived and worked in Italy, Spain, UK and Romania. She graduated from the School of Architecture in Barcelona (EtsaB, UPC) and is fluent in 4 languages. Miruna is passionate about everything she does, has an open personality, a sharp eye for business and human performance and is always keen on embracing new challenges.