Store atmospherics includes aspects such as cleanliness, lighting, music, noise, and other sensory elements evident in a retail setting. But, did you know that atmospherics impacts brand image in almost any industry where visitors, including partners, prospective employees, suppliers, and clients, experience your physical location? As part of running a commercial business, it is vital that all areas of the property – both inside and outside – remain well-maintained, pleasant, and easily accessible. This includes both inside and exterior spaces. Read on to see how atmospherics impacts brand image and where to focus in your efforts to improve the atmospherics of your commercial spaces.
Atmospherics impacts brand image
Let’s start by delving more deeply into the notion of atmospherics.
The concept of atmospherics isn’t a new one but dates back to the architects of ancient temples and public spaces who understood the impact their edifices had on the emotions of those who encountered them, evoking awe and appreciation for these artificial environments. Throughout history, architects used natural and man-made materials to create great public spaces that lived long past the lifespan of any individual. Think about the expense and effort currently going into restoring Notre Dame to its prior splendor after the devastating fire that toppled the famous spire once visible throughout Paris. The building is so important that the government wanted to rebuild the cathedral so it looked the same as it has through the millennia using donations estimated at nearly €1 billion.
Atmospherics moves into the realm of marketing
The movement of atmospherics into marketing began in the mid-’70s with an article by famed researcher Philip Kotler (if you studied marketing, you likely used his textbook) that appeared in the Journal of Retailing. Here’s his statement about how atmospherics impacts brand image:
It suggests that, in many areas of marketing in the future, marketing planners will use spatial aethetics as consciously and skillfully as they now use price, advertising, personal selling, public relations, and other tools of marketing. … atmospherics to describe the conscious designing of space to create certain effects on buyers. More specifically, atmospherics is the effort to design buying environments to produce specific emotional efforts in the buyer that enhance his purchase probability.
Over the intervening years, other researchers expanded on this notion of atmospherics as they impact the retail environment to encompass many other marketing environments including commercial spaces and even websites and other electronic surrogates for these environments. And, of course, atmospherics isn’t just an academic concept but is embraced by businesses that understand that atmospherics impacts brand image even when they don’t use that term.
Beyond retail atmospherics
While retail atmospherics focused on sensory elements that encompassed the visual, olfactory, aural, and tactile elements of the environment such as lighting, sound, parking, safety clues, smells, and the arrangement of inventory to allow for shoppers to tough them, broadening the concept to apply to almost any business involves less specific advice for businesses that want to optimize atmospherics to enhance their brand image.
Who experiences atmospherics
If you ever worked in retail, you know that retail atmospherics considered the customer and only the customer. Employees were forced to use bathroom and breakroom facilities that most of us wouldn’t tolerate anywhere else. They were forced to park in special lots that were often poorly lit and maintained as well as farther from the doors. The broader concept of commercial atmospherics involves designing for everyone entering the space.
This recognizes that employees are valuable. They have choices when it comes to where they work and offering good atmospherics is an element that impacts their choice of employers. Plus, with the emergence of OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) in the US and corresponding organizations in many other countries, safety at work became a major consideration.
Obviously, clients form an impression of the business and the competence of its staff when they visit your location, which forms part of your brand image. This is especially true in the context of professional services where the client isn’t in the position to judge the quality of the service they receive as they lack the expertise and, maybe even, prior experiences to draw from necessary to form opinions of service quality.
The same goes for your partners, suppliers, and other collaborators.
Key elements of atmospherics to manage
Proper cleanliness in any commercial business is vital for creating a positive customer experience and meeting health standards. Keeping all surfaces, furniture, and areas spick-and-span to meet health regulations; using disinfectants against germs and bacteria spread as well as detergents on floors to reduce slipping hazards, and emptying garbage bins frequently ensure an efficient system is in place so your cleaning staff can effectively follow it!
When you work to maintain a clean work environment, you find workers will work with you to help in your efforts (such as throwing away trash and wiping up after spills) and keep their own areas neat. The opposite is also true. Workers were found to be 15% more productive in a clean work environment than in a messy one in a study by the University of Arizona.
For any commercial business or facility, safety must always come first. Install safety devices like fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, security cameras, and floodlights at strategic points around the premises and train employees on how to respond in case of emergencies. Have clear evacuation plans posted throughout so everyone knows their responsibilities in case of disaster strikes.
Store chemicals in ways that protect against accidents and exposure, such as in locked cabinets that reduce access to these dangers. Ensure safety equipment needed in case of accidents is readily available, such as eye wash stations around chemicals and breathing apparatus when volatile chemicals are present. I once visited a client where they made pool chemicals including chlorine, which is almost instantly deadly if inhaled. Each employee and visitor was issued an oxygen mask in case of an accident and an alarm sounded to warn everyone to donn the mask when needed. Similarly, a plant where radioactivity is a danger might issue everyone a badge that monitors exposure to identify when medical attention is needed.
Security measures such as locks and alarms are necessary at all entry points to restricted areas like vaults or storage rooms, to not only protect the company’s assets but to protect employees and visitors from unauthorized visitors who might cause harm. Consider investing in an access control system with card readers or biometric authentication on doors and windows for added protection, hiring professional locksmiths for the installation of security door hardware as well as accessories correctly.
And, don’t forget cybersecurity to protect sensitive information belonging to employees, customers, and partners.
Proper plumbing system maintenance is of utmost importance for any business or industrial facility. Make sure a qualified plumber regularly checks pipes and fixtures to make sure that everything is operating optimally, free from leaks or clogs, with extra pipes or fittings ready in case an emergency arises.
To ensure safety in the workplace, your electrical infrastructure should always be up-to-date. Have an electrician regularly inspect the wiring, circuits, outlets, and other components such as equipment. Ensure all electrical boxes are tripped-proofed while replacing damaged wiring or switches quickly to reduce fire risk. An alarming number of fires are traced back to electrical systems, including heating equipment, every year.
Heating & air conditioning system
Be sure to regularly service air conditioning units and heating systems so as to maintain ideal temperatures throughout your facility. Consult with a qualified HVAC technician twice annually (summer and winter) for inspections that include checking refrigerant levels, cleaning wires and filters as well as testing the thermostat.
A fresh coat of paint adds life and professionalism to any commercial space. Hire an experienced painter to inspect walls and ceilings for cracks or damage before applying a new coat of paint, using high-quality paint that won’t fade quickly over time, and consider adding a protective coating that resists mold, dust, and dirt accumulation in high-traffic areas of your facility to present the best appearance to the public and your staff.
Integrating natural elements into your commercial business is an ideal way to create an inviting atmosphere for customers and employees alike. Make sure commercial concrete, trees, shrubs, and other plants receive regular fertilization and pruning sessions and inspect for pests or diseases that could compromise them.
Indoor lighting is vitally important not only for safety purposes but also for creating a healthy work atmosphere. Use natural daylight whenever possible during the day; supplement it with artificial lights when necessary. Make sure fluorescent bulbs are installed correctly, replace any burnt-out ones immediately, and keep windows clear to ensure an ample supply of sunlight entering throughout the day.
By keeping these areas well-kept around your commercial business, you can ensure the safety of employees and customers while creating an inviting atmosphere for all. By investing time and energy into maintenance procedures, your facility will run more smoothly for longer.
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