Branch Showcase: Experimental Concept Stores & Flagship Designs

NAB – Concept Store with Custom Fragrance & Music

NAB’s new concept branches will use custom scents and music. Managers will have a menu of fragrances to choose from (none of which smell like cash). One of the scents is reported to smell like jasmine and grapefruit. The music’s volume will be adjusted subtly between the doorway, queuing area and the quieter meetings spaces.

Other features include Intelligent Deposit Machines that accept up to 50 notes and 30 checks at one time. They are billed as the first automated machines capable of accepting checks, notes, coins and business deposits in one transaction.

There is also free WiFi, and free public use of two iPads and two Macs.

NAB created a test lab — a mock store in a Melbourne warehouse — to observe customers in a real-life setting in order to refine the final store design.

NAB worked with design firm Warren and Mahoney on the new branch concept. This is the first of five similar style stores NAB is opening across Australia in the first half of 2012.

“Our existing customer utilization of our stores is declining naturally — not dramatically,” a NAB spokesperson told iTnews. “However, there’s still an expectation that a physical presence exists in a convenient place for most consumers.”

“Stores will always play a critical role in banking as they are where customer relationships are formed,” a NAB’s retail GM explained.

Photo credits: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia

A guided video tour of the new branch design with NAB’s head of retail banking, Peter Holmes.

Commonwealth Bank – Flagship Branch of the Future

Commonwealth Bank’s new flagship branch in Brisbane is stuffed with Apple gadgets, touchscreens and a café.

As customers enter the branch, they are greeted by a concierge who can point them in the right direction. Commonwealth said it designed the branch so that customers didn’t just walk in and head straight for the teller queue.

Branch visitors are encouraged to explore mobile banking via docked iPod Touch and iPad devices. Touchscreen terminals include information on bank products, in-branch seminars and events as well as foreign exchange calculations. Customers can also use the touchscreens to book appointments with branch staff, something they can also do online from the comfort of home. Branch staff were also supplied with Macbook Air computers (a cross between a laptop and an iPad).

The coffee shop offers free drinks to those with appointments. For everyone else, the espresso bar is equipped with Commonwealth Bank’s contactless card technology.

Photo credits: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia

State Farm – ‘Next Door’ Community Café

Here’s State Farm’s expression of the ING Direct café strategy — with lofted ceilings and wooden rafters, sleek sofas and cool music, artisan coffee and local treats. They call it their “Next Door” experiment (as in, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”)

The space has four financial “coaches,” each equipped with a proprietary iPad app specially designed to help facilitate conversations with potential customers.

A large display on the wall reads: “Financial coaching, but in a pro-community, create-it-together, everything-is-free-except-the-coffee kind of way. Beginners welcome.”

There are the two “private coaching pods.” Coaches will move the pods aside on weekends, creating a giant wall on which they can project movies or TV shows. The pods are 2,000 pounds and on wheels, so it takes several employees to move them.

The public can reserve a large conference room with dry-erase walls and large easels any type of community meeting (provided it’s G-rated, with no alcohol).

The location’s visual centerpiece is a huge chalkboard featuring future events scheduled in the “Next Door” facility: yoga classes, open mic nights, fun runs, and financial seminars like “Too Poor to Score,” presented by Trader Joe’s on how to save money with stay-at-home cooking dates.

The location even has its own Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The Next Door location in Chicago’s Lincoln Park is the only one planned for now. State Farm calls it an “experiment” to gather information about how young people manage money.

Bank Audi – ‘Novo’ Kiosks

The Novo kiosk consists of two interactive stations and two ATMs. It also includes a private room for confidential video conferences with bank staff. The Lebanese bank says these “virtual smart kiosks” will be introduced across the country. This one is freestanding in a center stall at an indoor shopping mall.

Capitec – Cashless Concept

For its 500th branch, this South African bank rolled out a new cashless design concept. Customers are welcomed by a greeter (“Client Service Champion”), who helps register them in a digital queuing system (akin to those used at many DMV offices in the US). Once a customer’s number is called, they meet with a service representative in sit-down booths situated in the periphery.

One interesting feature of the concept is how the Capitec logo drove design decisions. The branch is actually laid out in a pattern inspired by the shapes found in the logo’s lazy “S” form — the red and blue colors, together with the central negative space. Each side represents a division: blue is for quick transactions. red for deeper level consultations and service. These are divided by the client waiting area, situated under a bright sky light.

Capitec worked with Allen International as partner on the project.

A video overview about the branch’s architectural,  operational- and design considerations.

National Bank of Canada – Flagship Hangout

The National Bank of Canada will be launching a redesigned flagship concept in Toronto later this year. The retail firm hired for the project says the goal is to create a warm and inviting space where clients and potential clients will want to come in and stay for a while to interact with staff.

“If someone comes in to have a coffee and read a book for half an hour on a rainy day, it’ll be a sign the design is working,” the design firm explained. Plans even include a fireplace for cold winters.

Inside, where there are 25-foot ceilings, there will be room for oversized visuals. A circular semi-translucent cubbyhole will provide a space to have an informal conversation.

The bank is also rolling out the red carpet — literally — for customers. A vibrant red carpet winds its way through the branch, to convey what the bank hopes is a sense of “special treatment.”

Other design features in National’s flagship include large screens to display information about the bank and its products, spaces for client meetings and customer information seminars on financial products, free WiFi, comfortable lounge seating, a free coffee and tea bar and greeters instead of security guards to guide visitors to their destination.

“As much as our customers want to deal with us at ATMs or online to get information and do routine transactions, when they make major purchasing decisions, like choosing investments or getting a mortgage, they still want to talk to someone face-to-face,” Pat Minicucci, SVP/National Bank, told Canada’s Globe & Mail.

PKO Bank – Private Banking for Euro Rich

PKO Bank, a Polish private banking firm, recently completed this new upscale concept. Concept by Robert Majkut, based on a brand identity system from White Cat Studio. The bank achieved synergies between its in-branch experience and its marketing look-and-feel by integrating the black-and-gold grid system used in the brand’s print identity.

Notice the patterns on the floor and walls; these are inspired by from the brand’s print design vocabulary. It looks expensive and exclusive — just what they were probably shooting for. It looks like the kind of bank Jason Bourne would use.

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