The Leader Magazine

SEP 2017

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18 SEPTEMBER 2017 ThE lEadER F E A T U R E A R T I C L E Anita Kamouri, Ph.D., is vice-president and co-founder of Iometrics, focusing on data-based workplace strategy innovation. Rumi Walsh is manager of real estate, facilities and administration for Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). James Lievois (not pictured) is senior vice president and chief fi nancial offi cer for Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). touchpoints and to help employees connect with the brand in different ways. Through touchpoints, the workplace can infl uence how employees sense, feel, think, act and relate to the brand (Schmitt, 1999). Optimally, the workplace touchpoints should come together to create a holistic, branded experience. When you walk into Mazda's new North American headquarters, the physical touchpoints are easy to identify. Open spaces, dramatically framed outside vistas, gathering places such as Neighborhood Hubs and an onsite café with complementary barista service help create a sophisticated yet inviting feeling consistent with the Mazda premium strategy. Japanese aesthetic philosophies inspire architectural treatments and, paired with rich and natural materials, help reinforce a uniquely valuable brand message. An additional layer of visual signage, wayfi nding cues, and navigation through the space from centralized Neighborhood Hubs to open workspace areas adds depth to the overall experience that was designed to trigger an emotional signature associated with Mazda cars' driving dynamics. Even more important than what you see in the space, however, is what you don't see. The practices, policies, and technologies are also touchpoints and are just as salient as the physical space in creating brand experience. For example, a new technology infrastructure focused on mobility provides real-time information streaming, with seamless access to data visualizations and analytics, all designed to enable quicker business insight and innovative, customer-focused thinking. Managers sitting alongside their teams, equitable allocation of space, and equal access to shared private spaces help employees, especially new hires, relate to the brand as industry-leading and forward-thinking. In addition, new fl exible work policies and full mobility enablement (onsite and off) refl ect the energy and excitement of the brand while encouraging new ways of working that are more effi cient. To foster this concept, everyone has a laptop; all spaces are fully wireless; documents are electronic; and employees have a choice of fl exible work location and schedule. Overall, Mazda's new headquarters design embodies the overall spirit and direction of the brand. While the new workplace does convey the more upscale Mazda brand, it is important to note that this is the byproduct of the goal to embed Mazda's brand values into the culture of the organization. This serves to continually remind employees of their connection to the product and customer. Delivering brand value Mazda moved from a 30-year old, traditional headquarters building to a modern, state-of-the-art LEED-Silver-certifi ed facility. Early on, there was a great deal of employee apprehension and mixed reaction to the extent of change being proposed, but there has been a complete turnaround through this journey. Early assessment of the new work environment has been overwhelmingly positive, and management expectations have been exceeded in terms of how quickly employees are adapting to a whole new way of working. In addition, with employees increasingly wanting to work for companies that share their values and lifestyle choices, this brand promotion in the workplace is already having a positive impact on recruitment and employee engagement. From a space-effi ciency perspective, the mobile work practices have given the company much needed space fl exibility to accommodate unanticipated headcount demands. Workplace strategy can play a signifi cant role in brand value. A holistic workplace strategy should offer choices that allow people to feel an emotional connection to the brand, control how and where they work, make decisions in alignment with brand intent, and behave in ways that embody the brand. As a result, you will have a stronger culture, more successful brand, and a better customer experience. References: Mosley, R.W. (2007). Customer experience, organizational culture and the employer brand. Brand Management, 15(2), 123-134. Richardson, A. Using customer journey maps to improve customer experience, Harvard Business Blog (Nov 2010); and Touchpoints bring the customer experience to life, Harvard Business Blog (Dec 2010). Schmitt, B. (1999). Experiential Marketing. Journal of Marketing Management, 15, 53-67.

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