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3 fundamental steps to crafting the ideal branch


3 fundamental steps to crafting the ideal branch

Three guidelines to help financial institutions establish a strategic presence and create engaging, customer-friendly spaces within their communities.

By Jared Monce, AIA | Design Collaborative | November 2, 2023
Fort Financial Headquarters Lobby
Fort Financial Headquarters Lobby. Photo courtesy Design Collaborative

Retail branches, as the public face for financial organizations in the community, can be on their greatest assets. Promoting brand identity, connecting with potential and existing customers, and engaging their communities—the importance of branch location and visibility cannot be overstated.

Below are three steps to crafting the ideal branch:

1. Networks

Teller Pods at bank
Courtesy Design Collaborative

One of the biggest challenges that financial institutions face is figuring out where to build a branch—or whether to reinvest in an existing branch or not. A network of branches across the community, positioned at critical points of interest, enable customers easy access to your financial institution and your services.

Through location analytics and conversations with design experts, selecting the ideal site for a new presence can be done with confidence. The same process will likely identify that many of your existing branches are already uniquely located and could benefit from a refresh.

2. Sites

Oxford Bank Branch
Oxford Bank Branch. Courtesy Design Collaborative

After identifying a new location to grow your network, individual site selection requires due diligence, and maybe just a bit of luck! What sites are on the market? Are they shovel-ready sites, or do they house an existing building? Many variables play into the availability of a key site at any given time.

A thorough review of visibility, accessibility, and buildability can help narrow the search for sites worth pursuing. The perfect site rarely exists; but identifying and weighing as many of the challenges and opportunities as you can will set the groundwork for success.

3. Layouts

ORNL North Lobby Seating
Courtesy Design Collaborative

Site selection and the due diligence process often inspires thoughts about where the branch could sit, how parking is organized around the building, or where remote ITMs could be positioned. Conceptual layouts take a birds-eye-view of the site to locate these major pieces required to make decisions about visibility, circulation, and landscape.

How your branch fits on a given site will directly impact your goals and help you establish a key node within your network. This is where the fun really begins!

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