Nationwide unveils community-focused branch concept

Nationwide Building Society has launched a community-focused concept to revitalise local branches across the UK. This is a proactive response to its members and wider audiences’ shifts, both in behaviours and demographics, and how today's customers engage with brands. The insight-led approach ensured every creative decision was based on addressing the emotional and physical needs of Nationwide's members and those new to the brand. Nationwide worked alongside Dalziel & Pow on the new format.

Humanity, openness and connectivity are foremost in the new Nationwide spaces, which help consumers with their financial wellbeing and are sensitive to the unspoken anxiety and stress around managing money. Breaking from the often impersonal, austere feel of mainstream banks, Dalziel & Pow's concept builds on the Nationwide mission, ‘building society nationwide’. It reflects the building society’s role as a trusted membership, always doing the right thing for members, for all.

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Nationwide recognises that today’s customers want the choice and convenience to do what they want, wherever they are, at the touch of a screen. It’s belief as a building society is that while technology provides convenience, it’s Nationwide’s people who shine, which has led to the investment in future branches and the staff within them. The concept brings staff to the forefront, by removing the physical barriers of closed counters and providing more open spaces, with a choice of places to serve members.

Integrating physical and digital connections to reflect the changing banking landscape, the 4C design concept allows consumers to choose their own pace and level of interaction. The four clear service zones – Conversation, Convenience, Community and Consultation – are all designed to transform the way in which Nationwide serves communities.

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1. The Convenience zone is for members who want to do things quickly and easily, like using the cash machine or speaking to one of the team at the counters.

2. The Conversation zone is where staff are on hand for members when they need a little guidance, help with digital banking or just fancy a chat. Members and staff can engage around open service desks and a large community table at the forefront of the store. Sitting or standing side-by-side with an assistant, it’s ideal for quick conversations without the need to queue. There are also self-service points for express customer transactions, supported by clean, simple navigation.

3. The Consultation zone gives members the opportunity to speak to one of the experts in a little more privacy. For more discreet, in-depth service, either in person or using Nationwide NOW a remote face-to-face video link mortgage consultation, there are a series of private consultation pods at the back of the store in the shape of Nationwide’s iconic house logo. Alternatively, members can opt for a semi-private meeting area with sound-proofed surrounds, depending on their needs.

4. The community zone is a space to bring together the great community work that Nationwide’s brand, branches and customers take part in. Each branch features a community lounge for a variety of local activities such as talks and events. Members can also book the space to host small interest-group gatherings, read or share on the community notice board, chat to trained staff, or simply relax, read a book with a hot drink.

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The interiors have a homely, eclectic feel divergent from the ‘office’ aesthetic of traditional banks. Domestic furniture, including pieces from iconic british brands Ercol and Anglepoise – greenery and natural textured surfaces build this sense of warmth and welcome. Exposed brickwork was chosen for its symbolic value, linking back to houses and property; Nationwide provides 1 in 4 mortgages in the UK and is the UK’s highest-rated for customer satisfaction.

Radio has even been introduced to make the space livelier while offering acoustic privacy, and thoughtful touches like seating cleverly embedded into the queuing barriers, cane hooks next to the cash machines and mobile phone charging points can be found throughout.

The Nationwide manifesto is proudly written on the wall, local imagery differentiates each branch, and storytelling highlights Nationwide’s considerable heritage and expertise.

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'We understand the importance of face to face, and that's why over the next few years we're investing in our network, to upgrade our branches, ensuring we're in the right place, with the best services to meet our members' changing needs. Through this we’ll transform our brand on the high-street, creating spaces that are meaningful to our members and demonstrate our unique difference to the banks. The new 4C experience offers our members the choice and convenience to bank with us how they want to, and not only that, our colleagues are loving the flexibility of spaces too,' says Richard Newland, director of branch & workplace transformation at Nationwide.

Richard Bennett, Design Director at Dalziel & Pow, adds: 'Working closely with the Nationwide team, we’ve successfully collaborated to create a concept with people at the heart of it, that really works for Nationwide’s members. Creating an experience that revolutionises the way in which people bank, supports the local community and drives people back into their high street branch. The result is a very human experience for a very human brand.'

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