Kaitlyn Dwenger University of Cincinnati Professional Writing Major Class of 2020
View the open position for Marketing Co-op (Spring 2020) here.
Q: How has your co-op experience at BHDP benefitted your education or advanced your skillset?
My co-op experience at BHDP was everything I had hoped for–and I can assure you, that is my true and honest opinion! I knew this summer would be a good experience, but I had no idea the amount that I would learn in such a short amount of time. I have grown my writing and editing skills, but I also gained experience with graphic design, video editing, and business development. I was able to touch parts of the proposal writing process and felt as though I was an integral part of the marketing department. I wasn’t just a “co-op,” I was a team member. It was awesome.
Q: What was your favorite part of working at BHDP in our marketing department?
BHDP’s marketing department is made up of some awesome people that I had the pleasure of getting to know throughout this semester. What’s great about the department is that everyone has their strengths and they work together to get the job done. They are a group of collaborative, hard-working individuals who all took me under their wing to teach me something new. That had to be my favorite part.
Q: Did you have a favorite project that you worked on?
Honestly, I really enjoyed getting to learn more about video editing. It’s especially cool to get hands-on experience in a position and learn something I might not have had the opportunity to learn elsewhere.
Q: Did you feel like you were able to explore different areas of marketing? Did you enjoy or learn from one part in particular?
Absolutely. This internship was great because my mentor, Deidre, was more than willing to get me hands-on experience in whatever area I wanted. Of course, there were some weekly tasks I oversaw, but a lot of my projects were tailored to my interests. I really enjoy social media, so this semester I was able to create a lot of our content and create a calendar that helped organize our posts.
Q: What advice do you have for BHDP’s future marketing co-ops?
Dive in! Don’t be afraid to speak up and get involved in everything. Obviously, don’t overwhelm yourself, but if you have an interest and haven’t gotten to explore it, volunteer to help or ask to attend meetings. The marketing team is very busy, but if you want to see how something is done or want to help them, they are more than willing to integrate you into the project.
See the careers page if you’re interested in learning more about co-op opportunities at BHDP.
Experiential graphic design (EGD) is the vehicle for communicating the intangible, value-generating factors that drive a company’s business goals. These qualitative factors within a workplace cannot be easily itemized. However, they are infused in its culture and contribute to its vision and success.
EGD’s primary purpose is to create an emotive experience that elevates a company’s culture, brand, and engagement with its mission. The appearance of permanence reinforces commitment to the message that is being shared. This adds weight to more ephemeral publications, published online or in print. EGD captures an overarching narrative and brings the story forward from an abstract concept to something that can be physically and intellectually explored.
EGD is “on brand,” while at the same time, it is not branded to the point where
it becomes mundane or redundant. In a workplace environment, for instance,
overuse of a logo throughout can feel out of touch or even oppressive in
relation to the individuals experiencing the space. EGD must strike the fine
balance between reinforcing a curated, high-level message and encouraging
risk-taking and creativity of individuals and teams.
BHDP, we understand that brands have more depth beyond their visual appearance.
We look beyond the idea of typical signage to reinforce your what and why,
stimulate team building, and encourage key behaviors. Through our discovery
process, we take a deep dive into a company’s culture to unearth the narratives
that resonate with specific audiences. The Harvard Business Review defines
culture as an ecosystem.
“The elements of culture interact with and reinforce one another […] A great culture is not easy to build — it’s why high performing cultures are such a powerful competitive advantage. […] More and more organizations are beginning to realize that culture can’t be left to chance. Leaders have to treat culture building as an engineering discipline, not a magical one.” 
We place company culture at the forefront of our design process. We not only explore the look and feel of the graphic content as it relates to interiors and architecture, but we work to unearth the stories with which people identify. We value partnerships where our clients are willing to explore beneath the surface of their institution to share the processes, milestones, and aspirations that are so intrinsic that they are sometimes lost. We want you to teach us the intricacies of manufacturing, higher education, and healthcare so we can forge stronger connections between your organizational narrative, your employees, your clients, your leadership, and your vision for the future.
result of successfully implemented experiential graphic design can be seen in
the numbers. BHDP’s strategic processes result in improved recruitment and
retainment. We impact productivity by fostering positive work environments and
social connections . We shape employee motivation by celebrating
workplace culture through encouragement of play, purpose, processes and
potential . We build spaces where employee growth and innovation is
reinforced and realized. BHDP’s EGD team makes visible human investment by elevating
the stories of people, their life’s work, and their collective vision to the
forefront of its culture.
MANAGING PEOPLE Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive by Emma Seppälä and Kim Cameron DECEMBER 01, 2015
ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE How Company Culture Shapes Employee Motivation by Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi NOVEMBER 25, 2015
Stop thinking about millennials when designing your workplace. Here’s what to think about instead.
By T. Patrick Donnelly
Research shows flexible workplaces that follow a lifespan of your employees are more important.
All too often, executives look at their office design and workplace environment with a narrow focus. Millennials. Millennials. Millennials.
They will be the next generation of workers when boomers retire, right? They will be the ones that will drive your growth, and they think differently than previous cohorts of employees. Indeed, by 2020, they will account for half of the workforce.
But designing your office around their present day needs is short-sighted.
Look beyond the gourmet cafeterias and free massages, the giant slides and foosball tables. While these design ideas can aid in recruiting, retaining, engaging, and empowering your employees, they emphasize younger workers.
Demographers like to uncover, classify, and name groups: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials. It’s what they do. But it’s not what corporate real estate, human resources, and workplace designers do. We deal with living, breathing, changing organisms called organizations—made up of all kinds of individuals, juggling all kinds of life events, needs, and desires.
A generational focus can obscure the fact that employees have lives, and life experiences influence how people engage at work. The “perfect” workplace would understand this and be able to recognize, via sensors and other technology, how employees are interacting with their environment. The workplace will then evolve to meet employee needs in close-to real time.
We’re not there yet.
A life stage approach
But we do know that employees at certain stages of life have typical requirements and expectations of work, and face predictable work and life challenges. Some of the more obvious are single employees who want ways to socialize at and after work, or new mothers who have specific needs such as mother’s rooms. And, these life stages do not necessarily align with arbitrary generational groupings.
It’s also important to remember that life stages don’t have to be a linear progression. As Merck & Co.’s workplace strategist Adrienne Rowe points out, some parents of grown children may have grandchildren living in the home. They may have the needs of older employees closing in on retirement as well as a young family. The challenge for a truly successful life stage approach to workplace design is dedicating the necessary resources to identify and understand the typical life stages that exist uniquely in each organization.
So what does that mean for workplace design?
If we focus on employees according to their life stages, not their generations, what are the consequences for workplace design? First, flexibility and choice move to the forefront. Environmental versatility is key if you’re trying to create spaces that engage and empower people who are focused on everything from self-definition to balancing commitments (work, family, community) to workplace stability.
Versatility doesn’t just mean providing different types of workstations and meeting spaces with various furniture configurations. It’s a business strategy that must be integrated across human resources, information technology, and operations.
Still, no matter how much we stress the importance of thinking about life stages, millennials will still be a concern for my clients. Yet my firm and the University of Cincinnati conducted research to characterize millennials, and what struck us most was not how different they are from previous generations of young people entering the workforce but how similar they are. They seek fulfillment at work, connection to a greater good, and a sense of community and collaboration, just as their parents did at that stage in life. Millennials may be more passionate and outspoken about these values, but that’s a difference of quantity, not of kind.
As Merck’s Rowe says, “With respect to designing spaces and amenities in the workplace, we observe that most individuals have the same essential priorities. They want places to collaborate, focus and socialize with colleagues. Flexibility and autonomy are universally important. Everyone loves an airy, naturally lit environment. They all want to learn, adapt and perform their best work.”
Best strategies for investing in workplace design
Generational definitions can get in the way of this commonality. Our research backs this up, showing how your smartest investment will be to create strategies and environments that do the following:
First, meet the full spectrum of employees’ needs across all generations and life stages. That means everyone—from the young singles craving opportunities to socialize and collaborate and the middle-aged workers balancing family and maturing careers, to the elder knowledge-bearers with an eye on retirement.
Second, honor core human desires, such as having a strong purpose, clear goals and meaningful work. This means acknowledging and promoting specific talents and rewarding performance, not just long hours at a desk.
Third, make sure your workplace evolves over time, just as workers’ professional and personal lives evolve. Plan for singles who crave socializing, for the new nursing mothers, and for the seniors who value mentorship.
I often caution my clients at BHDP Architecture to worry less about gourmet cafeterias, in-house massages and design-your-own workstations. Because what truly matters most to workers is universal, no matter the generation.
Innovation is the lifeline of every growth strategy. So much has been written about the subject that broaching it is likely to elicit an apathetic response; e.g. “we’ve heard it all before.” Yet amid all the theories and philosophies espoused as keys to innovation, one that deserves more exploration is the space where creative thinking takes place. And, this topic is not just about another office.
Organizational culture and an environment that encourages a flourishing of creativity are essential for every company, be it a start-up or established, if the goal is to lead by innovation. Every effort to brand itself in that manner involves elements of risk. In this context, the focus needs to be on the environment where risk can be measured without jeopardizing creative instincts.
Start with organizational culture. Companies, particularly long-established ones, usually operate in a default position with a traditional hierarchy that includes levels of upper and middle management. Such systems tend to foster risk-averse attitudes at the highest levels and a dismissive value of new thinking that comes from the lower levels of the hierarchy. Innovation is encouraged, but only if the risk is minimal. Start-ups and high growth ventures justifiably scoff at such restraints, but that does not eliminate their responsibility to measure and mitigate risk.
What does the space in which creative thinking takes place have to do with the holy grail of innovation? Consider the role of the non-traditional environment, the birthplace of successful start-ups. The classic example is Amazon, which began in a garage in 1994. While most young or high growth-oriented companies are not likely to become the next Amazon, they need to understand that innovation is fundamental to whatever success they may achieve. Obviously, non-traditional thinking is necessary for innovation and the same is true for the space where it occurs.
Reinventing the workplace environment
Creativity is stifled in a risk-averse environment, usually in companies that cannot get past memories of failed efforts and apparently, in their view, unacceptable costs. What is needed is a different thought process and the space to encourage it. Here is where design intersects with culture in its ability to create space that generates divergent thinking. Traditional office spaces are sources of distraction and are often antithetical to creative thinking. An environment in which teams recognize and exercise the freedom to think differently is vital for fostering an innovative culture. Consider it an innovation zone that can be located within a company campus or far from it.
In the innovation zone, teams need to be free of unwanted interruptions and focused on creative problem-solving. The classic example is the legendary Lockheed Skunk Works where a small, brilliant engineering team created American’s first jet fighter aircraft, the XP-80, during World War II. According to historical accounts, the team, though located at the Lockheed facility in Burbank, Calif., functioned in a closed area inaccessible to non-team members and separated from the traditional business culture. Two decades later, the Skunk Works team produced the SR 71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft.
Today’s innovation zones, unlike the Skunk Works, do not have to be focused on one big idea. Usually, it’s the small steps that tend to yield greater results long-term. However, those in that particular space have to function as a team. One model is the scrum, a rugby term in which players lock arms to move the ball forward. In this case, scrum is applied to a software development team working on a new app. The team is divided into smaller segments that work within a very limited time frame, perhaps two weeks. Under the oversight of a scrum master, the team reassembles, reviews its progress and adjusts accordingly. It should be emphasized that despite all the expertise in creativity and innovation, nothing absolves the team and its leaders from risk management responsibility.
Short time increments are
necessitated by today’s rapid pace of technological change and its likely
impact on the app’s future in the marketplace. Much like the military’s rapid
response team, the scrum should consist of members with wide-ranging skill sets
who are adaptable to changing developments in the industry.
The idea is to create a workspace conducive to innovative thinking and free of the perhaps the biggest impediment to creativity: fear of failure. It is not hyperbole to emphasize the importance of creating critical space where design, flexibility for rapid response and a culture that thrives on both intersects. Such space may well be the determining factor of the innovative potential of the enterprise and its future.
Customer amenities are the memorable extra steps that a retailer takes to understand and deliver on the needs of each guest. If done right, they bring true moments of surprise and delight.
Grocery: It’s long been as basic as baggers offering to load groceries into a shopper’s car. Grocers have also successfully added other amenities over the years, including sampling stations, wine tastings, cafés and seating. In-store technologies such as ordering kiosks in the deli have also reduced wait times.
Department stores: Mirrors on every column and tester bottles in cosmetics are a given in most department stores. Restaurants and cafés have started to make their way back into the stores as well. The key amenity for all guests is a clean and well-lit fitting room that provides a sense of security and an organized wall system to compare clothing options.
Advice: With grocery stores adding more apparel, there’s a role for a better fitting room experience. And as beauty products become more standard, adding testers and mirrors will let shoppers know they’re making the right choices.
Aiming to outwit new competitors, the largest grocery chains are already investing in technological innovations like curbside pickup, automatic checkout, and delivery services to provide better service to customers and simplify the shopping experience. But as they evolve with this focus on technology, they should not overlook the many easy and relatively low-cost physical tweaks that can be made in stores to incorporate the best of the long successful run once enjoyed by department stores.
This is the Tenth and final Lesson of “Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores.” To view all ten lessons in their entirety, check out our full white paper HERE.
Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores: Lesson Nine—Services
While physical stores can no longer compete with online retail for sheer product selection, the face-to-face conversations with experts and the services they provide are the greatest differentiator for brick-and-mortar retail. Whether the tailor or butcher, the personal connection builds a level of trust. As grocers adopt more of the traditional department store categories, what services will migrate over as well?
Grocery: Many grocers began as the local butcher or neighborhood produce wagon, embracing the importance of community and family. Today, each grocer must find a balance between services and the commodities in the center of the store. Innovations in recent years have included adding clinics, catering, delivery, and curbside pick-up.
Department stores: Historically, department stores differentiated themselves by their specialty services and category expertise. Although they have ceded some of this space to competitors, they still offer beauty consultants, tailors, and personal shoppers and are successfully adopting in-store pick-up and recommitting to cross-training sales staff.
Advice: As grocers continue to expand their beauty and personal care sections, adding consulting services may be the next logical step. For food, what about party planning in addition to the already popular catering services? Understanding customer needs and what the competition is doing will greatly influence what services to add and their impact on grocers’ business models.
This is Lesson Nine of “Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores.” Make sure to check out Lessons One, Two, Three, Four,Five, Six, Seven, and Eight if you haven’t already.
Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores: Lesson Eight—Check-Outs
The last major touchpoint for the guest experience is at check-out, where a problem-free, positive cashier experience can reinforce the brand for a consumer.
Grocery: It’s taken more than 30 years for just one-third of grocery shoppers to adopt self-checkout kiosks. Now technology is being tested for automatic checkout that would eliminate the need for long, regimented lines of registers and cashiers.
Department stores: More than 30 years ago, stores seeking staffing efficiencies began phasing out multiple departmental registers in favor of centralized wrap stations, but that also reduced the perception of individual service and category expertise.
Advice: Maintain a variety of ways to check guests out without reducing the perception of service, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution for how individuals want to check out. Certainly, younger shoppers are more likely to adopt new technology, but it’s important to maintain traditional check-out methods for older guests.
This is Lesson Eight of “Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores.” Make sure to check out Lessons One, Two, Three, Four,Five, Six, and Seven if you haven’t already.
Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores: Lesson Seven—Planning
For most retailers, merchants wield a lot of power, battling over every square and linear foot of space for their department. It’s usually the last department merchant to touch the plan that gets everything they want. To make the customer journey work, the layout of each category and service needs to not only make business sense but also needs to be intuitive for guests as they walk through the store.
Grocery: At most supermarkets, there’s no evidence of a journey, as there’s little obvious connection between the coolers and their back-end requirements, the perimeter-focused service offerings, and then the center store aisles with their endcaps supported by co-op dollars and major brands staking out sections of gondola runs.
Department stores: Traditional department stores feature a center core with high-margin businesses on an axis to the main entrance, then the women’s shoe department stretching to the next area. The biggest decision has historically been whether to put the men’s department on the first floor or relegate it to the second level with the children’s department and intimate apparel.
Advice: As grocery stores continue to expand into apparel, beauty and accessories, at what point should there be a high-margin center core experience? Also, with the link between customer behavior and sales becoming better understood, there is now a role for technology in determining the most efficient and productive layouts.
This is Lesson Seven of “Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores.” Make sure to check out Lessons One, Two, Three, Four,Five, and Six if you haven’t already.
Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores: Lesson Six—Customer Journey
The customer journey is the intended story that unfolds as guests walk around and experience the store. This starts with the view from the street and the entrance, then continues with how they walk through the store, pay for their purchases and exit. It’s everything guests see and touch along the defined path, where each aisle creates vistas and focal points that draw guests to the next stage of their journey.
Grocery: An engaging journey is virtually impossible because of the walls of continuous cold cases and promotional endcaps that create vistas more than 100 feet long with few, if any, focal points. Guests shop the never-ending outside perimeter and must memorize the maze of gondolas in the center of the store. They’re left on their own to create “journeys” based merely on their shopping needs.
Department stores: Main entrances feature high volume/margin products, then guests traverse a series of rooms/departments. The rooms limit sightlines to a 30- to 40-foot vista, allowing a story to be created for each department. Aisles lead in the four compass directions from one room to the other, encouraging guests to wander, browse and discover more offerings.
Advice: Identify the intended customer journey for each guest profile and how the story of your brand should unfold. Does the aisle vista lead to a set of stock doors, or is it purposefully centered on a service offering, featured promotion or brand? Plan the cadence of messages around key moments of pause and physical touchpoints. Add surprise and delight by breaking up the long center store runs. What if the wine tasting or demo kitchen was in the center? A great story is memorable.
This is Lesson Six of “Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores.” Make sure to check out Lessons One, Two, Three, Four, and Five if you haven’t already.
Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores: Lesson Five—Graphics and Signage
At its core, wayfinding graphics are meant to help guests easily navigate around stores. It’s critical that there be a graphic hierarchy for key brand messages, departments, classifications, promotions, pricing, and policy. Technology and “branded architecture” also plays an important role.
Grocery: Differentiated department signage is king, as the signage stretches from the top of cases to the underside of the ceiling and runs from one end of the area to the other. Each graphic typically has separate themes with different colors, unrelated patterns, imagery, and fonts. Aisles are marked with classifications but then confused with multiple layers of promotions, sub-classifications, and pricing.
Department stores: Their two-tiered approach to wayfinding includes brand signage at the highest levels then pricing and product information at the merchandise level. Temporary promotional and seasonal graphics have their home at cross aisles, on displays, and atop cosmetic back islands.
Advice: Try this simple test. Take a photo of a typical grocery department and make a horizontal mark at the bottom of the page for each sign or message. If the marks create a nearly continuous line, you are asking the guest to absorb too many messages. There should also be no more than five vertical information points. Guests will appreciate a simplified and consistent graphics hierarchy in which where every message has a place.
This is Lesson Five of “Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores.” Make sure to check out Parts One, Two, Three, and Four if you haven’t already.