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        • Space

        Transactions to interactions with ATB.

        How we captured ATB’s brand story through physical space design.

        When banking is becoming less and less somewhere you go—and more and more something you do—how do you keep 300+ branches relevant for one of Canada’s largest regional banks?

        Makespace worked with ATB Financial to reimagine the customer experience and design of their network of corporate branches and franchised agencies. As customers do increasingly more of their banking through technology, the role of a branch is changing: branches are a place to get advice, instead of perform transactions; a community venue instead of a point of service. Branches are the human face of an institution rooted in the Alberta way of life since 1938 and they reflect the communities they serve and the people who gather there.

        Our approach was centered around the notion of “breaking down the walls” of traditional banking by humanizing the experience and turning every transaction into an opportunity for conversation. 

        ATB’s corporate mission statement, “The Story,” was activated by putting the relationship between customer and staff as the central focus of each space through careful functional programming as well as by designing memorable brand experiences that transcended expectations. 

        Customers are encouraged to move through the gallery-like-spaces, from open public zones through to more private areas, in an environment of modern comfort, openness, and transparency. At the end of the journey, customers find themselves at a hotel-style focal point, greeted by someone who is more concierge than a banker; and by a compelling piece of localized artwork. 

        The ambitious mural program—described as one of Alberta’s largest ever art projects—employed local illustrators to bring the ATB Story to life.

        The brand ethos was also instilled into wayfinding, which was given new life by instilling a program that serves both the information and aspirational needs of the customer. When they enter a branch, customers need to know where to go in the physical sense, and are also looking for financial guidance on their journey to happiness. 

        Branch transformations included spatial visioning, functional programming, and aesthetic detailing with the entire rationale, process, and specifications captured in a 120-page Playbook that guides facilities staff, contractors, and architects to ensure consistency for the builds and the brand as leases churn and new projects come up. 

        As the face of a brand that has been part of the lives of Albertans for eight decades, ATB has always strived to change and grow with the needs of its customers. The transformation of ATB’s branches was an opportunity to bring the brand story to life and capture the emotion and feeling of community and connection through physical space design. Sometimes the task of building walls provides the best opportunity to also break them down.