The Evolution of Branch Design

Category: News • January 9, 2024

There was a time when banks were built to look and feel like fortresses, often constructed of thick stone and granite with massive vaults meant to house large quantities of cash and valuables. Customers trusted these banks to safeguard everything from jewelry to legal documents. Each building contained upwards of 10 to 12 teller lines that were fully staffed at all times to handle a steady flow of deposits and withdrawals. Very little attention was paid to the interior design or furnishings within the space and most banks maintained an almost intentionally cold, impersonal aesthetic.

This model held true for many decades until the computer age took hold and drastically changed the methods by which we exchange currency. In a relatively short span of time almost every aspect of traditional banking practices changed. Suddenly consumers had options in the form of debit cards and direct deposit. In-person cash transactions quickly became a thing of the past as ATM machines replaced most of the teller lines and a self-serve era emerged. Banks had to adapt to this changing landscape and establish a new purpose. It became clear that the foundation of their services would need to be more consultative and educational, with a greater emphasis on retail communications. This transition meant reducing the number of low-skill employees they kept on staff and replacing them with more highly trained and qualified banking professionals.

As their staffing requirements and service models became more streamlined, banks no longer needed the immense 5,000 square foot facilities that they had occupied in the past. The velvet-roped teller lines that once dominated their lobbies were replaced with small private offices and conference rooms where customers could inquire about personal loans, mortgages and retirement plans. Rather than being confined to their teller stations, bank staff were now greeting customers in lounge-style lobbies equipped with coffee stations and flat screen televisions. Banks began to focus on building personal connections with their customers by creating comfortable spaces for them to engage and learn.

The advanced technological experiences that young people have grown accustomed to in today’s schools and universities have led to very high expectations. Financial institutions must rise to each new challenge if they are to retain their relevancy with this generation. Institutions that keep up with the latest trends in banking and retail space design are more likely to attract and secure the savvy customers they want and the knowledgeable employees they need. This is where the Solidus team steps in to provide our expertise in the area of data driven branch design. We keep our fingers on the pulse and our eyes on the future.