I-AM and CYBG team to create the ultimate social learning environment in Manchester

Leading London-based international branding and interior design agency I-AM have worked closely with Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank’s digital banking service ‘B’ to design B-Works in Manchester.

B-Works – which opened on Monday 14 January – is a three-storey retail and SME lending space on the busy Market Street in the heart of the city unlike any other. Offering a place for local consumers and SMEs to learn, work, bank (and exercise) as well as a wide range of free in-house facilities, B Works is preparing to transform the high street banking experience and re-establish the physical relationship between a bank and its customers.

I-AM worked with B to transform the traditional in-branch experience into an innovative and inspiring journey. Along with a flexible co-working space featuring meeting rooms, hot desks, long term desks, training programmes and an open event zone, it also includes a showcase area for the B Works Partner programme.

B – which is powered by Yorkshire Bank – challenged the design agency to design an innovative destination with an energetic and inviting environment, where customers can receive expert financial advice, training programmes including social media courses.

The project began with a workshop to understand B’s vision, positioning it as a brand that balances the needs of its clienteles’ businesses and lifestyles. I-AM asked themselves how a bank might look if it was designed by a high street brand like Urban Outfitters. Together they established the concept B Works, which formed a new type of banking environment with a financial lifestyle space inspired by the notion of ‘Learn. Work. Bank.’

Helen Page, B’s Group Innovation and Marketing Director, said: “The role of the bank is changing, and the reality is that more customers are choosing to bank digitally. We need to continually reimagine what we offer to customers across our channels to ensure we remain relevant – B Works revolutionises that in-store experience.”

Jon Blakeney, I-AM Group Managing Director, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to work alongside the team from CYBG. I think between us, we’ve created something very special for Manchester and in the long-term laid down a marker for the future of high street banking.”

‘B WORKS’ is a shared environment that facilitates communal learning, working and banking, where new ideas can be generated and shared. From this basis, the agency developed a contemporary and familiar-feeling branch, designed with the customer’s experience in mind – with a variety of amenities not typically associated with the banking experience that aimed to inspire customer interaction.

They designed a flexible and multi-purpose space, which drives engagement and initiates socialising through interactive events and activities. This includes a number of hospitality areas, such as a café with a multifunctional bar with banking staff to help customers with their financial inquiries, all within a friendly and informal setting.

The environment I-AM created also motivates customers to explore new opportunities across multiple platforms. Along with event spaces that can be used for social learning and entertainment, it includes a retail exhibition space that will launch in partnership with a global fashion brand, introducing a new and fresh feature to the banking environment, and showcasing the ways in which B bank can assist with local business growth.

A bank not as you know it, but a new type of banking environment; a financial lifestyle space, that inspires forward thinking. This latest site also has a large and sophisticated co-working space, with semi-private meeting areas and shared wall spaces, allowing business and entrepreneurs to collaborate and network.

The interior configurations bring the idea of Learn Work Bank to life and are accompanied by a modern tone of voice, a distinctive colour palette and branding that embraces a confident and relatable aesthetic. This warm, open look and feel that is the new Manchester site evolves the B brand, by differentiating them as more than just a bank, but rather a place where customers can collaborate, learn and create when it comes to their own financial lifestyle.

David Judic, Head of Retail Marketing at B, said: “B Works is a hugely important step in re-imagining not only what a bank can offer to a community but also how it can look and feel. The design of B Works was paramount – we needed to ensure it would be a space which would work for small businesses and consumers alike, one which would foster creativity and co-working while being flexible, welcoming and practical and I think we’ve achieved that in spades.”

Source: I-AM

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