How Branches Usher In Change

As a contributor to The Financial Brand, Sean Keathley explores ways that banks execute visual and operational shifts across their branch networks

Thursday, June 4, 2019 – No matter the size, optimizing a branch network is never an easy task. Whether a bank takes on updates to its current network or welcomes new branches via merger or acquisition, there is no more important judgment than the scope of investment a bank makes into its physical footprint. One of the biggest deciding factors is balancing how a branch looks with how it operates. In “Decision Time for Banks and Credit Unions: Optimize or Close Branches?” Adrenaline’s president and CEO Sean Keathley looks at those two central categories of improvement: visual and operational. 

In the article, Sean describes some of these components, saying “Visual enhancements include everything from interior in-branch brand components and communications to design elements like upgraded finishes and furniture.” But it’s more than what is inside the branch that impacts its appeal. Banks must also consider the updates they’ll need on the outside, as well. According to Sean, “You can’t simply place a new sign on the side of the building and call it an upgrade. After all, a consumer’s first impression happens as they approach the front door.”

As the adage goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Sean describes how banks are making the most of that first impression. He says, “Remember, consumers are judging whether a company is one they want to affiliate with based on how the branch looks from the outside. They’re also making decisions based on ‘perceived convenience’ in a market. That means when a customer sees attractive locations with smart signage, subconsciously it registers that the institution will be there for them when they need it.” Exterior branding differentiates your branch. 

With visual enhancement, the look and feel of the branch is updated. Operational modifications, on the other hand, are more wholesale shifts. Sean describes them as more expansive and expensive. He says, “Of course, this larger transformational change requires greater investment, because it combines upgrades to both visual elements and functional capabilities inside. At the operational level, the focus is on both the branch’s form and function, impacting how people use and move through the space to truly shift how the branch operates.” The result is a modern branch with an updated efficient flow. 

In our next installment on Sean’s insights into branch best practices as featured in his bylined feature in The Financial Brand, we will look at how banks are making decisions between transitional and transformational shifts. For more in-depth examples of network change, Adrenaline will be publishing an upcoming white paper on branch optimization and transformation. 

To learn more about our branch experience design services or request a copy of the forthcoming white paper, contact us at

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