Community financial institution’s Jonesboro branch demonstrates the vision for just how banking in Arkansas is “Better Together”
For the last 100 years, FNBC has been serving Arkansas communities with their distinctive blend of diligence and passion. With belief that community banking can be a powerful catalyst for local communities and their people, the bank’s success is rooted in its heart for service and love for everything local. In late 2019, the Ash Flat headquartered financial institution began looking for ways to reach more places in Northern Arkansas with their unique brand of banking and an opportunity to move into neighboring Jonesboro was just the ticket.
What they built was a flagship branch that was home for dynamic banking in a distinctive environment that demonstrates their values and distinguishes their brand. With a goal of reaching a newer, younger demographic just beginning their banking relationships while also serving the financial needs of more traditional customers coming to the branch, Jonesboro is a prototype for FNBC’s future. The branch highlights a customer journey that maximizes the one-on-one relationship the bank is known for and serves as a beacon to recruit talent for the next generation.
Working with Adrenaline, FNBC benefited from a robust experience planning session normally deployed by larger financial institutions to define their optimal customer journey in the new branch environment. The Jonesboro project was realized through ground up, turnkey construction with a new retail design that featured branded audio; a kit of parts for future prototype branches to deploy; an onsite standalone ITM that is staffed remotely; and outdoor signage pre-wired for future digital deployments.
As one of the original occupants in a multi-tenant location, FNBC was the first to face unique challenges with developing the site in preparation for construction, so they leaned heavily on Adrenaline for our proficiency to get the site construction ready. While there were some delays due to water retention planning and negotiations with the landlord, the creative solution provided by Adrenaline’s team of construction experts provided a significant cost savings to the client. Despite site delays and COVID sourcing issues, the team was able to maintain a consistent project schedule and use FNBC’s preferred local contractors for the construction and furnishings in the interior.
Primarily a commercial bank focused on small businesses, FNBC wanted to leverage the Jonesboro branch to develop the retail market around them. With a subdivided design, the floorplan reflects this approach – with a corridor dedicated to small business consultations and upfront retail that lives up to the “Better Together” brand motto. With a deep community commitment, the branch floorplan with its open lounge and generous hospitality suite also reflects FNBC’s desire to create a local gathering spot for people.
Stepping inside, the original design idea is that the branch unfolds as if the building is layered. The journey starts with a large invitational box at the entrance and into the lobby area, and then as the customer and staff build relationships inside, those spaces become a little bit cozier as interactions develop into conversations. Leaning into the idea of collaboration at the heart of FNBC’s relationship banking approach, the engaging interior features orchestrated host seating set in a collaborative configuration.
The conceptual underpinning of the branch design was an outgrowth of the bank’s brand positioning. FNBC had identified their core purpose as “empowering community one customer at a time” and how that is demonstrated is through the brand principle that encourages customers to “pull up a chair.” Banishing the legacy teller line that separates bankers and customers, the new design provides teller a pod to bring people together, to come in and have a conversation and ample space to take conversations into more private, consultative areas.
Also critical to successful space was adequate back of house functionality for staff, including a lounge and café seating, individual lockers and a full kitchen setup for the bank’s family-style holiday gatherings and celebrations. The design also accounted for additional future office space opportunities for growth if FNBC wanted to add square footage to the branch as they expand their footprint in Jonesboro.
With competition at a premium in a vibrant, growing city like Jonesboro, FNBC is up against 20 other financial institutions in the area, so making a mark in the market means doing something special to stand out. Challenging banks that have much bigger budgets and mini-mansion branches, FNBC leaned heavily on design as a differentiator. With a soaring façade and inspiring exterior elevations, the branch comes across as a much more striking multilevel building than the 5,500 square feet would typically suggest. Showing that one doesn’t need colossal scale, FNBC proves how the branch can be very inviting through smart design.
As brand experience specialists, much of Adrenaline’s work is often on display on the inside of the branch through a cohesive customer journey. With FNBC Jonesboro, the design elements are just as evident on the outside of the branch through a dynamic experience accessible from all angles, at all times. With custom signage components and refined specialty finishes on the exterior, the signature FNBC brand experience is achieved in the interior and elevated on the exterior. The soaring design results in a branch rightfully owning its place in Jonesboro.
Following experience planning sessions, the role, functionality and placement of the ITM was one of the main determinations for the schematics of the Jonesboro site. As a new format for FNBC, the standalone ITM would be a powerful extension of their brand presence in the market. Further, the remote functionality detethered from the building appealed to the bank as a key efficiency driver, allowing them to free the bank of cash drawers and VAT tubes and needing to staff a drive-up window, and instead empower local branch staff who could, in turn, focus their efforts on relationship building inside the branch. The first non-replacement ITM the bank has deployed anywhere, the format’s efficiency, technology and brand presence further marks FNBC’s place in the market.
FNBC for the Future
Using a strategic session kicking off the project, this true community bank was able to capitalize on Adrenaline’s vast experience in planning experiences across much larger branch networks. It’s a success story for how a brand experience company’s turnkey services and best practices at the branch can support and serve community sized institutions. With the dynamic and branded exterior and interior, the Jonesboro location represents FNBC’s signature brand with a branch that makes its impression. Armed with a powerful prototype branch design that can be scaled up or down, FNBC is now ready to make similar investments with additional locations as they expand.