Does your reception bring your company brand to life like Unilever’s?

I was impressed by Unilever office reception at their UK HQ in Leatherhead, Surrey, that I visited today for a meeting. I think they've done a great job of using the entrance to the building as a corporate brand building tool. This is in contrast to many company receptions that are staid and boring, with a few magazines and a glass cabinet with dusty trophies.

The rally striking thing about Unilever's reception is that the company's brands are the stars of the show. 

Here is the full size, real-life Tresemmé hair salon. Company employees can get their hair done during their lunch break, or even whilst holding a teleconference! 


Second, there is a massive Knorr Kitchen with glass windows, where you can see chefs creating food and people trying out new products and recipes. Its also used to host meetings, but ones where food and cooking are kept centre stage.


And here is the Ben & Jerry's café, serving coffee and sandwiches, but also as I understand it, free ice cream!


 I see several advantages for Unilever in this approach.

1. Employee engagement 

Instead of just saying it is passionate about its brand, like many companies, Unilever is demonstrating this passion by bringing to life some of their key brands. I guess this helps engage people working their with the brands, and deepens their understanding of them. In addition, its a nice perk to be able to get a free haircut or ice cream.  

2. Customer engagement 

Think how many of Unilever's customers sit in the reception each year. It must be a lot. And rather than getting bored flicking through an out-of-date copy of GQ or Cosmo, they can have a Ben & Jerry's ice cream or browse products in the Tresemmé salon. Even if they just sit down and wait, they are immersed in the company's brands.

3. Potential employees 

For potentail employees, the reception is their first contact with the company they are considering joining. The marketing director I met today said that the reception helped create a very positive first impression, communicating that this was a business with a great portfolio of strong brands.

In conclusion, you have to spend some money on your corporate reception. Why not invest a bit more money and use your imagination to use it as a communication channel in the way Unilever do?