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How to turn your brand into a phrase that pays

Fred Berns

Monday, April 15, 2019

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How to turn your brand into a phrase that pays

Branding has become big business among interior design professionals as they strive to get heard above the noise and stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

There are nearly as many interior design “brands” out there as there are interior designers, but the most effective of these — the ones that create the most buzz and attract the most business — have one word in common: “Only.”

Nothing differentiates your design firm more dramatically and spells out your specialness more effectively than that word. “Only” is your million-dollar branding word, the one that can put you in a class by yourself and distinguish you as a leader in your field.

It’s powerful marketing, indeed, to point out that you are the area’s only professional with degrees in both interior design and architecture. Or the region’s only firm with 25 years’ experience designing the interiors of luxury residences. Or the owner of the state’s only showroom that carries a certain brand of motorized shades.

Is yours the area’s only design firm that specifies a certain product line? The only one that offers a particular service? The only one that has a certain client niche? Tell them what only you do, and they’ll work only with you.

Determining your “Only” brand is no easy task, but using one or more of the phrases below could make that task easier:

“Our interior design firm is the only one in this area which….

  • specializes in ____
  • offers _____ (products/services)
  • is able to/capable of _____
  • has technology that ______
  • helps clients ______
  • works with clients who _____
  • is based/located/has branches in _____
  • has a team/staff which _____
  • has been in business for _____ years
  • is affiliated/aligned with _____
  • has won awards for _____
  • has been recognized for _____
  • is known for _____
  • has been promoted in _____
  • guarantees that _____
  • is licensed/certified to _____

Once you’ve zeroed in on your “Only” brand, it won’t do you much good if you don’t promote it. For maximum marketing impact, you should incorporate your only phrase in your social media and on your website. And an “Only” statement can transform an ordinary elevator speech into an extraordinary one.

But how do you know that your “Only” branding statement is valid? How can you be sure, for example, that yours is “the only local design firm that offers exterior as well as interior design?”

Here’s where you need to do some digging to carefully scrutinize the websites, social media sites, marketing materials, and other information relating to your competitors. If, after all of that research, you feel that your “Only” statement holds up, by all means use it in all of your marketing channels.

Chances are that nobody will dispute it, but if someone does be prepared tweak it a bit. Alter it, if necessary, to read something like: “the only Cambridge-based design firm that offers exterior as well as interior design.”

It may take a while to come up with your new “Only” brand but consider it time well spent. After all, the end result is that you’ll have a slogan that will make an instant impact — and will make you and your design firm memorable.

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About the Author

Fred Berns

Fred Berns speaks to, coaches and writes promotional copy for interior design professionals worldwide. For information about his services and products, visit or contact him at or 303-589-3013.

Continue reading How to turn your brand into a phrase that pays



posted on 04/25/2018Derek Todero, Flooring Account Executive​

Commercial flooring is all too often last on the list when designing a space. Yet it can be one of the primary features of a high-impact environment that can be significantly enhanced by the right choices of colors, textures, and functionality. In fact, a case can be made that a good design should start from the floor up.

How many times have you walked into a space and had an immediate feeling or impression (good or bad)? Or have you ever been in a room and thought, “This reminds me of…”? It’s an experience that happens to all of us on a daily basis, and we need to consider what impression we’re making with the spaces we create. Whether the organization is in healthcare, corporate enterprise or startup, industrial, entertainment or education, the message and feel can be unique.

Effectively integrating commercial flooring with furniture and other elements should be one of the main priorities in designing a space. It’s amazing the impact that the appropriate choices can have.

Microsoft Theater


When walking with a client through their space, we start by asking the following fundamental questions:

  • What is the feeling or story you want to tell your customers and employees when they walk into the building or a specific room?
  • What impact would you like established for your company brand?

We also ask:

  • What do you want out of your space?
  • Who will be using it and how do you want it to be used?
  • Where do you feel your highest traffic zones will be?

Questions like these help narrow the search for the right commercial flooring solution in terms of both look and function as an integral element in the overall design.


There are several important considerations that apply to many different kinds of environments that should also be addressed up front such as floor contours and heights, use and wear patterns, damaged areas, entrances and other “protection” or transitional zones, planned use of moveable furniture and equipment, and areas exposed to water.

Issues concerning concrete floors and slabs may include uneven contours, moisture/drying and mineral leaching, as well as carefully aligning concrete flooring with glass windows and doors. Working with concrete may require leveling and a multitude of carefully selected materials and underlayments as well as moisture testing and even x-rays of the concrete.

Microsoft Theater

A fundamental issue here is to clearly anticipate change, including the unexpected. Approaching a project in a piecemeal fashion over time can end up being 4-5 times more costly. In other words, plan thoroughly and invest intelligently.

More for you: The South Pacific Collection from Lucy Tupu

Once these kinds of issues are addressed, you can begin to identify materials that provide the best solutions, including commercial flooring.


The range of potential layouts is as wide as every organization is unique. The key is to identify each area of the facility and anticipate its function and type of activity. For example, a subdued and quiet environment may be most appropriate for the accounting department, while the sales force may thrive in a more vibrant and active ambience.

In addition, the open floor plan approach is currently very popular. Yet how can we define the various boundaries of a space without cumbersome furniture or space-cramping dividers? This can be done easily by taking the opportunity to choose the right commercial flooring materials to break up the space and create clear boundaries between main traffic zones, work seating areas, cafés, or lounge-style spaces. Choosing the right materials, partnered with proper maintenance, helps ensure that the investment will hold up and the intended design will look fantastic for years to come.



  • Entrance areas, restrooms, back vs. front of house, machinery, floors/levels, resilient/luxury (LBT) surfaces
  • Sound considerations (often realized after the fact and costly to fix) like underlayments and other materials along with spacing between ceilings and floors above


  • Soundproofing in the absence of interior walls through white noise machines and noise cancelling wall panels
  • Use of color, design, pattern, and material (hard and soft) in commercial flooring to delineate functional areas and help move people in a planned fashion (known as wayfinding) through blended transitions for workflow and collaboration
  • Applying interesting patterns from standard options to soften otherwise harsh lines


  • Moisture/water, wear, equipment, safety (e.g., walking with ice skates), slip-trip areas
  • Application of logos and other artwork


  • Sanitation #1, highly regulated, easy to clean, sink/water handling, disposal of substances, antimicrobial materials
  • Managing traffic flows
  • Creating an attractive environment in a clinical setting


  • High traffic levels, safety, easy to clean and replace (not a good application for custom materials)
  • Acoustic management through “hard” surfaced yet sound absorbent construction
  • Flexible integration of power for versatile room configurations and changes (e.g. Steelcase Thread power distribution system)


Choosing the right commercial flooring solution can sometimes be difficult and tricky. Not only is it hard to determine from a small sample how it will look over hundreds or even thousands of square feet, but how do you know if you’re choosing the proper material in the first place?

Luckily, the world of commercial flooring has seen major advancements in not only function, but design as well. Today’s options are wide and varied, modern, natural, and can reflect a regional or local flavor.

Long gone are the days when the phrase “commercial flooring” was just assumed to be an ugly, boring, utility-purposed material. Today, leading designers and manufacturers of flooring for commercial spaces have created beautiful, practical, and adaptable designs across a wide range of flooring options. These range from luxury vinyl tiles and planks, broadloom carpet, or carpet tiles and planks to moisture-resistant or even waterproof materials.

Recent trends in design have moved carpet and resilient-surface manufacturers away from standard 24”x24” carpet tiles and 12”x12” VCT (vinyl composite tiles) sizes to create products in sizes of 12”x18”, 9”x36”, 12”x18”, 36”x36”, and more. These materials also come in almost endless styles from carpet tiles that look like natural stone to classic hounds-tooth woven textures. Resilient and porcelain floors that can mimic all ranges of aged woods and stained concretes can fool some of the most trained eyes.


With all of these selections available, we now have the ability to provide a unique feel, style and culture, whether it’s to bolster employee engagement or wow clients when they walk in the door. Want the look of a multi-stained herringbone concrete installation in your front lobby? Want a one-of-a-kind area rug custom designed to your exact shape and size with a pop of color to match the finish of the chairs in your conference room? Done.

In pursuit of that goal, it’s critical to choose the right source for this truly fundamental aspect of a successful commercial interior environment. Do they have the expertise, experience and strong supplier network required for the project? Do they offer a value-added perspective, as opposed to just a catalog-and-cost approach? Do they “own” the solutions they recommend? Are those solutions realistic and transparent?

Flooring is the largest canvas in a space, and it’s smart to start thinking about how it can be used to not only make the space beautiful but also deliver the highest levels of performance for the unique needs of your organization.


Derek Todero has 25 years of experience in the construction industry and serves as the main point of contact and project facilitator for Tangram Flooring clients. Derek’s primary responsibly is to create and manage productive, ongoing relationships with clients and strategic partnerships in the construction, project management and commercial real estate community. His functions include assessing and establishing project scope as well as providing quotations and pricing. He and the Tangram Flooring team work closely with project managers and contractors to provide superior customer service, project management, accounting and operations to ensure a smooth, positive experience and successful project completion. Some of Derek’s clients have included Activision, Honda, Green Dot, AEG, USC, UCI, Staples Center, Lakers, Microsoft Theater, Beverly Center and the Anaheim Ducks.

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