Creating Space for Brand

With more than 50 retail locations across Washington state and growing, BECU is a vital place for members to handle their banking in person, make a connection with member consultants or simply to engage with one another. Phinney Bischoff has been serving BECU’s retail needs for over a decade, from environmental design for new locations to ongoing communication needs.

When it was time to update the overall look and feel of BECU’s retail spaces to reflect the new brand identity, we created an engaging, differentiated member experience across all retail spaces, including their six-story cooperative headquarters, that reinforced and elevated the BECU brand. We are excited for our future collaboration as BECU continues its expansion in the Northwest.

Research Driven Design

Tukwila Financial Center (TFC) is BECU’s cooperative headquarters and flagship retail space. We were engaged to develop and execute the entire brand expression for both the interior and exterior, as well as employee spaces. Our goal was to create an environment that is not only about financial transactions, but that inspires possibilities.

We started with research. This included intercept interviews with TFC visitors to understand how members used the spaces, which services they found helpful, and their unique needs for the environment. We then developed a comprehensive Visitor Journey Map which ensured that targeted personas, including employees and corporate partners, were being considered in every aspect of the floorplans and overall experience.

We also created a unifying theme for the space, “IMAGINE,” and a corresponding inspirational statement that served as a springboard for the design work to come.

TFC Cooperative Headquarters

We modernized nearly every touchpoint in BECU’s six-story headquarters, from retail impression walls, waiting areas and wayfinding, to the teller line and drive-through ATM experience. Employee workspaces were reinvented to highlight and reinforce BECU values in a memorable way.

Extending the Brand to NFCs

As an extension of the TFC remodel and the new brand identity, BECU began the process to update the design of its newest Neighborhood Financial Center (NFC) locations and undergo a rolling retrofit of existing locations.

We began by reflecting on our many years of retail research for BECU. This work spanned a number of methods, from intercept interviews to paper surveys and observation, with special focus on how and why members use the space, key regional differences between locations, and the impact of various messaging approaches.

NFC Member Experience

Using insights from the research and BECU’s brand platform and essence of Member-Inspired as the foundation, we created an inviting, human-centered experience—an experience free from messaging clutter, with clear wayfinding and eye-catching installations featuring meaningful and real member photos.

The messaging, design and fabrication of almost every element of each center, from retail impression walls, ATM vestibules, waiting areas, wayfinding, and even back-of-house were re-imagined. This required identifying new fabrication methods, developing new content, and sourcing photographs from the community to support messaging. 

We believe that a strong, vibrant retail experience exists beyond the four walls. This meant that we wanted members to feel warm, welcomed and safe, whether engaging with BECU from 30′ or 3′ away. For exterior signage, our exploration considered various signage types and sizes, common landlord criteria, daytime and nighttime sight lines, and how well each option would stand out from nearby competitors. Working with a custom fabricator, we designed and produced samples using different lighting options and materials, staying involved all the way through to installation.

The total redesign of the BECU ATM experience included drive-up kiosks, through-the-wall units and store-based cash machines. After creating several design options, we worked with BECU’s fabrication vendor to turn our designs into reality, including in-person prototyping, lighting tests and installation walk-throughs.

Downtown Seattle Flagship Center

When BECU decided to open another flagship location in the heart of downtown Seattle, we were again consulted to create an engaging and inspiring brand experience. Building on our designs for the Tukwila headquarters and the NFCs, we played an integral role in planning the two-story layout, designing and producing new and inspiring touchpoints, including custom illustrations, and working with the BECU team on prototypes and fabrication. In addition, we developed unique digital experiences highlighting BECU’s steadfast commitment to the community.

Phinney Bischoff is honored to have been part of BECU’s journey and evolution over the last 12 years. We are thrilled to continue our partnership as the new brand takes hold in Puget Sound and beyond.