Curb appeal: Differentiate your business–and the “user experience”–with landscaping

Customized landscaping that creates welcoming outdoor spaces can elevate a business's brand and leave a positive impression on the customer or employee. / Photo: Courtesy of J.W. Townsend Customized landscaping that creates welcoming outdoor spaces can elevate a business’s brand and leave a positive impression on the customer or employee. / Photo: Courtesy of J.W. Townsend

As a business, you don’t have to limit your branding to the design of your website, or the packaging of your product, or the logo on your delivery van.

After you’ve enticed a customer with a benefit-promising commercial or meticulously curated Instagram aesthetic, and it’s time for them to actually pay a visit to your place of business, why wouldn’t you extend your branding further–with a visually enticing exterior?

It’s the exterior that makes the true first impression, beckoning customers to spend their time at–and money on–a biz that has thought about the holistic user experience, inside and out.

Local landscape and fine gardening specialists J.W. Townsend Landscapes demonstrate how businesses can enhance their branding by creating tailored, inviting outdoor spaces and experiences where customers or employees want to stay a while longer. At the CFA Institute (the former Martha Jefferson Hospital site), for example, the landscape company transformed a new employee entrance from something that was “stark”–lots of metal, cement, brick, and glass—into a more welcome-to-work space, says Townsend employee Avery Ellis.

“There wasn’t a lot of color [or] a lot of greenery, even though the rest of their landscape was really nice,” adds Ellis, who is “hotpots team leader” at the company. J.W. Townsend installed several planters–a.k.a. hotpots–lining the walkway to soften the hard edges, filling them with a bright assortment of spider flowers, annual salvia, and vinca. “It made a big difference to how the overall building looks,” she says.

Ellis says dressing up the outside of their building wasn’t something the CFA did to attract more clients or customers­—they did it so their employees would feel more welcome. Those thoughtful garden features communicate a message–that ”this is a good place to spend your time eight hours a day.”

Last spring, J.W. Townsend also helped Downtown Mall hang spot Common House create a “summer jungle vibes” theme on its rooftop–essentially, an extension in plant form of the social club’s overall brand as a stylish community gathering space. And they brightened up Tiger Fuel’s gas station markets with flower containers. “It’s amazing the difference that just a couple of containers full of flowers next to the door makes. It makes you feel like this is a safe place. This is a clean place. This is a place where I want to go and spend my money,” says Ellis.

At Albemarle Dermatology Associates, the landscape company installed lush, multi-tiered potted plants full of curvaceous begonias, purslane, vinca, climbing mandevilla vine, and euphorbia at the entrance–creating a peaceful, cared-for vibe for patients.

When The Shops at Stonefield wanted to communicate to guests that they were a local shopping destination, Ellis’ team helped send that brand message with splashy container gardens. “We tried to kind of blow them out almost and make them really full and a showstopper,” she says. “It goes a long way on a bald, cement sidewalk to line it with planters.”

Well-designed  landscaping and garden features not only show appreciation to your employees, they invite customers to hang out a little longer, buy another drink, take another spin around the shop, or make a repeat visit to that well-maintained gas station, which leads to more sales, maybe even more customer loyalty and worker satisfaction. In a competitive job market and commercial environment, what business wouldn’t want to aim for that?

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