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Jul 25, 2017
Jeff Klump

The K4 team couldn’t have been more thrilled when The Community Bankers Association of Ohio announced that the 2017 annual convention would be held in our hometown of Cincinnati, OH this summer.  While we look forward to visiting and networking with our fellow CBAO members, we’d like to share a short list of new community bank design trends that have been implemented within the Cincinnati market by the K4 design team.  Should time permit, feel free to stop by and check them out while visiting the Queen City!

First Financial Bank435 Sycamore Street Cincinnati, OH 45202

Author’s own project photos, photography by Corporate Photo Group

Located in downtown Cincinnati, this contemporary micro-branch features on-street access and public frontage in the First Financial Center corporate headquarters which doesn’t have a lobby branch.  This location is only 890 square feet with two sit down teller pods, a private office, and a waiting area.  The ATM and night deposit are in the main entrance lobby space that can be separated for 24-hour access. With full height glass doors, this results in an ATM only area offering “after business hours” banking with entrance granted via the customer’s ATM card.  This branch is a great example of the use of branded environmental graphics that are visible from the public streets through exterior glass walls, conveying brand consistency amongst other Cincinnati locations and solidifying the First Financial brand within the Cincinnati market.   This micro-branch concept works well when affiliated with a Main Office that doesn’t perform transaction based activities, but is instrumental in increasing your branch network while decreasing the footprint size.  If you are seeking to lessen the number of branch staff, as well as operating costs, this may be a good direction for your bank, but you must also be willing to consider technology implementation.

Northside Bank & Trust Co.2739 Madison Road Cincinnati, OH 45209

Northside Bank & Trust Co Double

Author’s own project photos

Located within an urban, trendy, and revitalized area in close proximity to downtown Cincinnati (Hyde Park), this branch features two teller pods manned by Universal Bankers to provide a personalized banking experience. Also incorporated is the use of vibrant colors and environmental graphics to cater to the local younger demographic, and walkability of the neighborhood.  There is even a dog-friendly space within the branch, which illustrates the concept of designing the space around the community experience, as well as catering to the unique demographics of each branch within a network.  This branch transformation concept can work in urban as well as rural areas that are pedestrian friendly, and supports commercial development efforts of attracting in new millennial businesses.

Forcht Bank502 Madison Ave. Covington, KY 41011

Author's own project photos, photography by Bella Photographics

Author’s own project photos, photography by Bella Photographics

This Forcht Bank loan production office is a renovated building at the site of Covington’s former Greyhound Bus station, and the bank’s first location in Kenton County.  This location features full height glass walls and doors surrounding the offices to create an open and inviting environment, and the use of Environmental Graphics visible from the busy public street.  The design challenges included working with and preserving the original tin pan ceiling, as well as designing to fit within a long and narrow space.  It was also important to tie the design of this new facility and partner the Forcht Bank legacy to that of the historic Madison district in Covington, while presenting a modern and updated feel.  It was a complete departure from the traditional design of other Forcht Bank locations.  This non-traditional facility features interactive, open areas for loan processing with all transactions conducted by an Interactive Teller Machine in the front lobby, and all new accounts opened online.  The ITM is located in an open full glass vestibule that will allow after-hours access even after the office is closed.  This location is a great example of ITM implementation for transactions, while shifting the design of the facility to a more retail oriented space and creating opportunities to cross-sell and promote additional services.   In addition, since it is not considered a “branch,” no regulatory approval is necessary.  This concept works well in both urban and rural markets, attracting in millennials seeking auto and home loans, and offering the ability to process transactions remotely.

Park National Bank3825 Edwards Rd #520 Cincinnati, OH 45209

Author's own project photos, photography by Corporate Photo Group

Author’s own project photos, photography by Corporate Photo Group

This Park National Bank regional office is located on the fourth floor of a multi-tenant office building in the high profile, public area of Rookwood Commons in Cincinnati and is a regional wealth management office.  The majority of clients serviced here are business or special accounts, with incorporation of full-service branch banking capabilities built into the front receptionist space and workstation.  The branch features open and modern spaces, offices, and conference facilities that veer away from the design of a traditional bank branch.  The facility is in a modern building and the surrounding tenants also have updated spaces.  The overall design goal was a warm, but modern interior.  The design challenge was working within an irregular, long and narrow, “L”- shaped space while also designing for future expansion and to accommodate added services and an expanding client base.  The blue corporate color was featured and this branch will be considered a leader for future prototypical development.  This branch illustrates how the concept of additional fee based services can be combined with some transactional capabilities. This concept is best applied when centrally located to areas with a large concentration of high net worth, in older and more established communities.

As Community Banks begin the arduous process of rethinking their branch network and the distribution of their services, they need to consider new and different approaches to traditional banking concepts to differentiate themselves.  Whether considering a new location, expanding into a new market, or repurposing an existing branch; it is time to get creative and innovative to adapt branches to the demographic markets they serve.  At the forefront of these branch transformation strategies are brand consistency, focusing the design around the community experience, shifting the design to be more retail-oriented, and creating environments to encourage people to come in.   Although the banks mentioned in these articles are located in more urban areas, these concepts can be applied to almost any market if you are willing to get creative and accept the challenge of stepping outside of your comfort zone.