How do you design an efficient and flexible branch concept that optimizes service processes while enhancing the customer experience? And how do you achieve this while maintaining ongoing operations? For Berliner Volksbank, we have created the "Dickes B" branch design concept that meets the requirements of a modern and customer-centric bank. Because flexibility and efficiency can be achieved without the typical slat blinds! With integrated digital services, strong messaging, striking yet subtle Berlin-inspired details, and a closely coordinated, collaborative project management approach, we have created a new branch experience for employees and customers of Berliner Volksbank. The concept was developed and implemented by the teams led by Creative Director Volker Katschinski from dan pearlman Brand Architecture, and Marc Eisenbach, Managing Director of ME-made GmbH.
Berliner Volksbank plans to establish a branch network that speaks a unified and modern language, prioritizing efficiency and functionality. Therefore, the new concept focuses on fundamentally optimizing the day-to-day operations of bank employees and providing customers with smart solutions for their banking needs. The goal is also to quickly and easily roll out the new design in additional branches. To ensure this, the teams from dan pearlman Brand Architecture and ME-made GmbH work closely together, following the “Design to Cost” principle to align design and budget considerations.
In the pilot branch at Hermannplatz, everything now revolves around a new experience for customers under the motto “Dickes B”: “Berliner Volksbank. Wir sind Neukölln.” (Berliner Volksbank. We are Neukölln.) is prominently displayed in large, bold white letters against a deep blue background. From the 24-hour self-service area at the entrance to the BVB Shop, the branch features a clear spatial design with a Mobile Banking Table in the self-service area and a Welcome Counter, short consultation islands, and a waiting lounge in the BVB Shop. The deliberate use of modern orange accents highlights the new modules. Goodbye to bulky reception desks and welcome to an agile advisory atmosphere! Digital and minimalist elements such as the Mobile Banking Table and the queuing system create space for more flexible and personalized workflows. This means that employees are no longer confined to their workstations but rotate between stations throughout the day. The thoughtful arrangement of simple and efficient modules reduces their walking distances and increases throughput times for customers. Height-adjustable desks provide greater ergonomics at workstations. For customers, a queuing system offers more freedom in managing wait times.
Many of the services are also accessible to customers independently and digitally, with employees available for support when needed. Through open and eye-catching communication, customers are engaged even before entering the branch: the typical slat blinds in the shop windows are replaced with a larger view inside, without compromising discretion. Overall, the new bank format creates a sense of approachability for customers and emphasizes the cooperative aspect of the bank, particularly in the self-service area. Images of the bank’s founder and short messages contribute to the sense of participation and community associated with the cooperative. Small stories about Berlin, maps showing neighborhood details, and details such as the lounge table made from a Berlin lime tree highlight the local customer needs and reinforce the sense of regional connection in the BVB Shop. A display board shows the current number of members in the neighborhood. For those planning more than a quick stop at the bank, a separate consultation room provides space for in-depth discussions and privacy. The adjacent Berliner Volksbank Advisory Center offers personalized customer service. A waiting lounge with a café corner and five additional consultation rooms provide customers with a discreet and personal atmosphere. And for all employees not engaged in customer conversations, there is a shared desk with four workstations. The new concept is also reflected on the first floor with the Advisory Center.
Efficient roll-out of the new design concept is crucial for Berliner Volksbank. That’s why the concept excels in achieving 100% standardization, from furniture to technology. This creates transparency and enables faster setup and teardown of branches, allowing for testing new locations with pop-up stores for shorter durations. Additionally, the setup costs are minimized thanks to easy assembly and plug-and-play solutions. To implement the new design concept while ensuring uninterrupted service for customers, existing branches are renovated while still operating. Furthermore, maintaining a friendly and collaborative relationship with customers and contractors was important during the implementation of the first two branches in the new design in Berlin Neukölln and Königswusterhausen. In the future, more customers of Berliner Volksbank can look forward to redesigned bank branches at multiple locations throughout Berlin.