Creating Branded3’s Google Street View tour
Why on earth would a company want a Google Street View tour of their own offices? I’ve heard the arguments that it’s a pretty self-indulgent thing to do; the equivalent of a business reaching its giant brick arm out and taking a big old corporate selfie.
In some cases, these cynics might be right, but I believe there are a myriad of great reasons for the Google Car to grind its way up our stairs and cruise majestically around B3’s corridors.
We’re a company built on people; we only employ damn good folk and we’re intensely proud of that. We work collaboratively and support one another, it’s embedded in Branded3’s culture and part of who we are.
And where we do this is a large part of our group dynamic. With a giant, open-plan, panoramic office; team members can easily bounce from table-to-table like a giant pinball special.
The need for open collaboration, easy access to anyone and everyone, and the ability to grab an expert in the moment of need and move on together is what gives the company its unique energy; we call it our interdependent approach.
To understand who we are, it’s important to see where we do what we do (doo-be-doo-be-doo). Google Street View has given us the unique opportunity to do that.
So, that’s the why – here’s the how.
When we sat down to brainstorm a story-board for the tour; our minds were flooded with opportunity. Many-a-business Google tour simply shows the interior, empty and tidied, and looking like nothing more than a rather fancy estate agents listing. BORING!
But many had also gone the other way – filling their tours with an explosion of fancy dress, props, mock sword fights, wookies, animal heads and utter mayhem. One agency (who shall remain unnamed) went so far overboard that I both marvelled at the sheer effort gone into staging their tour and resolutely decided I wouldn’t ever trust a marketing budget to such a frat house.
We needed to find a middle ground – we’re not Branded3 the wacky warehouse. We’re not Branded3 the chartered accountants. We’re professional, passionate, energetic and fun. Google, quite understandably, imposes a number of requirements on what you can and can’t do, and it was from these constraints (as it nearly always is) that our best ideas came out.
You can’t show faces. Google will, as it would in the street, blur them out.
We could just let this happen, but to my mind, it’s both ugly and the lazy way out. If you can’t show faces then what can you show instead?
We recently had our staff provide a single Instagram picture which represented something important to them in their life. We had each of these pictures mounted onto a card, and as the cameras passed around, each person held up their treasured image in place of their own faces. If you can’t see their face, you can see what they hold most dear – which, in my opinion, is even better.
The tour can’t go on a path that you wouldn’t be able to walk in real life. Bang went my idea of entering the server room and emerging in Narnia; bloody spoilsports.
Luckily for us, we have such a beautifully laid-out office that you could run an 800ms in a perfect loop through our rooms. No getting stuck in a corner, being unable to escape, something which can be severely frustrating for a user.
We wanted people to interact with us through the tour, but there are currently no click-throughs permitted in Google Maps. So to embed links into the tour, we looked to QR codes. They may already be considered old school by some, but they present a perfect solution for allowing us to place links through to further content in our tour.
Printing giant QR posters and placing them in the relevant points of the office tour allowed us to link through to great content such as a blog post about the office interior design and profiles of key staff.
It turns out that Google doesn’t actually insist you place a Stormtrooper behind a door in your tour, a fact belied by their ubiquitous presence in every single other Google office tour on the planet. We bravely resisted the urge to move to the dark side.
And of course, we couldn’t help ourselves when it comes to some lovely, fun, set pieces. On the tour you can find our Monopoly stand-off, a grumpy cat briefing, Sherlock’s SEO den, and a fair representation of a typical tea round.
Get stuck in, cruise our halls and see what else you might find!