Freight transportation management company the Hub Group wanted an office that reflects its coast-to-coast transportation services and challenged creative and branding agency 160over90 to translate these services to the company's new Oak Brook, Ill. headquarters.
“We needed a simple but powerful idea. For a corporate leader in transportation management, we thought the idea of movement represented both their services but also where they are going as a company,” said Stephen Penning, Executive Creative Director of 160over90. “We worked closely with Hub Group’s internal marketing and design teams to concept and create the space transformation. The graphics speak to the idea of movement. Sometimes in a literal way; other times more figuratively.”
Everything at the 130,000 square-foot space - from colorful murals, multi-dimensional wall graphics, and floor-to-ceiling images - tells the story of cross-country transportation while also remaining functional, navigational and understandable to visitors.
Each level of the four-story Hub Group building represents a different time zone, and is color-coded and outfitted with geo-specific visual cues for easy navigation. Regional landscapes differentiate the floors, with way-finding locators placed outside each elevator bay designed to orient employees and guests.
The second floor – marked in blue – falls in the Eastern Time zone and an oversized highway graphic stretches the length of the main offices. The third floor represents Mountain Time and is denoted in red, and the fourth, in light green, keeps Pacific Time.
The meeting rooms draw inspiration – and naming rights – from notable cities from Hub Group’s network or the transportation industry: Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Memphis, St. Louis, Dallas, and Pittsburgh. The executive lounge, housed on the ground floor, features a wall graphic that is designed to be both motivational and directional: “We don’t just keep up with business. We set the pace” for instance.
160over90 also created location-specific murals for each floor’s kitchenette, which are then repurposed and pieced together in the ground-floor cafeteria, to form a cross-country panorama. These detailed murals feature miniature Hub Group trucks, as well as a man walking his dog in a park.
In all, this space is a significant change from its previous office. "Hub Group’s previous work environment was fairly typical of what you would expect of a large corporation," says Penning. "That space was no longer indicative of the thought leaders they have become in their industry. To continue to retain and grow that position, they needed a space that was primed for collaboration and ideation."
Transforming creative ideas to actual physical design was a key challenge. "Anytime you take on an effort that involves branding a physical environment that is mid-construction, you have to be open to modifications," says Penning. "As things evolve, the ability to retain the vision for a project of this scale can be challenging. Fortunately, we had great partners at Hub Group who were accommodating throughout the entire process."
160over90 has worked with the Hub Group for about four years. In addition to this creative platform, 160over90 developed the "40 for 40" employee-directed initiative that encourages employees to vote for fellow colleagues who embodied Hub's values - in celebration of Hub's 40 year anniversary. After the campaign gained traction internally, 160over90 then developed a suite of materials for external use including a nontraditional, oversized sales brochure printed on newsprint, advertising campaign, and a new company web site.
The Hub Group has over 1,400 employees, excluding drivers, and in addition to its new headquarters, operates through a network of offices and independent agents throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.