If bankers want their branches to be successful, they'll have to start thinking beyond efficiency. They also need to start designing around productivity, says Paul Seibert, vice president of financial design for EHS Design. 

Speaking during the inaugural BankThink Live Sessions at American Banker's Retail Banking 2014 conference, Seibert says most banks miss this point when they sit down to design new branch prototypes. 

"It seems today all the work is driven by efficiency," Seibert said. "How can we drive down the cost of branching? How can we drive down the amount of staff we have? How can we use personal teller machines, PTMs, to reduce the amount of costs?"

These questions are important to consider, but they won't necessarily result in a boost in sales.

"We need to think of a new formula," Seibert explained. "We need to look at productivity where we come up with a new branch concept — a new business model — that really creates a high-increase in growth."

In order to enhance efficiency and productivity, Seibert suggested banks develop branch prototypes around, among other things, clarity and simplicity of brand translation, flexibility,  balance between brand and local values, a strong differentiation in image and experience and convergence with all delivery channels.

He cited Umpqua Bank, Vancity Credit Union of Canada and BlueShore Financial as firms that have incorporated some of these attributes into their branch networks.

"The first time I walked into an Umpqua branch, I asked the greeter to tell me about the branch design," Seibert said. "What I found by the expression of this greeter was they were living the brand — they were expressing the brand — and isn't that the point of all this … to provide a space where our staff can be successful?"

Jeanine Skowronski is the deputy editor of BankThink. You can contact her at Jeanine.skowronski@sourcemedia.com or follow her at Twitter @JeanineSko.