Innovative Design Unites Banking and Community At Capital One Cafés

Today's frenzied customers are looking for brands to help ease the necessities of life. And, banking falls squarely in that category. That's why Capital One Cafés facilitate not only banking, but tend to serve as community hubs that bring people together for events, education and face-to-face conversations in a relaxed setting.

"This space is here for our customers, and specifically designed for them to use however they like," says designer Matthew Rowan, Physical Design Manager for Capital One who oversees the branded look and feel of the Cafés as they expand into select new markets. "Capital One is doing something pretty inspiring- providing something very tailored to our customers' lives."

Here, it's all about warmth, accessibility and a human feel, presented in a crisp and clean setting. Cafés are designed not just around making banking easier, but also exploration, discovery, hospitality and related events. That comes in the form of digital tools to process real-time banking transactions (no teller required, but a Capital One ambassador is always on hand to answer questions), a mix of places to sit, think and converse (from marble tables for two to roomy wood conference tables) and a sleek coffee bar with tempting treats.

As for the inspiration behind the concept, "What makes me most excited is the shift in public attitudes about what banking could be" Rowan says. "The idea of making your relationship with money closer, more transparent and easier to manage speaks to what we implemented here in the Capital One Cafés. From a bigger picture, it's just a part of good design, which is about solving problems elegantly and making the world a better place."

Below, Rowan takes us on a virtual tour of the unique details and experiences you'll find at a Capital One Café.
"When you walk into the space, the last thing we want customers to feel is, ‘this is what I expected from a bank.'" Rowan says. "This isn't banking as usual; it's fresh, new and inviting. We've even treated our signature logo in a different way. It's an unexpected twist- tactile, unusual, honest and warm."
"Capital One Cafés do a really good job of creating visuals that express who we are as company. When customers first walk into the Café, their first question is usually ‘what is this space?' We answer that right up front, and our voice is literally right there up on the walls."
"The thing I really love about the space is it offers new experiences and discoveries each time you walk through—there are cool things to see and learn, and subtle messages or moments that reinforce the great things happening here. There's nothing about the interactions or visuals that are heavy-handed or oppressive; it's meant to be understated so our customers can experience the space on their own terms."
"The digital banking tools our customers use to are very symbol based and intuitive, so our Cafés reflect that visual language. For instance, the ‘hub' where you can ask questions or seek help from our Ambassadors is always within plain view of the front door, and it's marked with a large icon. Our ATMs also super easy to see, and include the message ‘DIY banking. Help yourself."
"The openness within the Cafés reflects our product lines- we talk about having no hidden fees; likewise, there's not really any hidden space. That openness also extends to our work outside the Café- we partner with local communities to make sure we're responding to the needs and the character of their neighborhood, we feature selections from local bakeries, as well as offer meeting space for our non-profit community partners."
"Interactive screens provide ambient content—things you're able to absorb—about financial fitness. If you want to go deeper you can actually touch the screens and learn things about saving or ways of cutting sneaky costs. One of my favorites is about zombie fees. It's an awesome tip I've been able to take advantage of myself as a customer, which is pretty cool."
"When we talk about making customers comfortable, it's all about offering a lot of options. We allow our customers to bank their way, so it makes sense to allow them to relax and work their way too."
"The Café isn't just about banking; it's about living your life and enjoying the space you are working in. We've embedded the Cafés within active communities where lots of people are, so it's always a welcoming place to meet and collaborate with friends. Cafés have always been woven into community life and everyday behavior. Ours has great bonuses beyond great coffee and food; our ambassadors and money coaches offer free financially-minded services, and our meeting areas can be used by our non-profit community partners to hold meetings and events that serve the neighborhood."
"The amazing thing about the Cafés is that the physical and digital experiences are blended together so well, which is a great reflection of the banking services that Capital One offers. Our ambassadors provide a friendly, human face to help customers use our digital tools to access their accounts on their own terms. The space also invites discovery of the awesome new tools and services we offer like CreditWise, CashTapp and Level Money. The goal is for folks to have a more confident and comfortable relationship with their money. That's never a bad thing."
"The only closed off areas we have are nooks and meeting rooms, which were specifically designed for customers who want to have a more private conversation with an ambassador or money coach. We want everyone to feel comfortable and at ease in a space that feels welcoming, simple, and timeless."
"One thing that I'm really proud of as a designer is that our Cafés don't just offer local foods and beverages, but also surprising connections to the community and the people it serves. For example, in Philadelphia we're working with local artist Paul Carpenter, whose Philly-centric illustrations are presented in a showcase of his work that celebrates the richness of the city."
"Each Café features local connections to the community and the people it serves. For example, we're working with local artists to display their creativity on our walls. It's all part of what's awesome about having a Capital One Café in your backyard. It invites a level of curiosity; from the tools and services to the person-to-person interaction, we've created an unexpected experience that feels really relevant to how we live our lives right now. From a money standpoint, that is never a bad thing."

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