Umpqua Bank's Innovation Lab

by bradywalen on February 6, 2008

Last week, I had the opportunity to check out Umpqua Bank’s latest branch concept – the Innovation Lab, and overall, I was pretty impressed.From the press release Umpqua Bank put out about the branch:



“The store will serve as Umpqua’s Innovation Lab, showcasing emerging and existing technologies that foster community and redefine what consumers can expect from a banking experience. As a testing ground for new initiatives, the Lab will change regularly to feature new technology, products, services and community events.” 


Complete with huge 25-foot interactive touch screens, merchandise on display for purchase, and customized computer stations, the branch looks quite different from the traditional bank branch.Some of the more notable features include:



  • Café style tables that serve as both a traditional table and as a computer station. The table top can be lifted open to give customers access to a laptop inside. The design gives customers the privacy they need while banking online in the branch and keeps the branch looking clean when the computers are not in use.
  • The community table in the center of the lobby seats about 12 people and can be used as a meeting place for organizations or groups of people who need to get together. The branch manager told us that the table is used about 6 nights a week.
  • You can’t miss the two huge interactive touch screens when you walk into the branch. One serves to display product information; the other is community-based which displays photos that customers submit themselves – it’s like a modern-day community bulletin board. The best part about the screens is that they are used for Nintendo Wii tournaments; the night of our visit, the bank was hosting a bowling tournament.
  • Merchandise. Walking into the branch, you can’t help but run into the tables in the lobby displaying Umpqua Bank t-shirts, hats, and coffee cups. And, one table is set up to display the merchandise of local businesses/artists – which, I would imagine, is changed on an ongoing basis.

Overall, I was impressed with the branch – its layout, look and feel, and incorporation of technology. I think a lot of people visiting the branch (or seeing it in the news) will also be impressed; which raises a red flag for me. While Umpqua Bank has taken steps to explore the use of new technologies like the touch screens in its branches, it’s an approach that simply won’t translate well at many community banks across the country.

Like ING Direct with its cafes, Umpqua Bank is pushing the envelope in terms of its branch design and customer experience with the Innovation Lab. And after visiting either, you can see how each is aligned with their respective brands – and how the individual elements they’ve included in their branch designs (i.e. coffee bar with baristas, touch screens, etc.) simply will not translate well in other markets with other companies.



Umpqua Bank and ING Direct have given people something unexpected – and something for people to talk about. And while we’ve seen many bankers attempt to incorporate elements of either company’s branch design into their own, successful financial institutions will be those that can generate buzz with something new, unique and reflective of their institution’s brand and market.

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