PROFILE: Amanda Rendle - Head of Business Marketing, HSBC
Understated is not a word that readily springs to mind when you arrive at the headquarters of HSBC, in London's docklands. The 40-storey monolith is not (quite) the biggest building in Canary Wharf, but the message that its sleek, aerodynamic profile, tinted glass and cathedralesque entrance lobby sends out is unequivocal: we're big, we're powerful, we're reliable and we're people you want to do business with. Which is exactly the kind of message you should be sending, if 'global' is as critical a part of your brand as it is HSBC's. It's a prime example of building as a metaphor for brand.
So it is with a mild sense of trepidation with which I approach the (vast) reception desk, introduce myself to the immaculately uniformed receptionist and ask where I can find Amanda Rendle, the company's head of corporate marketing. If she is anything like as dyed-in-the-wool corporate as the building, this may be a difficult interview, full of strictly party-line answers and overrun with management-speak.
Five minutes and three lifts later, I emerge into an altogether more intimate reception room on floor 26, having taken a wrong turn in the lobby and boarded the wrong lift. As if I needed reminding of the scale of the tower, I had to ask for directions twice.