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Environmental Branding: Brand Design Goes Beyond Colors and Fonts

An environmental branding agency turns physical space into a positive experience for customers and employees, thus enhancing experience and connections.

Discussions about branding tend to focus upon the graphics, colors, and fonts used in packaging and advertising. After all, these contact points might create that all-important first impression — or sometimes, even the only impression. At the same time, many companies still do serve people in person, either in their store, restaurant, office, or other physical space.

An environmental branding agency ensures their clients keep or maintain their branding in the spaces where they greet their customers, employees, and investors. In fact, in-person contact with a brand gives these organizations a chance to truly make an even strong, emotional connection. Yet, businesses often overlook this kind of branding.

With that in mind, explore the importance of environmental branding and how it may exceed the capabilities of some commercial interior design firms.

What is environmental branding?

Some interior design firms offer environmental design as a service. In general, environmental design refers to improving people’s experience by making spaces more comfortable, navigable, or even exciting. According to HubSpot, this discipline can incorporate principals from architectural, landscape, graphic, and industrial design, and of course, marketing.

Thus, environmental branding serves as an important aspect of environmental design. To incorporate branding into the design, environmental graphic design firms might employ some graphical brand elements; however, to ensure a positive, overall experience, they may also choose complimentary fixtures, paint, textures, furniture, and signs.

This all serves to make the spaces more usable and functional, both from the standpoint of visitors and employees who use the space and from the perspective of marketers who want to improve their brand image.

Examples to illustrate the impact of environmental branding

It’s easiest to parse out exactly how environmental branding works by offering examples. Buchanan Design, an environmental branding agency, worked with a healthcare company called Imaging Healthcare Specialists. They also helped develop graphics for an established law firm, Higgs Fletcher & Mack.

Environmental branding agency work for healthcare

Initially, this company’s offices looked very clinical and functional, as patients might expect in a medical imaging clinic. While the original space served a purpose, it did nothing to help the organization stand out from its competitors or offer any extra value to patients.

Buchanan added wayfinder signs and graphics throughout the clinic to make it more navigable and distinctive. Most important, every office now includes its own Info Center to help promote all of the company’s brands and community outreach efforts. During the process, the environmental branding team also worked with construction and architectural teams to ensure a cohesive effort.

Environmental graphic design work for a law firm

As another example, they included an image gallery in the lobby of a law firm. As one of the biggest and oldest law firms in San Diego, the partners wanted to communicate their company culture, values, and history to clients and employees. To accomplish this, design agency installed large, colorful graphics with the pictures, names, and functions of everybody who worked for them.

Except for showing the firm’s founders separately at the end, nobody else had any special position in the display. This effort helped show off the firm in its historical context. Just as important, it introduced people to their staff and emphasized that every employee served an important function that contributed to success.

Don’t miss the chance to use physical space for environmental branding

So many companies miss the opportunity to use their own physical space to improve connections with customers and reinforce their brand identity. Perhaps they overlooked the positive impact this effort can produce or even worse, simply worked with commercial interior design firms that neglected to suggest it. Done well, environmental branding will help improve brand positioning and even more, turn a company’s spaces into places that customers and employees look forward to entering.

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