What is environmental branding? While there are varying levels of awareness as to what it actually is, a large misconception is that branding is all about signage or even simply the use of your logo in your space. Signage is a commodity that’s readily available but when it comes to branding, there’s a strategic backbone behind what you’re striving to achieve. It’s not about putting an image on the wall but about the thought process and message behind it, the placement of it, and even the material used to make it. By using design strategy, you take a concept from 2D or digital format and bring it into the built environment. In short, branding uniquely defines your space enabling you to tell a story that resonates with people.
Many companies have brand standards and guidelines, but just aren’t sure how to apply them. As you consider engaging with a team of creative professionals, you might not know where to begin or how to talk the branding talk. The most important thing you can express when strategizing with a creative team is the message you’re trying to convey in your space and to whom. You’ll also need to determine the action you’re trying to get people to take and establish parameters for a budget so that the materials used in the design can be accurately specified to fit within that budget. Then you can begin the process of aligning designs to your typography, color scheme, and messaging and everything else begins to fall into place. When talking with professionals, what other terminology should you be familiar with? Here’s a short list to get you started:
Space Audit – a site assessment performed by a creative team to analyze your space to determine who’s using it and how it’s being used
Journey Mapping – the process of understanding and documenting the experience that your target audiences (both internal and external) have within your space, to help identify where different branded elements need to be placed and the messages that need to be conveyed along the various paths
Concepting – the initial ideation for how your brand can be applied to a space, which is not intended to be final and binding but rather to help pinpoint the best, most authentic design for refinement
Elevation – a flat, 2D representation of a straight-on wall view, which can be drawn or computerized
Rendering – a digital drawing that shows various perspectives of a branded element or space
Fabrication – the part of the production process that brings designs to reality through tangible assets
In reality, the strongest branded environments today are being constructed out of anything - from hard hats to shipping containers - and often the materials used are meaningful to the environment they’re placed in. Not to mention, technology continues to evolve what is able to be produced with inventions like 3D printing. There is no template when it comes to branding your space. Every branding project should start with a blank canvas and then be customized in an authentic and unique way.
Now that you can talk the talk, it's time to walk the walk and set up an initial branding meeting with professionals. Get the conversation started by telling your story, then watch as it comes to life.