Environmental Graphics: Your Brand in 3-D

We may live in the digital age, but we walk around a very real world. Think about the people approaching your building, entering your lobby, walking through your space. What do they see when they look up from their smartphones? Are they impressed or underwhelmed? Does your brand announce itself, or hide in the background?

Some of the best opportunities for meaningful, memorable branding are (literally) right in front of us. Too often, however, environmental graphics are overlooked in favor of more commonly used brand expressions.

SEGD, the Society for Environmental Graphic Design, speaks about environmental graphics as “shaping the idea of place.” No longer just for organizations with tradeshow booths and complex navigational challenges, environmental graphics are being used to communicate brand identity, convey vision, build loyalty, and tell corporate and organizational stories.

Here are four steps you can take to broaden your brand’s impact.

1. Seize the opportunity

Your environmental graphics define you — and create millions of impressions every day. Done right, they create a sense of place, tell a story, express your cultural values, engage your employees, inform your customers, and intrigue the public. When done poorly, or not at all, they can creative negative attitudes that are hard to undo.

The opportunity for smart marketing is unparalleled. Seize that opportunity.

2. Value collaboration

Like any important branding initiative, environmental graphics involve a complex network of stakeholders. Clients, partners, customers, investors, and employees each bring an important perspective. Although it may be difficult to get a cross-functional team together, conducting an environmental graphics audit can be an eye-opening experience. Not only will it help you collect valuable — and varied — points of view, it will also garner internal support for your branding efforts.

3. Consider every angle

Because environmental graphics are not one-dimensional (in any sense of the word), they require careful analysis and planning. Environmental graphics must do more than artfully express your brand; they must speak to many people simultaneously while existing in concert with the physical elements of your space. Environmental graphics that anticipate and manage audience expectations from every angle are the most successful.

4. Communicate a best-in-class brand

Environmental graphics blend problem-solving, storytelling, and brand identity. The best graphics integrate these objectives seamlessly. They engage and inform without overwhelming. They balance visual impact and basic functionality. Ultimately, they provide a distinct sense of place, one that deliberately and discreetly immerses audiences in your brand.

If you have space, it needs branding. Put another way: your location is already making an impression. Are you sending the right message?