The Importance of Environmental Branding

June 30, 2020 | buchanandesign

An often missed branding opportunity

It is commonly known that first impressions are extremely important. In business, what people see on your website, social media, and marketing have an impact on how they will perceive the way you conduct business. But what about the appearance of your company’s lobby, public areas, and meeting rooms? Your workplace presents a front-line opportunity to make a big first impression on every visitor – client, prospect, vendor partner, and potential employee alike. How your company portrays itself throughout your physical location is what we in the industry call environmental branding.

In our modern era, environmental branding has become a critical factor in your company’s overall brand strategy. Unlike your online presence, your workplace is where your brand can really come alive and become an extension of who you are as an organization. It allows for people to personally connect with your brand and make a strong emotional connection to it. This can have a profound impact on anyone who walks into your space and will give them another brand touchpoint to experience.

Buchanan Brand + Design Studio Entrance

Environmental branding is more than just your logo behind the receptionist or your mission statement in a frame. It’s taking your brand and looking for strategic ways to incorporate it throughout your corporate office, retail store, or restaurant. It is the foundation that brings your culture to life and can help lead to significantly better employee engagement. By utilizing a blend of architecture, interior design, and graphic design to communicate your brand personality and identity, it’s objective is to showcase your core brand beliefs and culture and create a positive emotional response. Some of the elements used in environmental branding can include:

  • Identity & graphics
  • Brand elements
  • Furniture & paint
  • Light fixtures & hardware
  • Signage & wayfinding
  • Materials & finishes

When looking back at brands where we have made an impact through environmental branding, one that immediately comes to mind is Imaging Healthcare Specialists. What was once a very clinical patient experience, now has what we call an “Info Center” in the lobby of every location, in addition to wayfinding and graphics throughout. The Info Center is reserved to promote all of the company brands, collateral, and community outreach. We worked closely with the architect and construction company to ensure the best results since our efforts don’t happen until the space is ready for paint and finishes.

Another great example of a company that we were able to assist through this medium was Qualcomm who is headquartered right here in San Diego with over 200 locations worldwide. They needed signage for one of their campus healthcare offices and we were able to leverage their unique space to highlight iconography specific to healthcare. The design was both directional and decorative to all while reinforcing the brand.

Environmental branding can be used very strategically to highlight the history of the company, or in the case of Higgs Fletcher & Mack, one of the largest and oldest law firms in San Diego, we used it to introduce the entire company to every visitor. We call it the Mosaic Gallery, it has a picture of every employee at the firm in no special hierarchy to reinforce that everyone was important to the success of the firm. We coordinated photography, production, and installation every quarter to ensure it was always up-to-date. At the end of the hall are the three founders.

It’s unfortunate that many companies often miss the opportunity to reinforce their identity and culture throughout their environmental space. This can be from not wanting to make the financial investment, not fully understanding the impact that it can have on their employees or visitors alike, or worse, the agency that they worked with on brand strategy didn’t suggest it!

When environmental branding is done correctly, it can build passion and heart around your mission, visions, and values in a way that makes people really care. It is critical for spreading knowledge and showing a timeline of where you came from and where you are headed. It can allow your customers and employees to see it, understand it, and live it in a way that they may not be able to otherwise.

If you or someone you know is exploring ways to bring your brand to life through your environment, our team at Buchanan Brand + Design would be happy to help. Our experts have countless years of experience bringing brands to life and are always looking for a new challenge. By setting up a discovery call here, we can discuss current opportunities and ask specific questions to help guide you in finding the best ways to move forward!


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