By: Kirk Theriot
For some years now, marketers have been writing about the importance of branding — creating brands, brand management, and re-branding almost everything and everyone. We have strategically used all types of mediums to publish or deliver our branding messages and environmental graphics are no different. Graphic design is no stranger to environmental spaces — the retail market has been capitalizing on this powerful tool since the very first merchandising space. Environmental graphics or branding continue to trend as architects, interior designers, and the corporate world take notice of the wide range of benefits beyond adding a splash of color or adding the logo to the wall. Companies are re-thinking the role of the workspace to help employees truly live their brand. From wall décor and office graphics to decorative privacy film for conference room windows, interior graphics don’t just fill space — they communicate the soul of the company and impact the way employees engage with each other and guide the public experience of an organization. The workplace is constantly changing to accommodate a shifting workforce with various expectations and working styles. This accommodation is not only a trend in some workplaces, but in many, it has become a vehicle to attract and retain the best talent. Environmental graphics work hard.
Environmental graphics help to brand the company. Communicating the company DNA is hard to do in a mission statement, but a wall installation can reinforce company values. Having your values prominently displayed where employees encounter them frequently can be a good way to reinforce their usage in everyday work, increase organizational awareness, and establish credibility and trust within the organization. Environmental graphics give organizations an opportunity to connect with their target audience in a very public and impactful manner. Visitors are instantly engaged with visual communications that can guide, direct, and support a positive experience with the brand before any other type of media or verbal welcome.
Environmental graphics can help employees feel engaged, valued, and connected. Finding the right balance between privacy and openness is the key to creating a productive environment. The architecture and interior design play a large role through the layout of the building and work areas, but success also relies on the experienced graphic designer to create the perfect balance of color, shape, and messaging to achieve harmony.
In this example, branded vinyl with right balance of translucency, transparency, and opacity was used on the glass of conference rooms and boardrooms to ensure a level of privacy and productivity. This allowed the people inside the boardrooms to work undisturbed, but also not feel excluded from what was happening outside.
Connect People to Place
Environmental graphics can promote creativity. Many companies use traditional signs, directories, charts, maps, landmarks, and architectural treatments to identify buildings, levels, offices, and public spaces. However, incorporating inspired themes into non-traditional wayfinding solutions can connect people to place in innovative and exciting ways. Experienced environmental designers understand how individuals perceive and move through spaces, are adept at organizing information to communicate graphically in order to transform a dull office into a center for inspired creativity. We live in a time when the creative economy reigns supreme and most organizations view “creativity” as the most valued currency. Companies spend billions of dollars on recruiting, training, and personnel development, but spend very little on environment.
Improve Employee Health
Environmental graphics can help improve employee health. According to a recent Gallup poll, American adults employed full-time report working an average of 47 hours per week, nearly six days a week — that’s longer than our counterparts in the world's largest economies. With the increasing number of hours spend indoors in bland, uninspired spaces, company morale and productivity can plummet and employee health can be affected. Many companies are incorporating a sense of nature and the outdoors into their interiors through biophilic environmental design. Biophilia deals with the innate relationship between humans and nature and the basic human need of continuously being connected to a natural environment. As it has been shown to improve employee health, biophilic design works to enhance the individual’s connection with nature in the environment in which we live and work every day. Other creative environmental design decisions can also help encourage healthy behaviors by making the stairs a more attractive option than an elevator.
Impacts the Bottom Line
Environmental graphics can serve as a powerful sales tool, making it that much easier to sell a specific vision to potential clients as they walk through a space or talk through ideas. The positive visual appeal of a space can help create a profound connection between people and place and the connection between brand and success. The ability to transform a formerly conventional or uninspiring environment into a powerful communication tool is a remarkable asset for any business or professional.