Today, social media influencers work hard to publicize their personal brand – whether it be as an affordable fashion expert, amateur chef, or travel connoisseur – sometimes, they even go as far as creating a brand identity for a beloved pet. Influencers are able to build a following through their unique insight and knowledge on a specific topic. So, very much like a major household name brand like “Nike”, these influencers gain consumer buy-in through credibility. With a rise in touchpoints via social media, brand and identity are more important than ever before. Building a brand within a physical space is just another way to drive a message home. But what does it look like to have a branded environment?
A branded environment provides a space where people have a meaningful experience and connection. It uses the physical environment to bring values, culture, and vision to life. 1 This is accomplished by combining multiple disciplines like graphic design, interior design, and architecture. It’s about understanding what a company’s brand stands for and translating this into the built environment. When done well, visually experiencing a branded environment communicates the corporate identity without the need for additional verbal explanation.
Apple is one of the best examples of a company that successfully brands its environments. As a company, Apple is innovative, sleek, and modern. Everything in their store reflects these core traits. Their product, furniture, displays, and check-in/out process directly tie back to their brand mission statement: “to bring the best user experience to its customers…”. 2 The Apple logo is used sparingly in the store; with such a strong brand identity, even if they removed their logo, consumers would be able to identify what store they were browsing.
Apple Store/View Apart/Shutterstock.com
Things to Consider When Defining Your Brand:
- What is the brand’s personality? Voice? Purpose?
- How is the brand different?
- What story is being told?
- Who is the ideal customer?
- Who will use the space? Who is the “audience”?
- How will they use the space?
- List adjectives for your company.
Show Not Tell.
People should be able to walk into your space and immediately identify your values through feeling. In this way, the environment becomes a physical expression of what you stand for as a company. Create an environment that demonstrates your dedication to your work, the principles you align with, and the people who work for and with you.
First, it is essential to define your brand. Your company is more than a logo, color, and fonts. Similarly, branded spaces are more than a logo on a wall, designing with company colors, giving everyone a mug with your logo, or hanging up your company mission statement. The key is to know exactly who you are and what your brand is. When defining your brand, an excellent place to start is by listing adjectives to describe your company and how you want people to feel (i.e. casual, luxurious, or innovative?); take these and apply them to the design.
Definitely Do Not Yell.
Your space does not have to be all about YOU to showcase your brand. The design should be immersive and authentic. If you create genuine connections with the space – a spark of joy – this will make it memorable. If your brand is in people’s faces, the message becomes watered down and is less impactful. Make sure to capture the essence of who you are and don’t be so literal.
Branded Environments For All.
You might think, “Our company isn’t Apple,” or even “We aren’t retail, so this doesn’t apply.” Branded environments apply to all markets, not just retail, hospitality, or corporate spaces. It is important to build a connection, and for your space to reflect your company. It also helps with brand recognition. One of the most significant benefits of a branded environment is its first impression on clients. Consumers, clients, and employees all expect more. With social media making it easier to discover businesses that go above and beyond, it’s no longer enough to have a nice space if you want to truly excel.
Branded environments can also help improve engagement. Employees want to feel valued and like they belong; in return, they will buy into a company. In hospitality markets, branded environments help create an immersive experience that entertains and connects consumers. In a healthcare environment, branded environments focus on the patient experience.
Healthcare facilities can be hectic and stressful, but branded health spaces help promote joy and positivity throughout a facility with their design and function. Senior living communities have a unique opportunity to create brands within a brand, given the overall community’s principles and all the amenities within. No matter the function of the space, it is important for the company’s mission and core values to be embodied in the physical environment.
The next time you visit a business, take a minute to think about the experience – do you like what the space communicates about the company’s brand?