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From Blank Slate to Creative Direction: Discovering a Design Vision

Finding a design vision

When most clients approach us for help with their environmental design projects, they have very specific deliverables in mind. As we discuss their projects, their scopes expand. This usually happens after we’ve gone on-site for an assessment and understand the total environment. Sometimes we can’t help but notice new blank walls that could benefit from added personality and branding. We suggest capitalizing on opportunities to use surfaces for messaging that otherwise might be left blank. Often, it’s the message in an unexpected place that gets noticed the most.  


In one recent project, our client had never thought of using large-scale graphics as part of their décor. In fact, at the outset they had simply been thinking of frosted glass for privacy. We ended up walking through other areas of the space and, among other things, added graphical elements to their break room. We designed a magnetic dry erase board as part of the décor. It proved to be highly functional with subtle branding. The board now serves as a new and improved version of a community bulletin board. Instead of being a standard issue-white board or using mismatched sheets of paper with event announcements, the board perfectly blends with the décor of the space.

Dry erase board in break room

In another recent project, we branded a corporate office and several branches for a credit union. The design strategy was consistent with brand guidelines used across the website and print materials. This ensured that when a potential client visited in person after browsing the website, the look and feel would be recognizable, and everything would be integrated.


What’s the take-away? When designing corporate spaces, don’t get tricked into thinking that you are limited to just putting up typical landscape photos and being done. There are countless of ways in which you can incorporate functional art and messaging that communicate brand personality and values. Of course, messaging is different for employee-only spaces and client-facing spaces, but in both instances using décor to underscore organizational themes is a savvy move.


If your organization doesn’t have a member of the brand or marketing team involved in interior décor, you’re not alone. In my experience, that is more the exception than the rule. Interestingly, I’ve noticed lately that brands are realizing that they should take advantage of environmental branding; they just aren’t sure how to go about it, what works and what doesn’t. Whether or not your organization has the luxury of marketing involvement in décor, not to worry — we’re here to help!

POSTED UNDER: Branding, Environmental Design

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