It seems more and more firms are either adding branded environments to their list of services or inserting “branded environments” somewhere into their firm name. So what is a branded environment anyway? Is this a passing fad or a lasting tenet of design?
In marketing, branded environments extend the experience of an organization’s brand, or distinguishing characteristics as expressed in names, symbols and designs, to the design of interior or exterior physical settings. It uses space as a physical embodiment of the brand to create a ‘brand space.’ This is achieved through architecture, interiors, lighting, graphics, landscape in spaces such as retail stores, showrooms, trade-fair booths and office environments.
Essentially, it is carrying the essence of the brand throughout multiple mediums. This is apparent – and crucial – now more than ever with people consistently toggling between physical and digital environments. Nowadays, we are not confined to only our physical environment because the digital experience is now on par with the physical.
Think of when you go out to a new restaurant. Our very first point of contact, or impression, is going to the restaurant’s website for directions, a phone number, their menu, photographs of the space, etc. This is a representation of the digital complementing the physical with the website providing an equally integral role in the restaurant experience as the physical visit.
Branded environments factor heavily into this example by carrying with them a message, visual, and experience from the digital to the physical world, and vice-versa. The digital and physical worlds – albeit very different in experience – are indelibly woven together, or need to be thought of as such, according to branded environments designers. In branded environments, threads are pulled through each environment in consistent and complementary ways to establish a total brand experience. The brick-and-mortar brand approach of having just the physical environment is not enough nowadays according to branded environments proponents; it needs a digital partner. Same for the digital – it cannot function effectively on its own, it needs the tangible, physical complement.
With it now increasingly natural for people to reside and work within a well-balanced convergence of the physical and digital, branded environments are extremely significant for brands in that they align the physical and digital in a completely unique way to produce well-rounded brand experience.