Interiors and Branding

Nice LOGO - Pink

Written by: Nice Branding Agency

Categories: Branding Tips

If you’ve been following Nice Branding Agency for a while, we’ve probably brainwashed you into believing that you can’t build a brand without a relentless attention to detail. As an interior branding agency, we're here to tell you that this also includes the interior and exterior space of your business. 

You see, a brand isn’t something you create through logo design, it’s the perception people form about your organization based on all they encounter related to your business.

So, with that in mind, a business brand has got to be cultivated by a thread of consistent authenticity that’s woven through each and every touchpoint. We would say “customer touchpoint,” but the brand isn’t being contrived by customers alone. It’s being created under the perception of your employees, your vendors, and the general public.

As a business owner or operator, we’re sure you can agree that making the right impression on each of these targets is not up for debate. And we know that part of that impression is the feeling people get when they enter your business, restaurant, or store.

Let’s be clear, it’s not just about making a ‘good’ impression. It’s about influencing people to see your business in the light that you want it to be seen in. There are many places that one could say have been decorated nicely. But what are your interior selections saying about your business, and how are they relating to your overall brand?

Interior Design vs Environmental Branding

When the physical environment comes up in conversation, it seems that people are torn between working with their branding agency or an interior designer on this piece of the pie. So, let’s talk a bit about the two.

According to the dictionary, “interior design is the art or practice of planning and supervising the design and execution of architectural interiors and their furnishings.”

So, then what exactly is environmental branding and how does it compare to interior design?

According to the dictionary of Nice Branding Agency,

"Environmental branding communicates a brand's position and value through the three-dimensional platform provided by your physical space.

At Nice Branding Agency, our interior branding experts harness the brand narrative and visuals and weave them through each and every touchpoint, connecting with customers on a deeper level and conveying key messaging along the way. Our process creates a customer journey that is undeniably compelling and completely aligned with all other elements of brand support."

We do this by employing interior design techniques, but within a branding perspective. Call it environmental branding or interior branding. 

Environmental branding is not interior design. It's more strategic than that, but it includes that. It's the practice of bringing your brand to life within your physical space.

Environmental Branding At Work

Let’s look at a couple of examples of environmental branding that you’ve likely experienced firsthand.

First up: The Apple Store. As you step into the Apple Store, you’re immediately transported to a world in which everything is austere, organized, and easy to navigate, which correlates with their products and aligns with the brand overall. You’re essentially immersed in the brand as you enter the store. No one can argue that the interior and exterior of this store is a branded environment, and not simply the result of interior design.

interior branding apple store

Next, let’s look at Anthropologie. When you walk into an Anthropologie store, you’re enveloped in a space that’s cozy, hip, and curated. Just like the items and clothing they sell. Anthro also throws another layer into the environmental branding mix — smell. You would be able to tell you’re in the store, even if you were blindfolded. It’s a similar situation over at Abercrombie. You might even be able to smell it just reading this. Once again, the space is an extension of the brand. It’s interior design, but done in a manner that is strictly aligned with the brand’s overall visual direction and brand attributes.

anthropologie environmental branding

Another space that’s completely aligned with the brand is Starbucks. You could be in a Starbucks location in any part of the world, and you’d know where you were. Even if the Siren wasn’t out front. Some store footprints are larger, some are smaller, but they all have been infused with the brand at every touchpoint.

starbucks environmental branding

A final example is the Kiehl’s retail stores. According to their website, “Kiehl’s was founded as an old-world apothecary in New York’s East Village over 150 years ago.” The interior of their space takes on the vibes of an ancient apothecary, but it has been updated to reflect the current brand and to connect with its target.

kiehls environmental branding

So, How Does Nice Branding Agency Do Environmental Branding

Most often, at our interior branding agency, we start with Foundational Branding before we move into Environmental Branding.

As we move into Environmental Branding, our interior design team identifies opportunities within the customer journey that have the power to impact the customer. Then we creatively and strategically weave the brand through each touchpoint utilizing both graphic and interior design techniques.

Sidenote: We understand the investment involved in implementing an environmental design. So, we want to make sure that what we are recommending is being recommended for a reason. This is why we recommend doing Foundational Branding first, so that we can align the environment with your positioning, brand attributes, and visual direction.

Then, we start to map out a plan. Literally. We create a map from your floor plan.

We will use a floor plan with seating layout, provided by your architect or general contractor. First, we pinpoint the customer touchpoints, and then begin to strategize on how they can have the most impact with the guest. We map out what will go where in terms of wall graphics, lighting, furniture, floor transitions, and more. This process is one that is best done by a interior branding professional, as interior design won’t be able to necessarily capture the essence of your brand in every selection.

restaurant interior branding agency process

Once we have the branded interior design plan mapped out, we present our plan for wall color and treatment, flooring, fixtures, lighting, countertops and risers, tables, chairs, front desks, point of sales, bathrooms, doors, graphics, and more. The individual items selected will be specific to the type of business and the brand.

When the interior selections are approved by our client, we walk through them with the client’s architect to bring them to life. The architect may or may not do 3D renderings; however, if a client is anticipating rolling out a replicable concept, the renderings are advised.

top interior branding agency
top interior branding agency

Another option would be to have the Nice Branding Agency team create perspective drawings to provide a more direct vision of the space in 3D form.

As the architect moves forward planning, sourcing, and purchasing all elements, our team of environmental branding professionals will take a consulting role through the build. This means that as materials are unavailable or not ideal due to budget or application, the Nice Branding Agency team is available to weigh in on alternatives.

This process results in award-winning, branded interiors that resonate with customers and tell the brand’s story through the physical space.

A Note About Signage

A big part of environmental branding is signage. Wayfinding signage. Exterior signage. Point of purchase signage. You know, the things that help people get around the space seamlessly.

Typically, a sign company would fabricate and install the signage within and outside your space.

However, a branding professional should be responsible for selecting the application, medium, and design for each sign. There are some instances where legal or contract requirements dictate very few options for exterior signage. These restrictions should be reviewed, assessed and oftentimes challenged.

An experienced interior branding agency should be able to advise you here. Then, once the boundaries are in place, your branding team will advise the sign company to ensure that all exterior and interior signs are constructed to align with the brand.

This means that while a channel lit sign might be what the sign company is pushing you toward, a die-cut metal sign with gooseneck lighting might be more in line with the brand. Something to think about.

Similarly, while you may have your efficient heart set on a digital menu board, a letterboard with individually interchangeable letters might be more in line with the visual direction.

Sometimes strict adherence to the brand direction takes a little grit to implement. And at Nice Branding Agency, we don’t back down easily — especially when it’s on behalf of your brand.

Finally, Why Invest in Environmental Branding?

At this point in the discussion, you may or may not be fully committed to the importance of your environment. Let’s just put it this way: If you build it, they might not come.

You heard that right. We’re no Kevin Costner, and this is no field of dreams. We are in a cutthroat era where social media has made it such that appearance is everything. Your brand has got to be completely and utterly on-point in order to have any chance of succeeding in this world, and your physical space plays a huge factor in appearance.

Just take this example below. Here’s your basic burger joint. One with branding and one without. Which looks more appealing? Which is attracting more people? We rest our case.

nice vs not nice exterior

Ready to work together to carry your brand throughout your physical space? Contact the Nice Branding Agency girls to get started bringing your brand to life inside and outside your space.