Branding your building: outside and inside

Some of the best branding opportunities are right in front of us — in the real world. But too often, they’re overlooked. As marketers, we take great care to promote our brands — online, on the air, in print. We’re strategic, creative, and purposeful. We want brand visibility and we work hard to get it — in digital, social, and broadcast channels. But what about how our brand appears on our buildings and in our lobbies, conference rooms, and hallways? Take a look at your exterior branding and your environmental graphics. What are you communicating? How does it compare to the competition? Could it be made more appealing?

Exterior branding and environmental graphics

What’s the brand impression your building entrance creates? What’s the quality, clarity, and visibility of the signs? Whether your organization has a human-scale street-level presence in a city or a highway-scale suburban presence in a corporate office park, your exterior branding and environmental graphics should be carefully planned, designed, and executed.

Most organizations spend hours analyzing, updating, and redesigning their websites to ensure an optimal user experience. What about exterior branding? We live in a digital world, but we walk around in a very real one. Make sure your exterior branding reflects your mission, embodies your values, and serves as a meaningful symbol. Like a well-designed website, your physical environment also makes an impression. The opportunity to inform, inspire, and engage is unparalleled. Seize it.

Interior branding

Do the internal spaces of your office reflect your brand? When investors, customers, and partners enter your space, is the experience visually aligned with the brand you have so carefully cultivated in the digital world? Most companies understand the strategic importance of a consistent visual style, but fall short on implementation, especially when it comes to interior spaces — lobbies, atriums, conference rooms, hallways.

What is the brand impression you want to create as people enter your space and move through it? Is it human-scale personal storytelling? Or stadium-scale brand fanfare? Whatever the answer, take the time to create content-rich, experiential spaces — so people will take the time to engage with your brand.


How do people orient themselves and find their way around your building, your campus, your headquarters? It takes a plan, specifically, a wayfinding plan.

In the same way that you need to plan how people will navigate the pages of your website, you need to plan how they will navigate the spaces of your building. Wayfinding is like so many things that seem simple but aren’t. When wayfinding works, it’s transparent and intuitive. When it doesn’t, it’s the center of unwelcome attention — just like a frustrating, complicated website architecture.

Effective wayfinding is based on a well-researched, well-engineered plan that anticipates directional needs and helps visitors find key destinations. Take a walk through your building today — as a first-time visitor — and see how well your wayfinding system works. If it doesn’t, doesn’t that reflect on your brand?

Make sure your brand is as polished in the real world as it is in the digital world. Exterior branding, environmental graphics, interior branding, and wayfinding deserve your focus.