What is Environmental Graphic Design?
Think of your favorite book as a child. It probably has a storyline that is expertly woven together, pages that are intentionally written to captivate your thoughts, and illustrations that are beautifully drawn to bring those pages to life. When done correctly, those factors can transport you into the story itself, creating an unforgettable experience.
That’s environmental graphic design.
Environmental Graphic Design (EGD) employs architectural elements such as colors, typography (fonts), patterns, materials, images, themes, and messaging to tell a story within a physical space and then tightly integrates that story with its users.
In today’s built environment, EGD weaves through many professional disciplines: interior, landscape, architectural, and industrial. However, all of these focus on the same task of communicating the organization, information, and functionality of a specific space.
An iconic representation of environmental graphic design is an Apple store. Apple’s brand image is expressed as sleek, modern, and top of the line. Their store designs are meant to mimic that image from the tables and displays, right down to the available products inside.
Whether we realize it or not, Apple has hand crafted that experience for us in hopes of eliciting similar emotions that will ultimately strengthen their brand’s overall persona.
While Apple’s environmental designs might be easy to identify, ordinary examples may include exhibit and retail signage, architectural graphics, digital technologies, public installations, or interior and exterior designs which transforms a space into a truly branded environment to create a more engaging and delightful experience with the people who interact with it.
Two common examples of environmental graphic design are wayfinding and placemaking systems for entities such as transportation utilities (airports and subway stations), hospitals and clinics, universities, shopping malls, etc.
Wayfinding & Placemaking
Simply put, wayfinding signage helps you get from Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible. This type of signage literally helps you “find your way.”
Wayfinding signage is integral to any environment; especially to those who are experiencing that space for the first time. A professionally designed wayfinding sign system fits into the surrounding environment by effectively balancing visibility and brand identity.
Traveling abroad? How would you find your flight if you didn’t know where you gate was?
Driving to another city? How do you know where you are?
Need to find your hotel room? What if none of the doors were labeled?
Wayfinding signs serve to orient people before guiding them through their surroundings and enhancing their understanding of their new environment. These navigation solutions allow people to travel safely, securely, and with ease.
There are four main categories of Wayfinding Signage; each answering different kinds of questions:
Where am I currently?
Where am I going?
When does your store open?
Do you have wifi?
How much does it cost?
Can I park here?
What’s the speed limit?
Where’s the Exit?
With the confidence derived from the wayfinding signs, Placemaking allows the users to further explore and interact with the environment.
As a design principal, placemaking aims to define how the space unfolds to enhance the user’s experience. Once they know where they are and any other relevant information, additional architectural elements shape that experience to achieve the brand’s vision. Check out some of our Wayfinding Projects:
What is Experiential Graphic Design?
Environmental graphic design can be further refined with a more intentional focus on branding an environment. This refinement is known as Experiential Graphic Design (XGD).
Theme parks, professional athletic facilities and venues, corporate headquarters, and national museums heavily utilize XGD.
Experiential Graphic Design is the multidisciplinary approach used to communicate a brand by completely immersing the user within it; either directly or indirectly.
For example: Universal Studios – Google Headquarters – The National History Museum.
Every element within each of those spaces was painstakingly and intentionally built for that environment and its visitors to express the embodiment of the organization. Features such as landmarks, graphics, public installations, custom signage, and more are used to convey a cohesive culture with each brand’s uniquely dynamic flair.
How could your company use XGD to stand out? What are you trying to elicit?
– Newer commercial brands often want their designs to be modern and bold.
– Colleges and education centers aim to motivate and spark creativity.
– Coffee shops crave tranquility and expressiveness.
Whatever the expression, each element should work together to impart a singular theme, message, or perception to bring the built environment to life and create a memorable experience.
Check out some of our XGD work that we’ve created at the University of Georgia:
Much like other marketing assets (websites, billboards, advertisements), Environmental Graphic Design is an intricate part of a company’s overall branding.
At The Sign Brothers, our goal is to take your brand’s story and forge an immersive environment for its users. An environment built to:
– Connect vision with tangible solutions
– Communicate relevant information
– Organize users and direct their flow
– Negate confusion or ambiguity
– Support branding initiatives
– Deliver an unforgettable experience
As members of the Society of Experiential Graphic Designers (SEGD), we are constantly striving to grow and improve our methods and offerings by keeping a close eye on the industry and it’s trends.
Click our logo to get in touch with us today to bring our innovative ideas and expert execution to your brand through our imaginative designs, integrated production, and professional installation.