How Environmental Graphic Design Turns Visitors Into Followers: Using EGD to elevate your message

In today’s tech-focused world, we often get caught up in the many ways to communicate digitally – through websites, emails, social media, advertising…you name it! Any “half-savvy” business or organization has an online presence and it’s noisy out there. Meanwhile, “whole-savvy” businesses and organizations are turning to Environmental Graphic Design as a way to speak louder, control the message and making a lasting impression leveraging the experience in their physical place.

For those of you who are less familiar with the term, Environmental Graphic Design (EGD) is graphic design for physical spaces. At some point, you’ve probably encountered EGD without realizing what it is. Think of signage at the grocery store, exhibits at the museum, or wall graphics at a corporate office – there are countless examples.

EGD - Sketch

Whether it’s a retail center, music venue or educational institution, EGD gives you the opportunity to design how your place makes people feel.

EGD embraces many different design disciplines, including graphic design, architecture, industrial design and landscape architecture, and those who practice it are educated in a myriad of these disciplines. That said, EGDers are not only concerned with the aesthetics of the work, but also what the design communicates.

Companies and organizations have more tools at their disposal to communicate their message than they may realize. For example, those with field offices or other permanent structures on site can use interpretive installations to build the connection, camaraderie, and loyalty to the brand despite geographic separation. These installations can take many forms, from a simple graphic wall to a multi-touch-point interactive installation with video monitors. The method is simply a vehicle for the message, so a good consultant will always recommend that you start with what you want to communicate and then decide how.

For example, at RPM International, they employ several levels of communication. In their corporate facility, they dedicate a wall to their mission statement and commitment to sustainability, supported by an interactive screen that allows users to explore the green retro-renovation of their headquarters in Beachwood, Ohio. In the lobby, visitors are greeted by a large wall-map depicting the landmark efforts on the project site and a monitor with real-time data on building performance. Near the employee entrance, framed photos of world-class projects that utilized RPM-company products remind people of the final outcomes of their hard work. Dynamic and easily updated, these areas serve as an inspiration and demonstrate that the company is making a difference “out there.”

EGD programs like this one are practical because they not only build pride within the walls of the company or organization, they also impress upon visitors and clients.

Lower-tech options can also work well, such as monitors with hero slides that feature different messages and graphics to accommodate a range of audiences. Full wall graphic prints can be wallpapered to almost any surface to share a mission, story or timeline. Pop-up displays can be lower cost and have the added benefit of being portable. This particular approach is ideal for road shows where ambassadors tour various sites and share the news and vision in person.

And what about the folks who rarely visit a permanent office? There are numerous opportunities to bring the message to them too. Interpretive kiosks can tell stories wherever you like and are often used in park systems and along trails. Vehicle wraps are popular for cities and communities, construction crews or just about any other business or organization that has vehicles or equipment out on the roads. Even conveying your brand in apparel can foster a feel-good culture, like they’re part of larger entity, even when they aren’t present in the office.

The most successful on-site environmental graphics programs start with two key ingredients: (1) a clear understanding of the messaging you want to get across and (2) a champion to carry the project through. Design consultants can be creative with execution depending on budget and space/capacity. If the space is larger, or is comprised of a series of spaces or surfaces, you have an opportunity to not only convey your message, but to create a unique experience. Consider how you can build the journey, perhaps laying a foundation with a mission statement wall and taking the user through levels of information, demonstrating process or history. This may culminate in a feature wall that demonstrates your company’s overall impact.

In a world where we have to fend for people’s time, attention and loyalty, EGD is a great way to communicate your brand and vision effectively. And there are countless creative ways to bring it to life in your space

Design Consultant


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