8 New Branded Environments You Can Learn from Now

Branded environments are the ultimate asset for companies that understand the value of expressing their brand in everything they do and every place they do it. Branded spaces are also a high-growth segment for the design profession. What makes a successful branded environment, and what can you learn from the newest crop of branded environments out there? We asked the designers leading SEGD’s Branded Environments (Be) Workshop what is inspiring them right now, and what YOU can learn from the branded spaces they admire.

You’ll hear more at the Be Workshop August 20 in Los Angeles! In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at the secrets to success in branded environments!

Building on (his)story
Katie Sprague, RTKL

“I recently experienced the new Chicago Athletic Association Hotel in Chicago,on Michigan Ave across from Millennium Park. It was actually an old social/athletic club for men only, built in the 1890s, when people measured their social status by the clubs they belonged to. The Venetian Gothic landmark had been vacant for many years and had fallen into disrepair.

“John Pritzker, the son of Hyatt founder Jay Pritzker, bought it and decided to completely renovate it and convert it into a hotel. It took years, three times the original budget, and I heard that every single thing that could be refinished was done so with great detail. 

“The amazing thing about staying there was that the experience felt both historic and incredibly current at the same time. It was cleverly orchestrated by a talented brand designer who respected the historic style and added the context of cool. The interior design, the graphic design, the uniforms, the rooftop bar, the drinks… Everything combined to make my stay a really interesting and unique (and branded!) experience. And there was a shared sense of social benefit, that somehow we were all a little part of a noble cause, the saving of an old gem and its re-purposing for the modern age.”

--Katie Sprague, RTKL,will lead the Be Workshop session titled “State of Be.”

Capturing brand essence
Graham Hanson, GHD | Graham Hanson Design

“We love the work we’ve done with Google over the past six years, capturing the essence of the culture in so many ways in so many different offices and regions. Google’s cultural brand is well defined by their "10 things" (Google it!). You'll see that much of our work is guided by these 10 things, one of which is, You can be serious without a suit.

“Our work for Panasonic captures the power of what two-dimensional graphics can do very efficiently to illustrate brand purpose and culture within a large environment.” 

--Graham Hanson, GHD | Graham Hanson Design,will lead the Be Workshop session "Be at Work."

Creating delight every step of the way
Lucy Holmes, Holmes Wood

“The whole King’s Cross site(the massive mixed-use development under development in London) makes you smile with the thought, idea, detail, and execution. It is all about creating a destination of fun combined with great design and materials. The development responds to the idea of the best way to transform an urban area while improving the lives of the people who live and work in and around it. It is about partnerships with local people, authorities, and communities. It feels like it is all about people and at the heart, a sense of play. We are working on all of the wayfinding and sign design for the entire public realm (in development at the moment).

“The Alexander McQueen exhibition Savage Beautyat the Victoria and Albert Museum really does transport you to another world. You feel like you’ve been granted a privileged insight into the mind of the designer and his unique approach to fashion.”

--Lucy Holmes, Holmes Wood,will lead the Be Workshop "Be Playful" session.

Constantly evolving
Simon Borg, Populous

“The Aesop approach to branding is a direct extension of the retail chain’s brand ethos. No one store is the same; they evolve and adapt to each location and environment, whilst maintaining the integrity of the Aesop brand. Aesop prides itself in this close, habit-forming relationship with their neighborhood—physical and spiritual. 
Like all great branded environments, remove the product from shelves and the name above the door and the space still feels like Aesop.” (Aesop store design: March Studio. Locations: Melbourne, London, Paris, Los Angeles)

Starting from scratch
World Architecture Festival (WAF) London

“In terms of brand experience and branded environments, WAF was starting from scratch, except for its existing Eames-style W form. We used that form to create a signature architectural environment—rather than a surface branded/logoed space. The aim was to design an experience that can be replicated in different locations, and it was important that it be re-usable and easy to assemble and transport.

“The design succeeded largely due to its innovative structural forms, display methods, and dramatic lighting. A honeycomb card W was built to 8m high to provide a focal point, an anchor to the various activities, and a screen to divide the space. Innovate display methods included magnetically suspended submissions that ‘float’ off the floor and walls.” (Design: Populous Activate. Location: Ambika P3 - Westminster University, London)

More than a name
O2 Arena Naming Rights Activation

“One of the most challenging aspects of the design process involved the integration of the naming-rights sponsor’s brand identity into the fabric of the architecture and customer experience. This was not just about rolling out an existing set of brand guidelines, but extending the brand into a form, materiality, and use not previously considered.

“The design objective was to develop a brand language that was both a platform for brand engagement and a way to seamlessly integrate brand into the architectural expression of the building, creating a fully connected experience.” (Design: Populous Activate. Location: North Greenwich, London)

--Simon Borgand his colleague Brian Mirakian,Populous Activate, will lead the Be Workshop session entitled "Be(ing) a City."

>>Hear more of these brand stories at the SEGD Be Workshop August 20 in Los Angeles!

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