commercial real estate graphics

Three Elements of Commercial Real Estate Graphics That You Must Insist On

Published on: August 1, 2019

Buying a commercial property is a big investment. And you want to make sure you see returns from it. That’s why developing a new brand identity with fresh commercial real estate graphics is critical. After all, your goal is to keep the budget under control while differentiating your building in the market to attract the right tenants so you achieve optimal returns from the investment. 

Leveraging commercial real estate graphics can help you create a pleasing environment and rebrand quickly—if it’s done right. You have plenty of options for who to bring on board for the project but, whichever firm you engage, should be able to jump some critical hurdles in achieving the best results.

Three Non-negotiable Commercial Real Estate Graphics Elements 

You may spend a lot of money on architecture and upgrades, but there’s only so much you can do with that. To stand out in the market, you need to be able to create a space that portrays your building’s brand but also leaves room for individual tenants to show off theirs. These are the absolutely necessary elements you must insist on when choosing an environmental graphics and signage designer when transforming a commercial space:  

#1: Brand Differentiation

commercial real estate graphics

Tenants have a lot of choices about where to set up shop. Sure, your building’s location is important but, perhaps even more, is the ‘feel’ of the built environment. When properly presented, your commercial building’s branded experiences create a sense of professionalism that carries over to everyone who enters the building. It needs to be recognizable against all the other buildings while also resonating with the particular type of clientele your potential tenants engage. 

In downtown San Francisco, where commercial buildings loom large, it can be especially challenging to differentiate your brand to attract the best tenants. ONE CA, however, took on that challenge by partnering with a top environmental graphics and signage design firm to create an instantly-recognizable massive sculpture to proudly announce the entrance of their commercial building. 

The effect was so well-received, in fact, that not only did national and international corporations develop offices there, but it has also become a social media attraction. Tourists stop by to take a photo of themselves and post it on Instagram. How’s that for successful branding? 

#2: Branded Wayfinding   

commercial real estate graphics

It goes without saying that you are going to need to implement wayfinding signage in your commercial building, but you need to go a step further by branding these necessary elements. Branded wayfinding is a subtle but important way to create a unique sense of place for tenants and visitors to the commercial space. People need to feel confident that they know where they are going and feel like they belong there. 

During a building rebrand from a bland campus to an expansive commercial with broad tenant appeal, Rosewood Commons chose wayfinding signage to reflect the natural landscape around them. The muted shades of grey and white complement the bright colors in sculptural building IDs and super graphics present an overall brand identity that didn’t clash with the needs of tenants themselves and helped visitors more comfortably find their way. This commercial campus will continue to benefit from the creative design decisions of the firm they hired for years to come. 

#2: Long-term Budget Consideration

Project budgets often only reflect the cost of environmental graphics and signage acquisition and implementation, but you also need to consider the long term costs involved as well. Signage and graphics that look good on day one may not stand the test of time without ongoing, and sometimes costly, maintenance. A high-gloss, shiny finish on an environmental graphic that is meant to be touched, for example, may look good in the morning but will become a mess of fingerprint smudges and debris at the end of the day.  

Pruneyard Shopping Center focused on ease of maintenance when creating its signage design. They chose an aluminum-base with a paint finish for most signs. The aluminum base is capable of standing up against heat, rain and cold without breaking, while the medium brown paint finish hides dirt, debris and water spots. Internal illumination gives many of the signs a high-end aesthetic, but the materials and colors are strategically designed to look clean and fresh for years to come. 

All three of these elements are necessary for strong environmental graphics design to ensure an appealing aesthetic, pivot brand identity, and manage costs effectively—but not every design firm has a team with established processes in place to help you achieve them. 

Establishing Environmental Design in Commercial Structures 

Working with top experts to develop a master sign program ensures you have a consistent, well thought out sign design plan that makes budgeting and scalability easier. You need a firm that can provide a consultative approach to your commercial graphics program design and can even take on project handling from concept to creation. 

The process should start with a Sign Profile Analysis™ to understand the commercial property’s existing assets, identify opportunities for creative branding, and map out effective wayfinding. By planning your commercial real estate graphics with a proven process, you can achieve the best results—and potential ROI on your investment.


GNU Group can be the expert you need to establish the must-have elements of your commercial real estate graphics program. We take on the entire project, from initial design to implementation, to ensure your commercial property appeals to both tenants and the customers they serve. And it all starts with our proprietary Sign Profile Analysis. To discuss how we can help you achieve the best results for your commercial property, connect with our team.