entrance signage design

Top Four Visual Brand Strategy Tips to Ensure Successful Brand Integration

Published on: May 29, 2019

A visual brand strategy isn’t just about getting a good logo. It’s about looking at all your brand’s touchpoints and effectively communicating your company’s core vision to each and every one. A visual identity should resonate, and not just with your customers. It should be a focal point for employees as well. A holistic company identity with cohesive visual branding, both externally and inside your office spaces, keeps your company’s values top-of-mind across the board.

Consider the internationally-known brand Coca-Cola. Their rich, classic red background with Spencerian script all drive people to think of their company, even without seeing the logo. That’s because their marketing is based on a visual brand identity. From Atlanta to Shanghai, these brand elements are also included in Coca-Cola’s office spaces, imparting a sense of the company’s vibrancy and values to employees.

A critical part of creating this level of visual brand strategy in the workplace is expert environmental branding. Here are four tips on how you can better integrate architectural signage and graphics that establish your values without overusing your logo.

#1 Build Around Your Core Message

Your company’s mission statement is the foundation for the process of extending your brand identity to internal spaces. It may feel challenging to translate a statement into an aesthetic but, often, a simple component can tie the message to the design.

The Hanna Boys Center, a faith-based nonprofit that works to help at-risk youth find purpose and plan their futures, accomplished this strategically. The school’s mission statement is simple: to “changes the lives of at-risk, motivated youth through faith, education and caring.” While a cornerstone of this organization is faith, traditional religious icons or church-based designs may feel a bit too stodgy for today’s young people.

So the Hanna Boys Center updated its aesthetic by using stained glass from their chapel as inspiration in their donor recognition display, a key visual element for their campus. This plan modernized the message while paying homage to the schools’ faith-based roots. It’s a visual brand strategy that uniquely characterizes their mission, reminding all those who see it—from donors to administrators, teachers, and students—of the organization’s history and purpose as well as the future that they are helping young people create.

Through expert environmental design, like this, you can have the opportunity to use a variety of color, texture, and materials to convey your company’s core message broadly, too.

#2 Plan Environmental Graphics Early in the Visual Branding Timeline

Your environmental signage and graphics are the building blocks that establish your brand’s identity for internal stakeholders and, as such, you cannot leave them to the last phase of your branding implementation. This facet of the visual brand strategy has the most extended turn-around time, as you’re going to have to consider budget, permits, fabrication, material availability and more. The bigger your company is, the more crucial this rebranding tip is.

We can take a lesson learned from Uber. The company went through several logo redesigns in just a few short years. And, each time, the new branding had to be rolled out across their website and apps. Then, they were also faced with implementing the new branding across all offices, facilities, and their drivers. With operations in over 700 metropolitan areas worldwide, you can imagine the scale of the challenge.

This challenge can increase exponentially if you leave environmental signage and graphics to the last minute or tack it on as an afterthought when implementing a visual brand strategy. Make it a central part of your campaign.

#3 Establish Base Standards for Scalability

Visual Brand Strategy

GNU Group developed sign standards for Sutter Health, setting protocol for environmental graphics at all existing and future facilities.

Ambition is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s something to consider when implementing a visual brand strategy. Hurriedly purchasing custom graphics for each new office you open is common, but you need to ask yourself whether it is sustainable. If suddenly, your business expanded by five more locations tomorrow, would you be able to maintain your design standards without cutting back?

Sutter Health headed off this problem by planning smartly for their ambitious growth. The healthcare provider wanted to translate their brand message of trustworthiness, compassion, and affordability across their California facilities. To accomplish this goal while also achieving economy of scale and long-term quality control, they chose to implement sign standards. This allowed Sutter Health to set an underlying protocol for environmental graphics at all their facilities, no matter how many they open in the future.

Don’t let your visual brand strategy across multiple locations become plagued by inefficiencies. Plan for growth early on by implementing standards for scalability.

#4 Bring on Experts to Shore Up Gaps in Planning

There are many variables which need to be taken into account when bringing a visual brand strategy to life in the built environment. And a typical brand designer may not even consider them when creating a logo for print or digital. Implementing branding in built environments requires thought about the scale, visibility/readability, materials, finishes, environmental factors, maintenance of the program, and even code regulations.

That’s why it’s wise to bring on an environmental branding consultant to discuss the various ins and outs of your project. The best consultants will help you create a plan, and a budget, that your company can rely on—whether you’re branding your first building or your hundredth. They can help you understand all that goes into creating a genuinely effective visual brand strategy so that you can succeed in the present and plan for the future.


GNU Group can be your partner in establishing your visual brand strategy by creating a comprehensive sign standards program that is efficient, cost-effective and designed to grow. Our sign standards program, combined with top designers, will ensure that all your offices embrace a cohesive brand message. For more information, connect with our team.