Wayfinding interior design combines branded aesthetics with subtle directions to create a turnkey foot traffic solution.

Top Ways to Integrate Wayfinding Into Your Interior Design For Branded Placemaking

Published on: February 13, 2020

Wayfinding is a functional necessity for any company. It’s how you get people from point A to point B without the need to hunt down personnel for directions. When properly implemented, it acts as a turnkey solution for foot traffic flow— but that’s not all it does. When integrated with interior design, branded wayfinding creates a subtle, more cohesive approach that improves the visitor experience.

Wayfinding signage and interior design professionals have traditionally operated independently of each other. But the result can often be a disconnected environment that does not reflect a ‘put together,’ brand experience. Unless, that is, you have wayfinding consultants who are also experts at working with multiple stakeholders to deliver on-point branded signage that meshes seamlessly with your interior design.

Wayfinding Interior Design That Combines Form and Function

Smart wayfinding with interior design strategies takes a team-oriented approach to creating a cohesive program. When working together, the team needs to ask “What are the needs of the people using this space?” From there, your signage design consultants can develop a wayfinding interior design solution based on progressive disclosure, consistent language, and scalability.  But you can only get the best results when you bring on a top signage design firm early in the planning.

Here’s how it’s done by the best wayfinding experts.

Companies with effective wayfinding interior design promote positive brand awareness

#1: Leveraging progressive disclosure

Progressive disclosure is a design philosophy that limits confusion by providing only the information the individual needs to know at a given decision-making point. It also allows you to reinforce your brand without creating an environment that’s too busy or loud. It’s a particularly popular strategy for larger office buildings, medical campuses, and airports around the world.

For Costa Rican residents, the Juan Santamaria International Airport isn’t just an airport; it’s also a community hub for events, fundraisers, and concerts. The challenge was to connect space within the airport to the community while also providing wayfinding advice for travelers. Wayfinding signs were positioned so that visitors could get general information at major decision-making points, like entryways and parking garages, and more detailed information as they moved closer to their destination.

In collaboration with multiple stakeholders, including other engineers and other designers, the expert signage design consultant worked with a color scheme that matched the city of Alajuela’s coat of arms. This color choice reflects local art and culture while bringing familiar branding to the interior of the airport. Now, whether it’s an airport gate, restaurant, or an event, visitors can find their way enmeshed in a sense of place.

#2: Using a naming structure familiar to visitors

Familiar terms simplify wayfinding interior design

There is nothing more frustrating than signs that are difficult to understand because they’re too industry-specific. This mistake often occurs in healthcare wayfinding where terms that medical personnel considers basic might not be so for patients and visitors. Department names like “neurology” or “obstetrics and gynecology” aren’t universally understood, especially for those who speak English as a second language. Medical providers can reduce confusion by providing a more straightforward naming strategy for visitors. This also helps to underline the brand by creating a wayfinding language for that facility.

The UCLA Medical Center in Westwood chose to take this approach when they created their naming protocol for their departments. An analysis of the functions of various departments helped guide them to names more easily understood by patients. The hospital was broken down into four color-coded zones so patients always knew their general location. These changes both simplified wayfinding and underlined the facility’s aesthetic by using a branded color scheme and naming structure.

 #3: Creating a consistent theme for scalability

Once a wayfinding interior design theme has been established, it's simple to add new signs as needed

Wayfinding is typically an ever-growing part of a business, as the business expands to new locations and space use changes. When deciding on a branded theme, it’s important to pick one that is easy to replicate down the road. This is especially true for municipal environments, where wayfinding needs to go on for miles. The strategy must also simplify navigation for out of town visitors and encourage them to explore the area.

When leaders with the County of Santa Clara wanted to update its image, wayfinding was a primary focus. They wanted it to be easy for visitors to find their way to county offices, while also creating a consistent branded experience. They adopted a comprehensive set of sign standards for use in all public-owned spaces, to ensure that the program would grow and change with the county. In those sign standards, they established very specific criteria related to signage colors, fonts, sizes, and shapes to allow for future sign creation while maintaining the municipal brand.

Partnering with Experts for Branded Wayfinding

When implementing any one of the above ideas to make your wayfinding part of your interior design, it’s important to work with experts who understand both the function and form of signage. These professionals review the existing aesthetic, as well as foot traffic flow, to determine areas of opportunity and build on them. The best wayfinding interior design must start with a comprehensive plan designed by a team of experts to ensure success.


GNU Group has decades of experience in comprehensive wayfinding working alongside interior designers so you can streamline foot traffic flow and highlight your brand. Our signage programs are scalable, flexible, and designed around optimizing the customer experience. For more information on our wayfinding signage programs, connect with our team.