Branded Placemaking and Design
Though a preference for authenticity is often attributed to millennials, it is certainly not limited to their generation. As DLR Group’s Experiential Graphic Design Studio (XGD Studio) works in step with architects, interior designers, and our Innovative Technology Design Group, we see a growing demand from end users to feel a personal connection to the spaces they inhabit. As my colleague Matthew Heller recently explored, the future of spaces where we live, work, and play are changing from vanilla environments to ones that support diverse communities. Whether it’s in the suburbs, or part of an urban revitalization, authentic branding for a space can help set it apart from others around it, and instill a more tangible sense of place for users.
So, what does it mean to create an authentic brand? In experiential graphic design, it means looking at a multitude of factors to help us tie a place back to its location, and ground a brand organically. This is especially true in more suburban areas, where brands often run the risk of feeling forced or inauthentic. We find that people who migrate from urban cores to suburbia are still seeking places that have a distinctive flavor, that feel like a destination spot. When we brand newly-constructed or renovated spaces, such as a lifestyle center, we seek out existing local elements that have been around for decades to help formulate a space’s organic brand.
Riverpoint Center experiential graphic design in Chicago by DLR Group.
Our approach to creating this accelerated identity requires extensive research to understand an area and its people, to help guide our choices. For example, recently designed branding collateral for a suburban lifestyle center built on what was once farm land included discovery and interviews with farmers and landowners who once lived on the site. A deeper understanding of the richness and history of the location provided cues for a physical brand experience that reflects its past, and feels grounded in an authentic identity. Authentic brands can also extend an aesthetic beyond the building itself. Brand consistency that permeates throughout both the digital and physical spaces – from the signage to wall graphics, from public seating to the sidewalk –feels effortless and, pervasive yet subtle. Our goal is to work within the architectural design to tell the story of the space, bringing in unique design elements that call back to the brand and reinforce its role in creating an authentic identity.
Branding development for Riverpoint Shopping Center in Chicago by DLR Group.
What our efforts ultimately achieve are places where people want to go, and be. Society is constantly connected via social media, and if the brand of a space is engaging, it can help connect people to that space before they’ve even physically been there. A positive virtual first impression can encourage these users to experience the space in real life, driving traffic and enhancing the likelihood for economic success.
Authenticity plays a big role, both in brand storytelling, and in the consumer experience. Ultimately, whether the brand informs the architecture, or the architecture informs the brand, DLR Group designers are always striving to create a positive and enriching experience for our clients and users. Each of our projects have a story to tell and, when we offer it in an authentic way, it becomes a story to remember.
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