Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

How to Incorporate Branding into Architecture

July 3rd, 2024 | 8 min. read

How to Incorporate Branding into Architecture

Print/Save as PDF

A building project is an opportunity for an organization to tell its story, demonstrate its values, and build connections. Branding is central to this goal, making it a crucial discussion during design. 

Our team has worked on numerous projects where branding was key, from corporate headquarters like Kreg Tool to athletic facilities like Kinnick Stadium. In our experience, the most successful projects seamlessly weave graphics, 3D elements, and multimedia displays into the architecture to create an immersive experience for occupants and visitors. 

To prepare you for your project, this article will discuss the importance of branding in architecture and a few pointers for success. 

The Importance of Branding in Architecture 

On the surface, branding and architecture may seem like separate disciplines. Traditionally, architects focused on building design, while graphic designers and marketing personnel incorporated branding elements. These distinctions have gradually dissolved as the design process has become more holistic and has incorporated different disciplines.  

While branding is important for almost any building project, some project types emphasize it more than others. Office facilities and corporate headquarters, for example, heavily focus on brand identity. In addition to promoting productivity, these facilities are designed to attract talent and customers.

entry of the Kreg Tool office with a branded sign

A clear visual brand can help companies with customer and talent attraction.

Branding is equally important to athletic facilities, especially at the university level. While their function differs from offices, these facilities also focus on recruitment and sales. A clear identity can help attract athletes, excite donors, and build a loyal, long-lasting fanbase. 

In short, branding promotes team building, reminding occupants they are part of a larger mission or legacy. It reinforces existing support for your organization while building excitement for the future. 

Advice for Incorporating Branding into the Design Process 

1. Discuss Branding Early 

Branding is not an addition to a building project or something to put off until the end of the design process. Instead, your organization’s mission, values, and story should be part of early discussions with your architect.   

Before starting design work, your architect should take the time to understand your goals, priorities, and your organization’s identity. They should also discuss potential storytelling moments and how these elements will fit into the building’s program. 

As you progress through the design process, details like the size of graphic elements or how technology will integrate into the space will become increasingly important. Nothing should feel tacked on or random. Early discussions help you weave your organization’s identity into the fabric of the building and ensure all elements feel thoughtful and cohesive. 

2. Consider Your Story 

When planning branding elements, consider the story you wish to tell and how it should unfold. 

For example, if you are bringing new clients into your office, what is the first impression you want to make? When giving recruits a tour, what talking points do you want to emphasize?

display cases with uniforms at Kinnick Stadium

Elements like display cases can help tell a larger story. 

Thinking through these questions will help your design team cultivate an experience for the visitors and find logical and effective locations for graphic elements or displays. Branding is not decoration. It should send a message to your audience and aid your organization’s overall goals. 

3. Work with a Graphic Consultant

A graphic consultant is an invaluable part of any project focused. This individual may have a contract with either the owner or the architect, though having the contract under the architect may be more effective.  

This approach creates a stronger working relationship between the two parties and more opportunities to collaborate. It also improves coordination. Under the architect’s contract, the graphic consultant can work with the larger consultant team to get power and data in the correct places, making it easier to implement technology and video components.  

A collaborative approach to graphics can also help with identifying items best handled during construction. Elements like display cases can be incorporated into the construction contract and built by a millwork contractor to integrate graphics into the larger project.  

A graphic consultant will start their process much like an architect. After learning about your project goals, they will create a program of necessary graphic elements.

a branded graphic in a bathroom at Kinnick Stadium

A collaborative relationship helps integrate graphics into the space. 

Communication between the owner, graphic consultant, and the architect is key. The graphic consultant needs to understand what the owner wants to display and the elements’ sizes. Owners should prepare by gathering information like photographs, text, and style guidelines to share with the consultant. 

Like any part of the architectural process, graphic packages involve reviews with the project’s stakeholders. You will receive cost estimates for graphic packages and can adjust the scope as necessary. 

4. Consider Timeliness 

Lastly, consider how branding will age and its potential to feel outdated. Although graphic elements or 3D displays are less permanent than other portions of the building, they can be a significant investment and should last well into the future.  

club seating at Jack Trice Stadium with the Iowa State logo on the floor

Use a more timeless approach for large graphic elements. 

For example, we recommend focusing on teams rather than individuals for large graphic elements, especially in sports facilities where teams constantly change. Individual accomplishments can be highlighted in smaller, rotating displays or graphics. 

We also recommend discussing your plans to change or rotate branding elements with your design team. How often the space changes will dictate its design, and your architect can plan the space to make these rotations easier. 

Prepare for Your Building Project 

Branding is central to the design of facilities like offices and sports venues. Eye-catching graphics, 3D elements, and multimedia displays can help tell your organization’s story, attract talent, and build loyalty. 

Effective branding fully integrates into the building’s overall design. Rather than a separate element, it is part of the architecture. Early discussions about your organization’s mission, your goals, and the story you wish to tell will lead to design solutions that make branding feel more seamless. 

Activities like visioning workshops and benchmarking tours can help you articulate your project goals and brand identity. Typically, these activities occur during pre-design and involve diverse stakeholders. Learn more by reading about empathy-building activities in pre-design