Hallway enhanced by environmental graphic design, interactive arrows on walls and ceiling

Image Source: G2

Signage is an ever-present feature of how we navigate the world. The importance of these location markers is often overlooked, as signage takes several common forms such as street signs, wayfinding, monuments, vinyl, and more. However, this can be advantageous. Signage is incredibly effective at sending subliminal messages to individuals, priming them for a positive relationship with your business.

How is this possible? 

A fundamental aspect of signage is environmental graphic design, which dictates how signage interacts with its viewers and design ecosystem. Creating a personal connection between individuals and their environment goes beyond the basics of graphic design: we want to design the experience using the appropriate design philosophy. By connecting the information to the viewer, continuously providing a designed environment, and consistently narrating the journey, environmental graphics will enhance communications regarding your company’s personality and values.

1- Connectivity

The first and most vital aspect of environmental graphic design is the ability to relay information to viewers. Warning, identification, directional, and honorific information are examples of the knowledge viewers want to discover about their environment. Signage often works together in a close area to reassure visitors that relevant information is readily accessible.

Information can be communicated with more than just words on a panel and branded logos. Audiences can quickly gather information that is implied through symbols and shapes These symbols can take many common forms of concise communication:

  • Direction: arrows, simplified maps
  • Prohibited Activities: circles with superimposed X’s
  • Areas of interest: crosses, human stick figures, transportation

2- Continuity

The information on a sign would seem out of place to viewers if the appearance of the sign was disconnected from its surroundings. The information on a sign is much stronger when it is seamlessly intertwined with regard to form, finish, material, color, context, messaging, intent, and scale. This will all combine with other noncommunicative design elements like architecture, landscaping, and subtle design detailing to create an emotional and personal connection to your brand. Signage artfully speaks to the intangible aspects of the branded area, strengthening your clients’ perception of your business’ reputation.

Designers generally pitch multiple sign package concepts to ensure the essence of the brand meets the design elements surrounding it. This includes every design aspect of the sign, including dimensions, materials, printed graphics, and even what direction viewers are expected to view and approach them to ensure appropriate sight lines. The symbols that are used in the informational aspects of signage should be designed to match the tone of the brand or local community.

3- Consistency

Occasionally, signage can be distracting with irrelevant information or artwork that does not match the environment. If the sign has too much information on it, viewers can become overwhelmed, confused, or retain little to no information. Similarly, jarring design elements will monopolize your visitors’ attention and detract from other design elements from the branded area. Strong negative reactions to ineffective signage take away from your brand message and cause reputational damage as visitors are immediately repelled from visually unattractive signage.

The signage package must be quickly and easily understood. Powerful signage systems take into account how visitors are often rushed and cannot waste time deciphering confusing signage. This subtle design consideration allows signage to be more accessible to audiences, increasing the approachability of the area as visitors feel equipped with knowledge of their surroundings.

For example, patrons must quickly infer navigation around airports and hospitals. Implying safety is a detrimental factor in an individual’s reaction to the environment, especially when people might be in a hurry to get to a particular location.

Successful signage fosters the interactions of what the location has to say to consumers. Your property will be best equipped to provide adequate connectivity, continuity, and consistency by thoughtfully designing the customer’s experience. Graphics expand the knowledge of the viewer by providing information in high-activity areas such as desired locations, various warnings, unique environmental qualities, and so on. However, an elite signage package will utilize environmental graphic design to bridge intangible branding elements to the tangible world of viewers. This is encapsulated in a system that is relevant and cohesive with its surroundings.

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