During the worldwide lockdown, industries and consumers have grown accustomed to a new and exciting way of showcasing and experiencing brands. Everything from product launches, to conferences, and even sports events have been experienced virtually from the comfort of the home. However with the reopening of society in the coming months, people are getting excited to also take part in tangible experiences! With that in mind we thought that now would be a great time to take a look at some typical considerations undertaken when designing public branded spaces, both generally and with a nod towards a more mindful future.
There is a lot to consider when designing a brand experience, the below are just a small selection of these!
Whether it’s a pop-up shop on the high street or a corporate event, choosing the right location to represent the brand is important! Consider how your location affects lighting and how the space changes throughout the day and at night. If you’re in a quieter location, how do you entice people in with either height of the build or even social media pointers. How noisy is your location – will you get sound bleed from neighbouring businesses or brands?
The brand should always look its best no matter the scale of the event, and the process of interpreting a brand into an environment should bear in mind the materials being used are the right solution, whether they are being printed or fabricated. The durability and texture of materials that may see a lot of handling or other contact, and how they will appear under different lighting, whether it is direct sunlight or the directed lights of an evening or night event is also worth bearing in mind. Consider using sustainably produced materials that can be repurposed and reused beyond your event date.
The amount of foot traffic and the type of experience being catered towards. For example, a booth at a busy trade show may wish to provide a faster turnaround time between visitors than a relaxation space in a music festival, and a number of aspects of the design will subtly inform visitors on how to treat the space. People will stick around longer if there is comfortable seating, low tables and cosy nooks! A space expecting a lot of traffic will benefit from higher tables, minimal to zero seating and a more exposed layout, gently encouraging visitors to not linger too long and allow others to enjoy the experience. Where there will be specific locations in the space that people will gravitate towards, it is worth considering that there be open routes in, out, and around the area that don’t create chokepoints and impede flow – for example customers emerging from a bar queue at a festival or cultural event should be presented with somewhere inviting to enjoy their drink that leads them away from the bar and keeps the exit from the queue clear.
This ties into the expected footfall of the space. The message should be visible, and while branding should maximise its potential, in places expecting high traffic important calls to action or directional signage can be lost if they are obscured by eager visitors and should be placed above head-height wherever possible! Experiencing a space is approached by the designer as following a narrative of discovery; Where does the story begin and what will visitors see first upon entering the location, and what is the literal and metaphorical path they will they feel naturally drawn along. Often designing spaces using 3D software can highlight unforeseen considerations – for example an elevated position overlooking the environment may reveal a branding opportunity on the top of a structure, or the positioning of artwork may be informed by the most optimal visibility from different approaches.
Of course these experiences should be enjoyed by all, so it is important to be aware of those with disabilities. Routes into and throughout should be wide enough for wheelchairs and free of unexpected obstacles. Additionally in spaces which are expected to be crowded, visibility below waist-height is reduced and smaller signage or items of decoration may represent trip hazards. Electronics should be placed with an awareness for cable routing in mind, and emergency exits and restrooms should be clearly signposted where appropriate.
Consider adding a quieter ’sensory’ space for people with sensitivity to overstimulation from noise and light’.
Lastly, during to transition to post-pandemic normality, care should be taken by incorporating the usual features of social distancing, such as generous spacing in queues and clear partitions for the safety of staff and guests, as well as facilities for sanitisation. A hybrid approach to events may carry forward for some time for certain , with options for virtual experiences that operate alongside the physical ones.
Once a strong outline of the goals for the branded environment has been settled upon, its time to start creating! In Verve, the designer will where possible travel to the chosen location with the production team to get familiar with the location, taking reference photographs and making laser measurements. These are backed up by architectural plans where available, and for larger outdoor locations satellite imagery is often of great use in planning the layout of features.
All of these details, together with brand artwork and associated structures are assembled in 3D design software to create an accurate, high-fidelity model of the final branded space. This can be used to create photorealistic images and even cinematic flythroughs that give a true-to-life representation of how the experience will look, which informs not only the client but is a great reference asset in the production stage. Sophisticated lighting simulation also helps establish what will be needed to direct the eye and create the best mood for the environment.
Verve is an agency celebrating 30 years at the top of the events, experiential and marketing industries. This podcast pulls from that wealth of experience, giving key insights from the past, tips for the future, and everything in between.
You can listen to the first episode of The Verve Experience here https://audioboom.com/posts/7880658-how-is-experiential-re-opening
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