Branded Environments – Do They Serve A Purpose?

by Kim Faulkner & Rofizano Zaino 15 May 2017

The term “branded environments” came about in the 1990’s when organisations recognised that “brand equity” could be translated, and transferred, into the built space.

As organisations and businesses started seeking ways of extending the corporate brand into the physical settings of their offices, retail or service outlets, the idea of using space as the physical embodiment of the brand started to take off.  

This could be achieved through architecture, interiors, lighting, furnishings in spaces such as retail stores, showrooms, trade-fair booths and office environments. However, components of a branded environment can include Environment Graphics, way-finding devices, signage based off a compelling brand idea and the identity system. At Activiste, we seek to leverage the effect of the physical structure and organization of space to help deliver identity attributes, personality and the key messages of the brand.

In other words, we seek to use brand environments as an extension of brand outreach. This serves more than a way-finding or communications purpose but is also for:

  1. Identification and adding distinctiveness to the built environment

  2. Building a deeper understanding of the brand and what it represents or seeks to achieve 

  3. Encouraging greater consideration and interaction with the space amongst users



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Beyond identifying the SANA centre, we created a series of new messages for SANA: From “Sing A New Anthem” (top) “Start A New Agenda” to “Simple Actions, New Aspirations”; the environmental graphics became a channel for communicating the brand’s purpose to “step up” to the challenge of being able to “rise above the influence” of drugs.

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Even the naming of the new SANA care centre as a “Step-Up Centre” was about sending a signal about SANA’s purpose in rehabilitation and the multipurpose area had to send the right vibes.

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When the Metropolitan YMCA invested in a refurbishment of their lobby and public spaces, the environmental graphics differentiated the newly designed space from other hospitality spaces. It made it uniquely theirs!



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In the refurbishing of SIM Management House into a start-up entrepreneurship hub, the energy and spirit of entrepreneurship is reflected in the way in which the secondary brand graphics were incorporated into the space.

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When Bank BTPN wanted to roll out its new pension banking branches throughout Indonesia, the messaging and environmental graphics for BTPN Purna Bakti, reflected the brand’s desire to signal that retirement was not an “ending” of one’s career, but the beginning of a new and fulfilling journey.

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What made Bank BTPN Sinaya branches stand out in the the premium retail banking market in Indonesia, is how the environmental design, though subtle used the Daya glow to demonstrate how Bank BTPN is increasing the significance of all Indonesians, and how they are customers, were contributing to this cause.

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The corridors of the SANA Step-Up Centre counselling rooms echoes encouragement to ex-drug abusers to rise about the negative influence of drugs to take control by thinking positively about their future. Environmental graphics make spaces where people congregate or pass-by, both distinctive and uplifting – they can help build a deeper understanding of your brand if you think about it creatively and strategically.



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What better way to showcase your brand vision in a way that adds to the overall aesthetics and decor of your public spaces. All too often corporate vision statements are featured “poster like” in common spaces. These do not allow staff and visitors to interact with the message. In the case of the Metropolitan YMCA, this feature wall with its vision statement is now an ideal photo-wall for snaphots within the premises.

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Taking the concept of a photo wall in common areas within a branded environment is the wall which encourages all staff and visitors to “Sing A New Anthem” at this highly successful “selfie wall” at the SANA Step-Up Centre. No one passing by it can resist jumping above the red line to show how they are rising above the influence, and making a difference to others in the process.


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The coffee house at the Metropolitan YMCA is simply signed “Taste” and incorporated seamlessly into the overall MYMCA space; thereby encouraging guests to sample what the brand has to offer, and in doing so, support their cause.


Do branded environments build greater understanding of and preference for your brand? The answer is a resounding “YES!” but only if they are considered as part of your brand experience. 


At Activiste, we believe in creating physical spaces which enhance people’s appreciation of the brands that have something worthwhile to say.



Kim has over 30 years of branding, marketing and design experience in Asia and has lectured and written extensively on the subject of branding, strategy development, marketing and design across the region.

Rofi has 20 years of experience in branding and design with Interbrand, FutureBrand and since 2014, with Activiste.