Brand translation: Evolving a brand from 2D to 3D

A strong brand identity is crucial for any company wanting to make waves in today’s market, and this extends right through to the design of their signage, and how their brand is translated in the built environment.

In this article we highlight the vital steps to consider.

Understanding the context of the brand and its environment

It is important to understand how the audience will interact with a brand – an audience in a retail space will have very different needs from those experiencing a brand online.

Because each environment differs, the application of the brand design needs to change to suit individual environments based on factors such as demographics, where the location of the site is and who is interacting with the brand.

How will the space be used? Will the public be engaging with the space, as in a retail context or will it be for internal user groups such as in a commercial environment? A brand within a retail environment is directed to the consumer. However, branding within a workspace reflect the principles of the company and its culture.

It is important to look broader than signage to the function of the space and brand experience, and to uncover how the agencies are intending the brand to be perceived.

Understanding the brand essence and tailoring materials and finishes 

The selection of materials and finishes are vitally important, as it reflects on the brand values, demographics, brand essence and acts as the first impression of the brand in the physical environment. The chosen materials not only need to compliment the brand but also engage with and enhance the other elements in the environment.

A 5-star brand for example is reflected in the luxury materials that would be specified such as polished copper, bronze and brass with polished or gold finish options in order to reflect the premium brand.

For a more contemporary brand acrylic and polycarbonate signs provide the perfect solution with the potential for limitless design options, due to the wide range of colour options and colours that can be created to match a distinct palette.

The context of the brand can determine whether illuminated lettering and lightboxes need to be used to create additional ways to light up and highlight key selling points. Internally illuminated signage is hard to miss, especially at night, and colours look bright and crisp.

If a brand has a sustainable message then materials that feature a high level of recycled materials and upon the end of their lifespan can be fully recycled would be used, such as timber. 

Evolution of the Brand Mark

A brand is transformed from a set of 2 dimensional guidelines, to 3 dimensional forms by extruding, developing shapes, applying materials and finishes and exploring the correlation of brand mark and physical space.

Through the use of a multi-disciplined design team, the brand mark can be evolved into a suite of sign types and brand touchpoints. This approach allows for innovation and can often lead to creative and unexpected outcomes.

This is done through a range of innovative production techniques and processes such as:

  • Evolving the design specification across PMS colours, ensuring the colour breakdown and printing process match the requirements for the branding PMS colours
  • Perfecting colours via different intensity/opacity
  • Specification of finishes across paint, vinyl and composite materials
  • Illumination and ensuring colours are on brand when signage is non-illuminated and doesn’t differ slightly when signage is illuminated
  • Analysing viewing distance and position to determine optimum sign locations and sizes
  • 3 dimensional renderings to provide context and proof of outcome for approval
  • Prototyping for review and approval – ensuring that text is consistent, and the nominated size is sufficient for visibility

Prototyping, testing and collaboration throughout the design process drive the best fit for purpose design outcomes.

Designing for the various applications

Due to the varying platforms that a brand must inhabit, it is fundamental that a brand has a framework within which it can adapt to a wide range of situations.

A thorough understanding of materials, fabrication, engineering and manufacturing is essential. These details on how the different design elements are applied in a variety of situations should be documented in a comprehensive set of signage guidelines.

The guidelines are established as a set of instructions on how to apply the signage in different contexts, at different scales and so on. They outline typography, layout of graphics, colours, materials, construction detailing and templates which are used for application to a network. They aid in consistency of both manufacture and application and help maintain the integrity of the brand as it is rolled out.

Applying these principles will assist with creating a strong branded network. Each touchpoint will be consistent, fit for purpose and correlate with the brand essence.

The Blueprint team have been assisting the Bank of Melbourne resolve and develop new specifications for their signage to ensure greater brand engagement and uniformity across their network of branches. Innovative techniques have been devised to implement custom faces that allow their logos to be brighter and better illuminated.