By: Donna Metallic As interior designers, our scope of services has evolved over the past five years and we have been engaged by our clients to develop a branding story that reinforces the culture and history for that client. This blog will focus on branding in the higher education market segment. The world of higher education faces many challenges. Ever-increasing tuition, emerging technologies that are not supported in the “old” building infrastructures and the wider variety of teaching & learning styles demanded by Generation Y students and younger faculty are creating pressure for change in everything from design of pedagogy to student break out spaces. While many higher education institutions are investing in new buildings and spaces in response to these challenges, there is a great opportunity for development of the brand of the institution throughout the campus interior spaces. We recognize space as a way to develop the brand, so we begin by first defining existing institutional culture, comparing that to desired culture, and then designing spaces to support the elements needed for change in the culture. Some come to the light faster than others. It is hard to change a culture with just space alone, and so the next level of change can be reinforced by creating compelling branded environments. A well-designed, branded environment expresses an institution’s core identity and the values students relate to. It supports an institution’s mission and values, and leaves a lasting impression by creating engaging spaces that enhance the user experience. It connects with current and potential students and allows them to visualize what they can achieve on campus and develop school spirit. It is a vital component of higher education marketing. The brand of an organization can be represented through design and furnishing elements that reinforce the culture, values, and even desired behaviors. Translating the brand into the interiors of a higher education institution is a powerful way to leverage the investment in space and guide decisions about its design. Branding is not just about applying environmental graphics of images and words to a wall. Elements of design, scale, proportion, line, pattern, and shape can also form the message at different scales within branded environments. Furnishings and technology reflect values and promote desired behaviors, too. Successful projects integrate design and branding to deliver spaces that engage the senses, communicate culture, and elicit engagement. The physical environment has the capacity to communicate a message to multiple audiences—employees, future faculty and students, and the community. The physical aspect of the institution should communicate the brand, culture, and values as soon as you enter the campus. This experience can be part of an integrated theme that engages the visitor and leaves a distinct impression. If you would like to talk about branding your facility, give us a call!