Creating Immersive Experiences Through Branded Interior Design

By Phase 3
June 29, 2023



Have you ever walked into a restaurant, expecting a casual dinner but immediately feeling underdressed and in the wrong place because the atmosphere was more formal than you expected? Likewise, when searching for a place to live, have you been enticed with promotions promising "luxury living," but the actual building did not offer any luxury amenities?


Unfortunately, this disconnect between the brand and the design of physical spaces happens often. It can be the primary factor in consumers forming negative opinions of a brand and taking their business elsewhere.


Your Brand is So Much More Than Your Logo

Your brand also includes the physical and digital places where your brand is showcased. This includes your physical locations like stores, offices, or warehouses and your owned media channels like your website and social media channels.


To be competitive today, companies should create a consistent brand experience across every customer touchpoint including product interactions, customer service, marketing campaigns, company culture, and more. Brand experience comes from a consumer's overall perception or impression when interacting with a particular brand or business and a positive brand experience can lead to greater customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.


Value Lies in Brand Experience

A PWC study reports that 42% of customers are willing to pay more when offered a friendly, more welcoming experience, especially for luxury purchases. When having a positive experience, 72% of customers will share their experience with six or more people. The more expensive the product, the more they are willing to pay.


This is especially important for retail brands. Forrester estimates that 72% of U.S. retail sales will occur in physical store locations through 2024. Customers are looking for an interactive shopping experience, almost like a special event just for them. The best store experiences involve all the senses, including sight, smell, and sound, along with clean, easy-to-shop displays and interesting décor that positively reflects the brand.


How Do Your Employees Feel When They Come to Work?

A branded interior helps your space reflect your company's mission, purpose, values, and culture. Your visitors should feel those essential elements of your business when walking through your door. This is crucial not only for sales and marketing but also for building an engaged workforce. An impactful branded environment can increase employee morale, productivity, and retention. You can use your physical space to create a strong culture that builds brand loyalty among employees and customers.


How Does Interior Design Fit With Your Brand?

Using interior design as a branding strategy is about evoking visitors' emotions. When created with thought and consistency, branded interiors can build trust with visitors and elevate your business. But when you take shortcuts, like placing your logo on a wall and calling it a day, you create confusion and cheapen your brand.


Interior designers can be valuable collaborators in branding your physical locations, and many designers are adept at working with a branding team. Together, the two disciplines can create an unbelievable space that showcases your brand, identity, and goals. They do this by layering design ideas that reflect a brand's identity, tone, and messaging into the design of the physical space. Your interior design/brand team will always be mindful of how the brand connects your environment to other aspects of your company, like your website and marketing materials.


For example, the Phase 3 brand team developed a visual identity that conveys timelessness and opulence for Piedmont House, a luxury multi-family high-rise overlooking Piedmont Park in Atlanta. The interior designers used this brand identity to create memorable brand touchpoints woven into the design of the property itself. The ginkgo leaf, crossed keys, and green/gold color palette incorporated throughout the interiors were designed by the brand team.


Who Leads the Charge?

Most often, the client will bring an interior design team to the brand team collaboration. It's most successful when both teams collaborate and connect on the larger goals.


Our work with Greystar is an excellent example of effective collaboration between interior design and brand. The brand team was developing a brand for a new property in Nashville. We had identified the target audience, outlined what is unique about the property, and defined the big overarching idea for the community. The result was a lively, playful, fun brand strategy and expression that would appeal to a younger target market looking to live downtown. Meanwhile, the interior design team started their design work using the nearby river as the theme. The resulting look was a little too traditional and did not take the brand into consideration. When the brand team noticed this happening, we were able to step in and collaborate with the interior design team to land on a design plan that still reflected the fluidity of the river but felt more aligned with the brand strategy.


Tips for Bringing Brand and Interior Design Together

Think of your interiors as an event and your visitors as guests to the event. Provide each visitor with the experience they are expecting. Here are some elements to consider.


  • First impressions are critical: Pay close attention to your entrance and the overall atmosphere of your location. Ask yourself, "What do I feel when I walk in the door?" It can be challenging to overcome an initial negative impression.
  • Capture all senses: Think beyond the visual elements and consider smell, touch, and even taste. For example, have you ever noticed that all Westin hotels across the globe smell the same? And all Doubletree Hotels have warm chocolate cookies available every evening? That is because Marriott understands that scent and taste are powerful tools that impact perception and elevates the guest experience in their hotel interiors.
  • Consider the importance of lighting: Thoughtful lighting can impact how and how much a shopper purchases in a retail location or how comfortable a patient feels in a hospital room. Designers use lighting in all kinds of business settings to create a mood, provide directional assistance, highlight products, or stimulate a specific action. For example, retailers use layered lighting to give displays greater depth and to inspire browsing. To create drama and excitement, they might use contrasting spotlights instead. Using certain fixtures can also set a mood, such as vintage chandeliers to create intimacy or track lighting for a more modern ambiance.
  • Don’t overstimulate your visitors: There is such a thing as too much branding. Create calm and serenity, not pressure. Don’t try to be so memorable that you flood the senses and overwhelm people. They will block all memories of the brand as soon as they leave.
  • But have a WOW moment: In this age of selfies and social media, a great brand strategy for your physical locations is to include an interesting visual moment worthy of a photo. What can you do in your space that would set your brand apart from the crowd in a viral moment? Build that idea into your interior design plan. Our team did that recently at the Chateau Elan Winery and Resort in Georgia. We created a larger-than-life wine bottle that visitors could get inside and snap away.


A positive visitor experience is crucial for any bricks and mortar business, and that experience starts the moment they walk through the door. The environment you create affects a visitor's perception of your brand. It drives their emotions and their actions. Through interior design, you can ensure those emotions and actions are the ones you want to evoke.


Phase 3 has worked with many clients to create immersive brand experiences in their physical locations that engage both internal and external audiences. Contact us today for more information on how we can elevate your brand within your physical footprint.