Environmental graphic design (EGD) is when we alter an environment with graphics to communicate a message of some kind.
These environments can be anything from a football stadium to an airport, museum, library, outdoor park, or other venue where people congregate. We use graphics in these places to illuminate areas, guide traffic, point out information, and promote brands. Without environmental graphics, the venues and places we visit would be far less interesting and more confusing.
Put simply, EGD gives a space character and utility.
There are three critical factors behind every EGD project that determine if it is a success or not. Put another way, there are three purposes for every EGD project; if the project fulfills these purposes and meets these criteria, it is a success.
Here, we’ll talk about each of these three purposes and how they contribute to making a space or venue better than it was before.
Directing traffic, or what some call wayfinding, helps send people to where they want to go in the shortest, quickest, and most convenient way possible.
If you’ve ever successfully navigated a busy airport, you have EGD to thank. Environmental graphics tell us where we are and how to get to where we’d like to be. They need to be clear and concise, otherwise they’ll only confuse visitors and ensnare traffic.
Promoting a Brand or Identity
EGD also helps to promote a brand or give an identity to a space.
We completed a project last year at the University of Mississippi that branded their athletic venues with not just their colors and logos, but with a sense of identity – a way of imprinting the brand on a space and bringing it to life.
Whether this is through graphics, text, or a combination of the two, environmental graphic design creates a sense of place that helps establish relationships between it and the people who visit the space.
Communicating a Message
Finally, great EGD communicates a message.
Sometimes, that message is in word form and is very specific, like “Go here for this,” or, “This place contains this.” Sometimes, the message is more generic and brand-based. But there is usually something that needs to be said, and EGD can help a venue say it.
The relationship between all three of these purposes is complementary. They all depend on one another, and they’re all linked. Great EGD understands this and incorporates each of these purposes into a unified exhibit.
With environmental graphics, a venue can come alive and serve its purpose better and more efficiently than before.