Architecture + Agency = Environmental Brand Expression

By Jake Strelow / 07.20.2018

As a Creative Director in the discipline of Environmental Design, I’ve always recognized to some degree my unique position: I work with one foot in the world of traditional architecture, and the other in the world of a Production Agency at ITC. However, I could never really articulate why this hybrid vision was a benefit, until a friend’s question over lunch forced me to do so:

“Jake, why would I choose working with you at ITC over an architecture firm? What’s the difference?”

After letting the question hang in the air for a few very long moments—how do you measure moments anyway? Are seconds appropriate? Minutes even?—I responded with what I’m now, after the fact, summing up as a new, and in my opinion, buzz-worthy term:

“Environmental Brand Expression”

Before coining this new term just now, I used an example from my career to answer my friend and explain the unique benefit I brought to the table.

A few years ago, I worked on a project for Kicker car stereos, designing a series of exhibits for their visitor’s center. One of the areas in particular illustrated the point I was trying to make.

Tasked with designing a wall exhibit, I created a concept that very well could have been executed by an architecture firm, with no real agency perspective necessary: I assembled a series of Kicker car speakers on the wall to form a sine wave, visually representing the audio component of the product in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

But I didn’t stop there. I created an additional layer of experience that exemplified what I’m now calling “Environmental Brand Expression”—an added dimension that few architectural firms would have had the context to consider.

With my agency background conditioning me to understand brands and explore what makes them special, I investigated Kicker car stereos more deeply and found that they move greater quantities of air than the competition, creating a more powerful audio experience.

I designed this added layer of knowledge into the exhibit, extending the interaction a visitor could have with my concept beyond surface level visuals. Setting up motion sensors as the trigger, when a visitor approached the car speaker sine wave sculpture, they were surprised by an automated sequence, the wall speakers pushing out short, powerful puffs of air, recreating one of a number of different pre-programmed patterns.

The heart of our ITC brand is defined by a single statement: “We create experiences that feel like discoveries.” And this Kicker car stereo exhibit fits with that larger ethos. “Environmental Brand Expression” draws visitors in to deliver a true sense of discovery, providing a more organic and in-depth experience with a brand, resonating much more strongly than architectural design alone.

For more information on ITC permanent environments and experiences that feel like discoveries, contact Angie Bess.

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