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Finding Inspiration for Branded Design

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Margo Cochell
Graphic Designer, Branded Environments

Everyone on our Branded Environments team is essentially a storyteller – we create thematic motifs that start externally and continue throughout an environment. From an office lobby mural that welcomes guests to parking lot signage that provides wayfinding to their destination, visual communication and storytelling are the cornerstones of the user experience.

Effectively communicating the right message at the right time is critical for maintaining a space that’s safe and accessible. Storytelling design resonates with the user in a powerful way, creating a consistent language that becomes a silent partner along their journey: whether guiding a passenger through a crowded airport or helping a patient navigate through a hospital, we create signage, graphics, art, and design elements to complement the interior design and enhance the user experience.


Telling the brand story

As a graphic designer and artist, I often focus on abstract themes for our clients, creating and curating artwork that promotes culture, community, and positivity. The goal of any project is to build a human-centered experience that inspires productivity and joy -- creating a space that’s intentional and remembered, influencing how people feel when they enter a space.

Creating a visual language by uniting signage and artwork in an environment makes it easier for the viewer to absorb information about their space and develop a sense of the client’s brand and culture. Our team is excellent at looking at the big picture of our client’s space and telling a unique story individually crafted for the client.

For the Auctane office in Austin, for example, we created graphics that tell the shipping software firm’s company story and custom-designed digital art and illustrations inspired by bridges and paddle boarders found at Austin’s Lady Bird Lake.

Financial Company Austin_employee lounge

 Inspired by culture and sense of place

In college, our art professor reminded us to CBC ─ Constantly Be Creating ─ whether making art, absorbing art, or observing our surroundings, and learning from both the good and the bad. Designers can find beauty in every detail ─ a mitered corner, a thin brush stroke, the pattern an ocean wave makes when it strikes the sand … nature is the best teacher.

The local nature and music scene inspired the graphics for another Austin client — this time a global financial services company. Nuanced details resonate with the area’s culture including a guitar pick art installation and designed arrangements made from band instruments that reference the music scene. We also created custom wallcoverings featuring local flora and state flowers and real Austin concert tickets that span over 75 years of Austin’s most influential artists that reinforce a sense of community and belonging. 


Same tools. New Tricks.

An insatiable curiosity can unlock new perspectives. Revisiting projects, toying with existing tools, and testing new technologies offer new possibilities and layers to the storytelling process.  

On a recent project for a healthcare facility, the client requested a sculpture garden of giant Texas bluebonnets to create a beautiful outdoor respite space for staff and long-term patients to take walks. Our team worked with the client to find the perfect balance between abstract and recognizable, whimsical yet structurally sound. Once the art was developed, computational computer scripts calculated and generated the Bluebonnets in a 3D space to create multi-faceted designs for the giant glass sculptures representative of the wildflower.

The final selected design borrows heavily from design components in nature with open spaces to allow air to pass through the structure for wind loading and a conical base, allowing dichroic film sunrays to pass through the structure and shine on the viewer. The sculpture additionally features a steel support  “stem,” even including a bark-like organic perforated metal that wraps around the solid steel structure.

Seeing the Possibilities

The Branded Environments team created an engaging and history-focused graphics experience for Corgan’s London office that results in a seamless blend of old and new. The black and white photo collages merge founder Jack Corgan's early movie theater project photography with recent conceptual architectural renderings that had been created by the Corgan London team.

An office visitor might spot a futuristic rocket over a 1950s drive-in movie theater. The Branded Environments team also created a sketch typology of surreal "buildings" that exist on an imaginary plane. These isometric houses inspire creativity and free-thinking in architecture, encouraging our colleagues to think beyond the typical and explore new ideas. This dynamic graphic composition pairs castle-like facades with modern picture windows reflecting the outdoor views of London Bridge, the Tate, and Shakespeare Globe Theater to connect with the context of the neighborhood and create a sense of place. 


From dimensional art installations, sculptures, and large-scale murals to digital art, signage, and wayfinding, Corgan’s Branded Environments Team employs graphic design solutions and messaging strategies that more than elevate a space — they create culture, community, and connection. Ultimately, these design interventions ease functionality and even add moments that delight and inspire through the user journey — adding richness to the story we experience as we move through spaces. They inform our outlook, emotions, perspectives, and understanding of the world around us while providing a powerful opportunity to make that experience more human and more beautiful.

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