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Environmental Branding Is There an ROI for Schools?

January 28, 2021
Thermal Energy wall graphic from Froest Edge Elementary School designed by Bray Architects

After design plans are finished and furniture selections are underway, schools are often left to consider, whether to invest in branding installations. We often hear, “Will this really benefit our students?” “What is the real value?” “Is it really worth the cost?”

In fact, branding offers a valuable way to reflect school culture, reinforce a positive learning environment, and engage students in learning activities.


Environmental branding is a visual tactic through which schools can demonstrate the “why” behind the school, district, or greater educational community.

The ability to weave our clients’ stories into their buildings through branded environments creates an impactful and immersive learning experience that celebrates and shares their identities.

Students at the learning stair with a large environmental branding graphic of word clouds in the background
Mayville High School Learning Stair

Similar to branding in the business world, the “brand” of a school can be seen as the culmination of experiences, people, and culture that can be identified and “celebrated by those who align.” Likewise, the three elements of branding in business can be used to explore the benefit for schools1:


Providing a sense of community + improving engagement

Branding in schools has positive results in the following areas1:

The expected results of branding can be about bolstering school spirit, but it can also be about increasing community involvement and promoting inclusivity.

The use of graphic environmental branding installations helps to tell the story of the school’s promise – their vision for impacting the lives of students and community members and the values as an institution.

The result: a sense of identity that promotes better performance, student achievement, and community engagement.

Providing an immersive and interactive learning experience

Branding installations are not limited to school spirit graphics. Schools have the opportunity to combine branding and curriculum for an immersive educational environment.

Three photos in a strip, each showcasing a different school locker bay with distinct colors and text in different languages, at Friendship Learning Center.
Three locker bays with corresponding continent graphics. Asia: 3rd Grade (left); South America: 2nd Grade (center); Europe: 5th Grade (right).

The branding at North Fond du Lac’s Friendship Learning Center includes information about the seven continents, giving teachers dynamic resources to use in their lessons. Wall graphics for each pod include identifiable architecture, agriculture, animals and patterns of each corresponding continent, matching the color pallet of interior elements. Teachers were able to select their pod’s continent based on relevance of that geographic location with the grade’s curriculum, allowing teachers to evolve their curriculum to utilize the graphics for instruction. After the development of the design concept, teachers learned about the symbolism contained within the graphics. By providing teachers additional background of each, they can take ownership over the pieces and use them to educate students.

A mock-up of a screen showing information on the playground at Forest Edge Elementary School
Example of interactive branding screen at Forest Edge Elementary

Materials and technology can also be used to create interactive, hands-on designs that engage students, teachers, and the community directly. As part of a larger branding project at Oregon School District’s Forest Edge Elementary, an interactive digital screen provides hands-on exploration of the school’s net-zero goals, on-site energy sources, and energy-related curriculum.

The user experience compliments various immersive branding installations around the school, helping students further explore how energy is used and harvested by their building systems.

Branding installations can make a positive impact on both the school culture and teaching and learning potential. Thoughtful, strategic designs can inspire students and unite a community, bringing better outcomes to the District for the future.

Interested in incorporating branding in your school environments? Contact Stephanie Vierling.

1Source: Rubin, T., & Sheninger, E. (2017). BrandED: Tell your story, build relationships, and empower learning. Jossey-Bass Inc.

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