Branding vs Wayfinding

Take a moment to imagine being lost… really lost. There is absolutely nothing of familiarity in your immediate surroundings to offer comfort from the overwhelming sense of disconcertion and resignation as the waves of panic rise. You are all at sea with not a landmark or point of reference in sight!

Just when it seems all is lost, an immediately recognisable logo is sighted on the far horizon. At the risk of providing free advertising for a famous worldwide brand, we’ll not mention any names, but that big yellow M you’ve just spotted offers immediate solace! The brand mark is, in fact, so universally recognisable that the familiarity provides a beacon to guide you back from the brink of the unknown. That fear of the unknown which previously left you paralysed, is gone and in it’s place there is a point of reference to follow, thus finding your way again.

So is branding connected to the wayfinding experience? Indeed, should it be? Are branding and wayfinding different sides of the same coin or a different currency altogether?

It’s a question that is often tabled when we sit down to discuss a new signage project, but one I fear where there is actually no definitive right or wrong answer… no definitive conclusion.

It would be difficult and perhaps misleading to disconnect the two completely – if the brand corporate colours are predominantly blue, heaven forbid a proposal to introduce a wayfinding scheme incorporating luminous orange signs. That would indeed result in complete disconnect and lack of clarity to the users. The wayfinding at least should bear some relation and a consistent colour use could be one of many subtle ways of achieving this continuity.

That said it can be equally misguided to fall into the brand overload trap and incorporate a brand logo on every wayfinding sign within a scheme. There are a number of reasons for this:

_The wayfinding message itself can become lost or diluted as it completes with the brand identity.

_Confusing or mismatched images between the brand logo and pictogram can affect the overall aesthetics.

_Increased risk of large excessive costs and expense during re-branding exercises should the brand identity change in the future.

In some instances the wayfinding sign itself has become recognisable as the emblem or ‘brand’. The white and blue motorway UK road traffic signage and other variations together with the yellow and black signage incorporated in most of the UK major airports, being two cases in point.

In an attempt to form some sort of reasonable conclusion, the brand experience and the wayfinding relationship is a complex one, but intrinsically they are connected. It is the degree of that connection that is the variable in the debate.

If, when designing a large site or building, good signage design is employed at an early stage of overall project inception then equal consideration can be given to both the brand and wayfinding elements. Thereafter an applicable level of connection can successfully achieve the desired balance and relationship between the two.

If left as an afterthought, as is often the case, there is a risk of ending up with those luminous orange signs that bear no relationship to anything and, consequently, are not quite as effective as you may imagine.

What is Good Wayfinding?

Like much of every day life, signage is often taken for granted. Good signage in particular would be noticeable by its absence from our public spaces, yet its presence is something upon which, although we rely upon much of the time, we are less than conscious of the impact it makes on our day-to-day lives.

Good ‘Wayfinding’, to use the terminology chosen by specialists in our field, is much more than putting a few signs up at various locations within a space or building. Indeed it is a well considered process involving various studies of the space, the anticipated traffic (pedestrian or otherwise), the movement within that space, the destinations and the overall purpose.

Wayfinding signage should be clearly visible as well as consistent in style and form to ensure a unified message. It should be attractive as well as clearly legible, while the content should be in a language that is easily understandable by all and free from specialist jargon.

Such signage, as is found in our airports, bus stations, offices, railway stations or shopping centres does much more than assist passenger or public navigation.

The next time you are heading off on holiday, take a moment to imagine just how difficult and stressful it would be to find your departure gate or passport control in the absence of wayfinding signs and how much less time you’d have available to relax browsing in the Duty Free retail area or enjoying a quiet pre-flight aperitif in the bar!

By : Gael Davidson

Wayfinding TFL

Better wayfinding means improving the ease with which people can navigate themselves to, from and within an interchange facility or zone. Good wayfinding includes legible, well-designed spaces; signing and information when and where passengers need it; effective use of surface treatments, materials and lighting; and environmental interventions such as public art combining to create pathways, landmarks and destinations.

Wayfinding should be complementary to the layout of the interchange facility or zone, minimising the need for signing.


002 – To Animate or Not to Animate

To Animate or Not to Animate

I really love good book design, such as Dave McKean, but I also really love great animations and motion graphics such as Dark Gospel. I am really quite stuck as to which direction to take with this project. I reall do love both areas and would love to work in an area that would let me experiment with different mediums, craft, design, digital.

I can envisage a well made books telling the story of Good Vs. Evil, laser cut silhouettes, meaningful layout, typography and illustartions, as well as a slick, well made animation.

Perhaps a mixture of the two? an interactive book / web page?

Although I would then miss out on the amazing look and feel of the printed text and paper stock.

I like the idea of mixing the MPP and MPE together, telling the story of my research into history, narratives and styles through a book or animation.





LIttle Red Riding Hood

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

High 5

Dave McKean
The Wolves in the Walls / The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish
Really love the artwork McKean produces, managed to talk with him this summer and it was a real eye opener. Is an amazing example of type and imagery, nothing in accidental, every little mark has a deep meaning to the story.

Edward Gory
I have always been a fan of his style of design and illustration, simple colours that really enthesis the feel of the words as well as the illustration.

Jhonen Vasquez
An amazing dark artist and responcible for some of my favorite animation and graphic novals. A very unique style with pop referenced that i can really relate to.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Black Gospel

As long as anyone can remember, the coming of The Undertaker has meant the coming of death. Until one day the grim promise fails and tension builds as the God fearing townsfolk of Backwater wait for someone to die

The Forest

Antonia is a 12 year old girl. She often has daydreams, in which she wonders of in to a magical far away forest, were she hides from the problems of the real world. One day, however, her father takes drastic measures and she has to face a decision.

Is your inner peace an utopian state until you have finally escaped the grip of the society and its rules? Or is affirmation a faster way to your personal luck? And what are you supposed to do, if you have to answer this question at the age of 12?

In the Animated Short “The Forest”, the protagonist has to cope with this question and her hostile environment and finds a simple but radical solution.


This is actually such a beautiful story. It shows that there is no individuality. In the class, they were all doing the exact same thing and getting the same marks. Also, look at the teacher, he has a mask on his face so we do not know what lies underneath. Did you notice that when they broke free, they all went the same way, showing that even though they had freedom, they couldn’t do anything their own way because they don’t know how to. At the end, he saved the dog he watches die everyday.

Video Games

Don’t Starve
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Kentucky Route Zero

Very much my like my most insperational artists, the subtle details in the animations, movements & lighting create a fantastic feeling

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Story Spreads

For the story spreads i wanted to make the a bit more normal, but still retain the new grunge look and feel. I used the main colour from the navigation.

Using stylesheets i was able to quickly fill in the content giving it some sort of logical heirachy

2 1


Dseigns started off quite plain and boring, i really wanted to make the spreads more visually appealing to the viewers


The Brief

I propose to redesign  Fortean Times as a more trendy, stylish magazine.

Making it more appealing to the young generations. Focusing on high quality images and a interesting layout to shake up the stale ordinary magazine feel.

I felt that FT’s layout should reflect its content more, for such and interesting and varied magazine, its layout was predictable and tame. I wanted to resolve this, creating and interesting and engaging layout taht reflects the strange, dark, and interein nature of the content itself.

Turning the magazine into a high quality collectible full of interesting storys and images.

How I did this:

Introduce a modular grid system, allowing for a structured layout with variation
Improved navigation, colour coded, page numbers, section markers
Improved graphical styling, more appealing to the younger target audience
Interesting layout, keep views attention
Smaller, more interesting format, higher quality paper
Design a masthead/logo that ties in with the new magazine’s identity

Designing for Print

I didnt find designing for print too hard, i have gotten used to inDesign over time and dealing with CYMK colours at 300 dpi.

Working with a 3mm bleed, printing test copys for bodytext and heading ensured i had the correct sizes, rather then relying on the screen.


In order for the new design to work, it needs to work for all content. While this may  seem harder with a more dynamic layout, the formula is quite simple to replocate for newer issues. Large images, overlayed text and textures, and shaken up text boxes using the NEW MODULAR grid.

I used Paragraph and Character styles for the text, meaning just a click of a button and the text would be uniformally set for the magazine.