Innovative new wayfinding signage enhances visitor experience

1. The terminal car parks are highlighted using green with white text to stand out in all weathers yet complement the surrounding scenery

Recent visitors to Queenstown Airport may have noticed striking new wayfinding signage guiding them on their journey through the airport, from arrival point to departure point, and everything in-between.

Designed to enhance the visitor experience, the aim was to provide clear, internationally-recognised signage and wayfinding for customers to navigate their way from park to plane and in reverse.

The programme of works started over a year ago, with the terminal car parks, P2 drop-off zone and transport area, the rental car parks and the arrivals and departure doors the first to get a re-fresh. 

The installation and transformation of the interior wayfinding has just been completed, including the overhead signage, airside and landside doors, bathroom facilities, Flight Information Display Screens (FIDS), Info Desk, baggage trolleys and the agency areas for departures and arrivals.

Queenstown creative design studio makebardo, a collaborative of creative directors Bren Imboden and Luis Viale, was responsible for the re-design aimed at offering visitors a more memorable and user-friendly experience when moving through the airport.

Queenstown Airport GM Commercial and Customer Experience Olivia Pierre said the goal was to improve the visitor journey around the airport through a clear, simple and recognisable signage system that appealed to multiple audiences.

“Starting with a blank canvas, we worked to better understand and respond to the needs of our visitors. We wanted something that was unique, yet functional and I think we’ve achieved this balance,” said Ms Pierre.

“Throughout the creative process we’ve put our visitors at the heart of every concept and decision, to ensure a customer-centred approach and always referred to our core principles of affordable, adaptable, sustainable and memorable. As a result, we’ve achieved a highly distinctive and consistent wayfinding system with a unique personality which reflects our sense of place.”

Following initial walk-throughs from every entry and exit point, on foot, by plane and by road (car, bus, coach, transfer and rental car), makebardo developed the concept ‘Making the invisible, visible’, presenting the initial idea via video to convey their thinking.

“The end concept needed to communicate with various audiences at different times, so we decided to move away from the classic signage system, instead super-sizing the icons creating a highly-graphic and functional experience, resulting in an innovative and strong impact on the eye,” said Bren Imboden, one half of the creative duo.

“The main idea was to visualise the physical lines that are created when people are traveling from one place to another. It is a concept based around a flexible, modular and scalable identity of three intuitive and friendly lines, which have multiple uses and forms depending on the action required.”

Makebardo created a bespoke set of icons following the three line concept and the palette is inspired by the colours of the Queenstown Airport brand identity. Makebardo also incorporated a nod to New Zealand’s heritage reinterpreting the traditional Maori Koru and subtly incorporating it throughout the entire wayfinding system.

“The Koru icon is used as glass safety strips and to accentuate key entry and exit points. Based on design principles, all these elements evoke a good response from the user providing legibility, reliability, robustness, maintainability and adaptability,” added Ms Imboden.

“Starting with a blank canvas enabled us to think very creatively about how we guide visitors on their journey. The airport is the start and end point for people’s out-of-town journeys and we want to make this experience as memorable as possible for the right reasons,” said Ms Pierre.

“Having an effective wayfinding system is crucial to creating a positive experience and we believe we have created a unique concept, that’ll set the standard for airports.”

Makebardo has received international recognition in the world of branding and design for the initial internal wayfinding concept for Queenstown Airport which was installed in the new International area in 2015.