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What We’ve Learned in 60 Years of Branded Environments

Miller Zell celebrated its 60th anniversary this summer. The world is very different today compared to 1964.

Our overall philosophy about developing and executing branded environments has always been focused on purposeful solutions and innovation that provide clients’ ROI. We also know that looking back on our learnings can provide perspective on what’s both now and next.

So here are seven lessons Miller Zell learned through 60 years while helping clients — from retailers to banks to colleges to quick-serve restaurants — create great customer experiences and inspire brand loyalty.

End-to-end services, from concept to completion, offer clients the most efficient and productive path to ROI

Miller Zell started as a printer and then moved into design and décor production. 

It didn’t take long, however, to figure out that holistic, strategic thinking early on and throughout project execution fostered better ideas, quality, efficiency and outcomes. So, we mastered all the details and capabilities of project execution from beginning to end. This included deciphering potential challenges and missteps and opportunities to value engineer and provide savings.

Our strategy and design teams and execution pros work together, combining the creative and the practical, tying innovative solutions to efficient rollouts. Our designers achieve fabulous results because they understand our clients’ wants and needs and our engineers say it’s feasible. This dual focus saves you time and reduces stress on the way to installation.

Of course, another advantage to our end-to-end capabilities is an ability to seamlessly enter a project whenever a client comes to us and help them — and their other vendors who might be struggling — to successfully cross the finish line. And win.

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Miller Zell headquarters located in Atlanta, Georgia.

Testing and quick implementation of what works keep you competitive  

As our website notes, “Real clever and real efficient shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.”

Innovation and adaptability are fundamental to our partnerships with clients. We’ve stacked our team with collaborators rooted in real-world challenges. Being nimble with new ideas — test, measure, adapt, alter or discard (for now) — is about keeping up with dynamic industries that serve evolving consumer preferences but also frequently overpromise.

"Real clever and real efficient shouldn't be mutually exclusive."

Over the decades, we’ve seen the rise of e-commerce, the decline of traditional malls and the increasing importance of omnichannel strategies. Staying ahead of the curve means engaging new technologies and quickly ascertaining their uses, value and sometimes not-so-obvious limitations in branded environments.

We ensure our clients remain competitive in an ever-changing market by distinguishing between shiny objects that don’t provide real value and those that increase customer engagement, satisfaction and, yes, spending.

Inspiration for branded environments can come from anywhere

Many different sorts of businesses need and use branded environments, from a wide variety of retailers large and small, to banks, to restaurants, to universities, to health care clinics, to hotels, to corporate headquarters, etc. Something that improves the customer experience at one business could work as well at another, though completely different, operation.

Micro Center APP Sample 530 X 600Miller Zell understood what customer and associate experience Micro Center wanted and we came up with a solution: a high-performing, intuitive associate app.  Micro Center located in Tustin, California.

For example, lessons learned from retail store navigation can provide wayfinding insights for hospitals. And menu boards or QSR ordering kiosks can be implemented at banks, universities or stores for specific purposes, creating more efficient and intuitive experiences.

Fact is, every public environment has a purpose. It interacts and engages with people who are there for specific reasons. So, any elements that optimize that interaction, whether customer or associate facing, is a value-add.

And we never stop searching for value to provide our clients.

Data collection and technology should always be based on the customer experience

Informed gut instinct still matters but connecting it to data-driven insights provides a firm foundation for customer experience and operational upgrades. 

Understanding customer demographics, purchasing patterns and in-store behaviors allows us to create environments that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also strategically optimized for sales. This data-driven approach helps our clients to better understand their customers and tailor their offerings accordingly.

We’ve learned to leverage customer behavior data and sales analytics to optimize store layouts, fixture and product placement, wayfinding, lighting and app development, etc. Every part of a branded environment is worthy of evaluation and asking, “How can we make this better?”

Technology isn’t a novelty. It’s a tool that serves customers, associates and your bottom line.

Brand consistency and storytelling connect with customers

A consistent brand experience across all touchpoints is crucial for building a strong identity and trust with customers. Whether it’s a flagship store in a major city or a smaller outlet in a suburban area or your website or app, maintaining brand consistency in design, messaging and service is essential.

We’ve developed processes and standards via brand playbooks to ensure that every branded environment we design and implement adheres to your brand’s core values and visual identity, providing a uniform experience that resonates with customers.

"A consistent brand experience across all touchpoints is crucial for building a strong identity and trust with customers."


Over the years, we’ve learned the power of using fixtures, displays and signage — both digital and static — to tell your brand story and connect with customers on an emotional level. This brand-to-customer emotional engagement can significantly influence dwell time, purchasing decisions and customer loyalty.


Supporting diversity and sustainability is not “virtue signaling.” If done right, it’s good business.

Miller Zell is not the least bit interested in being political. We’re a business. But we also care about our associates, our clients, our community and doing what’s right.

Our clients are diverse and so are their customers. That means our creativity, innovation, decision making, hiring and work needs to include a wide range of perspectives and experiences. This better serves our clients.

MZ Sustainability Solar panels banner still
Miller Zell is committed to preserving the planet through our policies and practices—from reducing waste by 5% each year to harnessing renewable energy right from our rooftop. Learn more about our sustainable practices.

Our clients and their customers also want the most sustainable solutions for their branded environments. Consumers are increasingly favoring brands that demonstrate environmental responsibility. By integrating eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient systems and sustainable practices, we help our clients reduce their environmental footprint while appealing to conscientious consumers.

Doing the right thing and optimizing the bottom line are not mutually exclusive.


Long-term relationships provide value to our client stakeholders.

Effective collaboration and communication with our clients are fundamental to Miller Zell’s six decades of success and growth.

And long-term collaboration and communication drive long-term success for both partners.

Retailers and other businesses with branded environments know their marketplaces continually evolve and advance. Staying ahead of competitors and growing revenue is a complex task.

Miller Zell knows that understanding our clients’ goals, challenges and vision through open dialogue leads to better outcomes. Regular updates, feedback loops and transparent processes ensure that projects stay on track and meet or exceed client expectations. This collaborative approach fosters strong, long-term relationships and trust with our clients.

That’s why we say, “All in. All the way.”

Over the past six decades, Miller Zell has continually evolved by learning from each project and staying attuned to industry shifts.

Our commitment to enhancing the customer experience, embracing innovation, leveraging data, maintaining brand consistency, adopting sustainable practices, fostering collaboration, engaging emotionally with customers and ensuring efficiency has positioned us as a leader in the development and execution of branded environments.

As we look to the future, these lessons will continue to guide us in creating compelling, effective business environments that drive success for our clients.

miller zell featured image about us