Notes in advance of tutorial
Branding has always been around. It started with artists creating images, then Bauhaus and then moved more commercially into corporate identity. It then incorporated new technology and moving images. With the proliferation of destktop publishing, graphic design took off and creative agencies had to not only understand the business they were designing for but also to evidence it in the form of documentation. By understanding the business creative agencies were able to maintain valuable relationships with their clients.
Branding has always been around in one form or another. Artists created images that were shaped by heritage and tradition and in the 1920s Bauhaus influenced a new generation.
Design took off commercially when artists wanted to be more abstract and communicate the intangible. In 1941, Walter Landor founded Landor Associates stating that “products are made in the factory, but brands are made in the mind.
After WW 11, artists emigrated to the US and brought with them ideas and creative talent. These included Paul Rand and Saul Bass. Corporate branding took off with designers creating systematically applied, clean, geometric visual identities.
“Corporate identity design”
In the 1960s businesses wanted logos and typefaces that would become their identity.
In a 1973 lecture at the University of Pennsylvania, IBM’s chief executive, Thomas J. Watson Jr. said that “good design is good business.”
Paul Rand’s Eye-Bee-M poster, was created in 1981 in support of IBM’s motto, THINK. It’s a type of word puzzle known as a rebus that uses pictures to represent letter. It is an example of his desire to evolve flexible, dynamic corporate identity.
He created some of the most memorable trademarks including Westinghouse, next, Enron and UPS.
Total Design Agency was founded by Ben Bos, Wim Crouwel, Friso Kramer and Benno Wissing. Their system of a logo supported by colour and typeface became standard for corporate identity from the 1970s and 80s.
Wolff Olins, a London based agency changed the approach from a “corporate identity” to a “brand”. Their more dynamic approach meant that the brand could be adapted and updated as time went by.
Wolff Olins designed a range of logos that move in and out of focus, suggesting the dynamic nature of Tate. It was designed to be always “changing but always recognizable.”
North, another London-based agency working for the RAC, the Barbican Centre and the UK Land Registry. They recognised that technology was changing and they worked with the studio Moving Brands, to create a graphic mark that was based on pulsing fibre-optic cables.
Visual identities by Moving Brands for online graphic novel publishers Madefire help define the commercial proposition.
Working with technology- oriented brands meant that designers now needed to work with code as much as typography. Green Eyle worked with MIT Media Lab to create an identity that reflected MIT Media Lab reputation for interdisciplinary research. They produced a series of algorithms that allowed students, teacher or members of staff to create their own logo which was consistent with the overall visual identity.
Bibliothèque was founded in 2005 by Mason Wells, Tim Beard and Jonathon Jeffrey. They were known for their eye for detail and their systematic technical rigor. Their approach evolved from institutions like HfG Ulm in Germany but it hadn’t really been seen in the UK.
Bibliothèque named and created the visual identity and strategy for a new telecom brand providing high-speed Internet access to emerging markets. The concept for the brand Ollo defines a line of communication connecting communities. The logo is the first to exploit the new multitouch hardware of smartphones and tablets. It utilizes custom software to allow manipulation of the logo to become a creative tool in building its visual language.
Examples from the Olio identity guidelines
Dutch editor and design critic, Max Bruinsma pointed out as far back as 1997 in his article for Eye 25, “Learning to Read and Write Images,” that “analysing and criticizing form with respect to content becomes all the more urgent at a time when forms and contents and media seem to be floating around in a primordial soup of possible contexts and meanings.” Bruinsma calls for designers to be involved in the “whole trajectory of a communication product.”
Everyone has access to computers and graphic design tools so it doesn’t have the same financial value. Dutch editor and design critic, Max Bruinsma pointed out as far back as 1997 in his article for Eye 25, “Learning to Read and Write Images,” that “analysing and criticizing form with respect to content becomes all the more urgent at a time when forms and contents and media seem to be floating around in a primordial soup of possible contexts and meanings.” Bruinsma calls for designers to be involved in the “whole trajectory of a communication product.” Now the designer’s role is to help companies decide what they need so processed of definition, clarification and naming are part of the designers craft as well as layout, typography and art direction. Designers have to talk to client, customers, employees etc. to get a good idea what the business is about their design work aims to enhance customer experience and explain their business.
Detailed analysis of the business was needed to and evidencing creative thinking and explaining its significance is vital for all agencies. James Bull, founder of Moving Brands, said, “We are what we document. If you didn’t document it, you might as well have not done it.”
1. An example of the process that studios such as Moving Brands use to clarify, name, and define
London-based creative agency Bear was brought in to brand property agents, Foxtons’, fleet of cars. After doing some analysis of the business they found out that Foxtons wanted to be “London’s estate agent” but they realised that by using the recently launched Mini Cooper as Foxtons fleet car it could link them to London. Their campaign was so successful that Foxtons made Bear their sole creative agency and they helped elevate Foxtons and it was sold in 2007 for £390 million. Bears creative director Roberto D’Andria says “the only way for a small independent agency (or any agency for that matter) to survive in today’s economic climate is to establish ongoing relationships with their clients.”