Visual Identity Design in the New Economy

Design de Identidade Visual na Nova Economia

Raposo, D. Martín-Sanroman, J. Neves, J. Silva, J.

IPCB/ESART - Escola Superior de Artes Aplicadas do Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco
UPSA - Facultad de Comunicación de la Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca
IPCB/ESART - Escola Superior de Artes Aplicadas do Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco
IPCB/ESART - Escola Superior de Artes Aplicadas do Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco

Retirado de:

RESUMO: Este artigo pretende ser uma reflexão sobre como o design da identidade visual varia com a Identidade Corporativa, que por sua vez muda com a cultura e os tempos.
As corporações da nova economia são governadas por uma lógica diferente de conduta e por princípios que podem atingir o funcionamento de corporações baseadas em aspectos tangíveis e capital.
A globalização mudou a lógica dos mercados, e as corporações e universidades devem estar preparadas para dar respostas novas, genuínas e confiáveis.
No contexto da sala de aula, Visual Identidade concepção educação deve garantir que o aluno está ciente das mudanças em curso e que a eficácia do projeto depende de sua adaptação à corporação atual e cenário futuro.
O artigo é baseado em revisão de literatura e em um estudo de caso explicativo, que é uma metodologia de ensino de design de Identidade Visual Corporativa.
Se pretende mostrar como os processos de projeto mudaram simultaneamente às mudanças que a sociedade e a economia também tiveram.

PALAVRAS - CHAVE: Corporação, Nova Economia, Identidade Visual, Marca, Design Educação.

ABSTRACT: This paper aims to be a reflection on how the design of the visual identity varies with the Corporate Identity, which in turn changes with the culture and times.
Corporations of the new economy are governed by a different logic of conduct and through principles that can hit in the functioning of corporations based in tangible aspects and capital.
Globalization has changed the logic of markets, and corporations and universities must be prepared to give new, genuine and reliable answers.
In the context of the classroom, Visual Identity design education must ensure that the student is aware of the on-going changes and that the effectiveness of the design depends on its adjustment to the corporation present and future scenario.
The paper is based on literature review and in one explanatory case study, which is a teaching methodology of Corporate Visual Identity design.
If is intended to show how design processes have changed simultaneously to the changes that society and the economy also had.

KEYWORDS: Corporation, New economy, Visual Identity, Brand Mark, Design Education.

1. Changes in the concepts Corporation and Company

The corporation concept is generally associated with the word company, but it was originated centuries before. However, the concept corporation is broader, since it refers to a collectivity or society to ensure a certain social order.

Antiquity was based in army conquests, aristocratic governments and trade basis were agricultural products, livestock and fishing, meanwhile Middle Ages was marked by a rural or agricultural gentry, economically centred on crafts, trades and manufacturing industries.

At first, the feudal or medieval society was a system based on the allocation of land in exchange for services (usually rents, military and divine protection, among other forms of income such as agriculture and livestock) in which the king donated land to the nobles of Kingdom. In return, these nobles assured the defence of the kingdom and the glory of God with his own troops.

The servants were the basis of this social organization, as were those who worked the land leased or hoping to achieve a title of ownership. However, the most common was that the servant had a statute close to the slave; he worked the land of the Lord, for a part of the production and often getting into debt. Therefore, the city and crafts began to be seen as the possibility of greater freedom and opportunity (Marques, 1997).

In the XI century appeared the mercantile society, which has expanded with the crusades and the commercial development during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, as well as the consolidation of corporations (guild houses or workshops crafts), whose activity was also controlled.

Often craftsmen of the same kind lived in the same street and were organized into guilds or corporations. Guilds established their own sets of guidelines and regulations, such as the hours of work, the wages paid to apprentices, insure a minimum quality level, the prohibition of unauthorized trading or prices violations, because the competition was prohibited.

The Master Craftsman took in apprentices for 8 years approximately, to received training and payment (journeymen) in exchange for work, until they hone enough skills to do a masterpiece to prove his skill to the Guild and become a master.

Although the work resulted from the cooperation of many people, only the master could sign the project with its brand. In case of control, the object also took the mark of the guild (Costa, 2004).

The guild marks were placed next to the Master Craftsman mark as sign of control and to ensure that traded products complied with the corporation rules.

Therefore, corporations have emerged as societies to organize small businesses and to fight for accomplish common goals. The guilds used the brand as regulator, while journeymen used it only to point out the work done and the master as the author of all work and project.

The industrial revolution changed the entire production system, causing a reduction in family craft production and the spread of mass production. With the increase in production capacity, companies get into difficulties in disposing their products nearby, leading them to look for new markets, often using intermediaries.

In the late nineteenth century, this new production capacity in large series brought the need to improve the management and business organization. That is, the company has emerged as an industrial organization with focus on the economy and production.

For these reasons, the company became very self-centred in their primary needs, in the raw material, in the manufacture and optimization of the production processes or in financial management.

Thus, the concept of enterprise was crystallized in a management model that currently remains in many cases. During the twentieth century, with the association of marketing to sales, the market took a decisive weight in the business philosophy.

This thinking model began to set in the nineteenth century and gave rise to the functional division of labour, the hierarchy and vertical management and to the company fragmentation in departments such as the assembly chain (Costa, 2009).

The company was fragmented into small tasks, which consequently means the fracture of the communication and the division of human operations. The management was assumed as the chief commanding subdivisions that pass and fulfil orders.

Nevertheless the concept corporation has been generalized to designate commercial and political ideologies, in its origin it refers to a group of people working for a common goal. The word corporation comes from corpus, meaning body or a totality, which, although is formed by parts, is inseparable. It is this meaning that explains the association of the term to the concept of Visual Identity.

While marketing was developed in the commercial department, within the company, concepts such as culture, interaction, global communication, holistic, system and identity, appeared externally in areas such as human sciences, theories and information sciences, cybernetics and design (Costa, 2004).

In the twentieth century, after the Second World War, large multinationals emerged, and took place an increase in internationalization increased by globalization during the second half of the same century and the next one.

According to Pérez (2015, p.19) the "globalization is a complex process of interdependence between the economies of different countries as a result of the increasing facility for communication and exchange of information, people, goods and capital flows”. This phenomenon has allowed the generalization of world trade, increased international investments, relocation of production factors, promoting a common-culture and has driven the technological innovation into a new level.

In fact, since the second half of the last century, the "Production economy" was replaced successively by the "information economy" in which the culture of service is one of the main axes. To Viladàs (2010), this evolution of markets originated the "Systems Product-Service" where goods and services are articulated to answer the same need.

Large companies operating in the international scenario, characterized by a globalized market and by borders dilution, with new markets, meaning a considerable increase on the level of interaction and communication between brands and their stakeholders at the level of one to one (Kathman, 2002).

A new change in business philosophy has begun; the era of information and communication, which gradually moves industry product concept for the service. Follows the evolution of Public Relations (concern with the external perception the company) to Corporate Reputation (concern with expectations, satisfactions, experiences and perception of different "stakeholders")  (Davies et al., 2003).

In this context, brands are struggling with identity problems and brand management in a constant tension between acting globally or locally (Fuad-Luke, 2009). Business structures change through the acquisition and fusion but also through the subdivision of groups and departments. Thus, some brands have gained a reputation and global dimension, while others needed to be divided.

More recently, reducing the size, segmentation and complexity of global business seems to be relevant to ensure sustainable growth. Examples of this are the reduction in the portfolio of trademarks from Unilever (to eliminate about 1,200 sub-brands) and Procter & Gamble (to eliminate about 100 sub-brands) to improve the brand management efficiency.

According to Lipovetsky (2007), standardization and production in series of products led to the customization and hypersegmentation, allowing brands to become a system of culture and values to which products and services are associated.

The concept of company he joined the social context. Costa (2004) states that the business paradigm of the XXI century is divided by the vectors Identity, Culture, Action, Communication and Image, which should be viewed and managed holistically and considering that the corporation is a node in a network of human interaction at internal and external level.

From a holistic perspective, from the design management or global communication, the corporation is necessarily a group of people who work for a common good, providing a service to third parties (Viladàs, 2010). This definition allows us to observe how corporations are social structures within other social structures that form a network, contextualized in one or more cultures.

Perhaps the unincorporated feeling is a sign of less empathy for others and greater individualism. But some studies indicate that the current employees are increasingly uncorporated, meaning that they are interested in obtaining benefits and personal satisfaction, but do not care about the group, which can mean low effort and commitment to the corporate objectives and values (Olins, 2015).

In the last decade, social networks changed the work processes of the company and gave a new meaning to telecommuting. Digital Social Networks can be defined as a well-defined set of actors linked to each other through an Internet platform (Scott, 2013).

The Digital Social Networks enabled the emergence of projects created by synergy between people, working or communicating in networks. By hiring freelancers who perform tasks remotely; by subcontracting companies or individuals who develop the project under the name of whom hires (outsourcing); offer services through the contributions of a community (crowdsourcing); the sale of isolated components or pre-made templates or saling services online (online markets); community that develops a single project in a collaborative manner and whose result tends to be free (Open system); Also the direct funding of products or services by common people (Crowdfunding).

Unlike what happened with the websites, some bloggers and Facebook pages have become opinion leaders with large numbers of followers (Scott, 2013).

This is because the way communication takes place on social networks is quite different from what happens in the Internet in general and especially in face interaction. This also means that managing a social network means greater flexibility, sensitivity and other capabilities in brand management. In this regard, states that Weber (2009, p.29) “In the tradicional communications model, your organization controls content creation and distribution. In the social media world, you have little to no control over content or distribution. Individuals communicate with other individuals and with groups, and groups communicate with individuals and groups — everyone with everyone.”

It is not new the existence of collective or ateliers that are not constituted as a company, but social networks have boosted business appearance, not always official, but with considerable turnover.

According to the business concept from the two previous centuries, the most important is the capital, including fixed capital (factories, distribution centres, stores, etc.). If there is capital, these corporations are formally and legally constituted and cease to exist when there is no money, when they go into bankruptcy.

The corporation are created with equity to provide a service or producing a product while in the context of the new economy many companies emerge from a product or service concept that proves to be viable and to have public interest.

There have always been business transactions outside of corporations. Based on their skills, these people (individuals and families) sell products or services to third parties, often through personal network of contacts and word of mouth. In the last decade, the international financial crisis seems to have boosted some entrepreneurship in the United States and Europe. In addition, social networks enable small business ideas gain visibility and notoriety internationally, competing with corporations and established brands.

Examples of this are various brands of children's clothing that emerged from notoriety phenomena in social networks. From the habit of sharing views on clothes and everyday experiences, some young mothers realized they were opinion leaders and their skills represent a business opportunity (Barradas, 2016).

Currently there are companies without equity that survive through the investment of economic groups or directly by the target public investment that are buyers and investors.
In this logic, the products can be created and produced after the orders being produced in small series, personally and through processes that will improve with time. These businesses are represented by brands, without necessarily a company and communication takes place through direct channels such as email and social networks.
From the perspective of the brand, these businesses result in a positive and emotional experience that takes place in the digital social networks. Passed is a connectivity associated with the computer to an affordable continuous experience in various mobile devices (Alierta, 2015).

Social networks, mobiles, analytical or clouds, among others are disruptive technologies that will change in the lifestyle of people and develop a new economy that is more digital and global. Disruptive can be a product, technology or an innovative way of doing something in a given context meaning a change of mentalities, customs, mind-sets or ways of management.

If such technologies are disruptive, it is even more the Possibility of digital currency or digital money, or Bitcoin.
The digital money enables the boundaries almost disappear and reduces the possibility of state control over financial transactions, which could compromise the fundamentals of the economy. Still, many financial transactions are made with digital cash or with complementary systems to banks such as PayPal and Ecuador has become the world's first nation to create its own digital currency. But several countries have already announced the same intention of Denmark, China and Sweden, among others.


2. The Identity Changes Constantly

Corporate Identity is a set of intangible attributes assumed as their own, by the organization, which constitute the "discourse of identity", and develops within organizations, as with individuals. It is the information used in the visual messages.

Corporate Identity results from the corporate culture, which, according to Tajada (2008), is the dominant set of beliefs and values of the organization, corporate philosophy, standards, and characteristics of the working group's habits, traditions, and behaviours. But to Villafañe (1993), the definition of corporate culture is more evident; the author believes that it is the process of social construction of self-identity - that is, the appropriation of meaning (or new meanings). For the author, the identity comes from the history of the company, the business plan, and corporate culture.

The concept of corporate culture can be subdivided into the realistic, idealistic, and ambitious plans, which are related to the mission and conditions of identity and is a natural consequence from acting and communication between groups of people over time in a context work (Tajada, 2008).

In short, the Corporate Identity results from a set of not necessarily similar visions, in which each social subject is aware of what it is, a notion of how it intends to be seen. It is an ideological view that results from what the organization wants (on a real level), which are its immediate and/or projectual perspectives (Chaves, 1988).

Constituting itself as a way to think and act in a group, the corporate culture contributes to the formation of identity - that is, "... to the organization or parts of it have the sense of being as a consistent and specific being, that assumes his history and place in society,”  (Kapferer, 1991, pp.30-31).

As it occurs in groups, the identity is the result of personal experiences in socialization whit others becoming a character that defines that individual and his place in the world among the others. But that persona, who dwells in us, is constantly being redefined as a result of the experiences that we have.

Regarding the Corporate Image/Branding Image, it is the result of different mental perceptions from Stakeholders, about a specific reality, or the result of the brand communications, the level of satisfaction to what is offered, fulfilment of expectations, and experiences of different audiences.

The corporate image relates to an analysis by the audiences, the result of all the data obtained and concerning the organization (which can cause different interpretations or images).

As seen, the perception of Corporate Visual Identity is the result of syntaxes, a set of connotations seen in one or more moments and gathered as one in the mind of one or a group of persons in such a way and with little awareness that contributes to the corporate image.

In this sense, the corporate identity is a set of attributes assumed as their own by the organization, which constitutes the "identity discourse". It is developed inside the organization, as with an individual. Corporate Identity is a complex picture, once a set of visions is not necessarily similar. Each social subject has a notion of what it is, and the way it pretends to be seen.

The Corporate Image is the ultimate goal of the Communication Design project, but does not refer to design or to graphic images, but before to the mental image that the audience made from a company or organization (Costa 2004).


3. From Corporate Identity to Visual Identity

In the logic of communication and overall effectiveness of the company when employees have a low sense of belonging to all and overlap their personality to the group's identity, it can be a problem for a coherent image. Thus, one of the greatest challenges to leadership and branding is to detect common interests and how to reconcile different points of view (Olins, 2015).

If, in general, there was some increase in labor instability, the data indicate that younger generations covet more flexibility and freedom. If, on the one hand, employers hinder access to permanent contracts, on the other some employees do not seem to want to devote more than thirty years of life to the service of a corporation. So they can be less sensitive to rewards of salary and career.

Having regard to Abraham Maslow's motivation theory (1992), human needs obey a hierarchy or scale of values in which every time a need is satisfied, appears a new (which must be satisfied) and when it is not suppressed, it is replaced or transferred. In the Maslow's motivational pyramid (1992), human needs are organized and arranged hierarchically in levels of importance and influence: the base are the lower needs (physiological needs) and at the top the highest (self actualization needs).

Thus, to impress the younger generations, companies face the challenge of becoming more genuine, more human and close to the people, allowing them to establish a more real and true relationship with employees and stakeholders (Olins, 2015).

From the perspective of corporate image, this would imply that the company ceases to enforce a final vision, established in pyramidal manner, and that it chooses to work for people (and not the other way around), allowing to identify the real corporate identity, with people inside company and their external connections, letting Individuals shape what the company means (Olins, 2015). This true corporate identity will be quickly integrated and expanded to a corporate spirit and work culture.

According to Alierta (2015) information and communication technologies enable a comprehensive production management and innovation, including internal audiences and external, since it is possible to motivate recipients to become producers and promoters of new value propositions.

That is why Costa (2009) proposes the Dircom - The Director of Communication, as a professional responsible for articulating all departments, so their training integrates the theories of information and communication, sociology of communication, political theory, management crisis and social responsibility, economics, management and strategic planning, marketing and design.

At their origin, brands are artificial systems, created by corporations and designers, until they turn into a real social phenomenon and people take ownership of them. This is, when brands cease to belong to the issuer and come to reside the collective imagination.

In people's minds, brands are transformed symbolically, through a constant social interaction dialogue, increasingly dependent on what make sender and recipient in their roles, which come to reverse.

The brand is a socially shared referent, which represents a multitude of entities, products or services.

As social phenomena brands are an ideology related to the identity of a product, a service, and a collective or individual subject. When the ideology of the brand coincides with the thinking of a person or is associated with concepts or experiences recognized as positive, then it is valued.

The value of the brand meaning allows cross borders between countries and is appreciated by different companies with different cultures. In addition, the brand also allows it to be shared by different generations, adjusting to the customs, ideologies and cultures, and even integrate a universal vocabulary.
The link with the public means that the mark is made known naturally, credible, useful and compatible with the culture and daily life of people.

The designers also seek to provide answers to this new context and a possible response can be the metamorphic mark, which adopts visual identity systems that fits to themes, to contexts and audiences (Van Nes, 2012).

In the new economy, the companies rely on social systems, structures similar to human interaction and are therefore more natural. It's not just that assume a task or provide a more useful service, but above all because they get a real benefit of individual identity. They start from common everyday needs, give solution to the problems, and produce business ideas based on common sense, taking advantage of information and communication technologies.

Companies that follow the logic of the new economy have a more disruptive nature, because they have a different operating logic and follow other market rules, resulting from the merger of information and communication technologies and new ways of production and realization of transactions in an increasingly global market.

We have witnessed something similar to a war between two social and economic models, which is manifested by fighting between the corporations based on product and the corporations following the logic of the new economy. Taxi companies in contrast to Uber, hotel chains compared to Airbnb.

Consequently, the context and the role of design have been changed alongside the technological, social and political developments, fulfilling the aspirations and needs of each society. While in Industrial Economics, the design quality was measured by use of the object, now, this is a start condition and the added value is the true differentiator.

Thus, in the exercise of his professional activities, the designer had to take a framework of responsibilities and competencies, increasingly broad, intervening at the level of the Audit, Strategy, Innovation, Drawing, Design Services, Management, of Techniques and Technologies.

In cooperation with other professionals and decision-makers, the designer must act on complex systems, which comprise the people, information, technology, services and culture.

Assuming that the designer it is the optimizer of the corporate message (Corporate Identity) and that this depends on the intended Corporate Image, then, the Corporate Identity consisting in the specific way the company decides to shows itself visually and publicly. It is a strategic selection or design of signs, which are organized and articulated graphical and semantically as a system (program).

To the communication designer fits the mission to act on the information and turn the intangible into tangible signs capable of creating value, which lack semantic and cultural adjustment to the market and the public. It’s a process of cultural and social interaction between the audiences, the context and the company, in which the designer seeks to intervene.


4. Visual Identity

Generally, the design Identity education programs tend to be confined to the necessary skills to design brands, considering the perceptual and technical issues, which enable its reproduction and use. Many design schools seem to prefer a pedagogical model based on project action to solve specific problems, applying drawing and techniques. In order to aid students understanding, the design project is systematized and divided into phases, often seen as sequential.

A practice way and design teaching based on the relationship between the drawing, technology and science  (vectors that are valued with several hierarchies from the Bauhaus, the New Bauhaus and the Ulm School), intending to cause social reform (Findeli, 2001).

It is about to resort to technique and intention to follow up on an informed intuition, which seeks to condition or persuade the recipient's behaviour. However, the effectiveness of the design derives from the correct definition of the design problem state inside of a larger system, in other words, the action through the design depends on the level of understanding of specific culture and context in which the brand is activated, near to other many signs and beyond the simple satisfaction of needs (Martin, 2006).

In this sense, Pombo and Tshimmel (2005) consider that beyond the technical, semantic and methodological knowledge, the designer needs to know how to solve unexpected events using the conceptualisation, in other words, imagination, intuition and emotion to establishing connections between ideas and concepts through graphic signs.

As explained Branda and Cuenya (2008, p.64) in the context of the communication design project, "when we are talking about the conceptual construction, we refer to the subject knowledge and to its context, reflection, analysis and synthesis at the level of complexity this requires. Conceptualizing involves understanding a problem, be able to translate a language, converting it into a message. Apply the conceptual elements of design proposal, in the message construction." Still, instead of solving problems, there are several contemporary autors who argue that the design works on cultural contexts and which is also influenced by it, since, increasingly, public recipients have participation in this process.

According to Findeli (2001, p.10), in the contemporary society, the design should not be limited to solve needs because isolated problems do not exist, but there are states in systems, and so “the new logical structure of the design process is: 1 Instead of a problem, we have: state A of a system; 2 Instead of a solution, we have: state B of the system; and 3 The designer and the user are part of the system (stakeholders).

In the same direction the model Design Activism Space, proposed by Fuad-Luke (2009), considers the designer as a catalyst that acts on integrated systems which integrate the economic capital, the social system, political, productive, natural and human to generate useful and sustainable solutions focused on the user. It is a design thinking that seeks to generate sustainable value propositions, considering that agents usually do not contribute to the design project, such as the recipients.

Also Holmlid (2009) establishes relationships between cooperative design, design thinking and service design, noting that all these methods are based on cooperative processes and emancipating the "stakeholders" in the development of products or services. Essentially, it is incorporated at the design project, the experience and expectations of the recipient of the utility, function and user experience.

In general, design students never had a a job before and are unaware of the real functioning of companies and brands. So when they are asked to design a brand that represents a company, a product or service they can easily rely on preconceived ideas, fashion phenomena or just on their personal style. It is difficult to design something that you don’t know how to explain.

Moreover, as noted Robinson (2006) today's education should prepare students for a reality that does not yet exist and that we do not understand yet.
In this respect, at IPCB/ESART, was decided to encourage students to develope real projects in a real context. To get students to think about the project from a more informed perspective it was considered essential that the design of visual identity begins with a study of the context and an Audit of Corporate Image.

The Audit of Corporate Image is about clarifying the values and the corporate identity, as well as evaluate the corporate reputation with internal and external audiences to the company, in particular through questionnaires, discussions and interviews directly to key stakeholders, usually those who have direct contact with the customer and any liability to the activity in question (Olins, 2000 Davies, Chun and Silva, 2002 and Sanz Tajada, 2008). Groups of interviewees and surveyed may appear administrators, staff, the media, the main customers, former customers and the community in general. The questionnaire managers can provide concrete data on the turnover in the past five years, help to identify corporate values, and to the vision of the administrators of the company itself (usually an idealized vision). The questionnaire to the staff can show employee satisfaction in the company and its internal view of the same. The media and the general population tend to highlight the opinion of those who know the company through its direct and indirect media. The current and former customers are important as a point of comparison with companies, competing products or services and to locate the level of brand preference (Olins, 2000).

The projects began to be developed in small groups responsible for a component of the Audit of Corporate Image, whose compilation originated a single diagnosis and a single document, shared by the group and presented to the company under study.

In addition, the project is developed in a global perspective of the company, considering its history, capabilities, market and short and long term objectives, but especially points of view of people. In this sense, the method also comprises: Map of competitors and SWOT analysis; Diagnosis; Brand Personality and Positioning; Public Persona map or method; Participatory brainstorming and Brand Strategy; Definition of the Brand and System Architecture and Design of Signs of Identity; Applications and Standards; Graphic Production and Implementation. In some cases, it has been possible to monitor and adjust the Visual Identity projects after implementation.


4.1. The Study of the problems and the Audit of Corporate Image

The briefing of the project is developed with the participation of the company's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), seeking to obtain information about the corporate identity, including the mission, values and official corporate culture. It also positions the company according to their situation financially compared to competitors, their needs and the medium and long-term business goals.

After carefully reading the briefing and a first analysis of competitors is prepared a set of questionnaires directed to the manager, the staff, clients or potential clients, to identify personal perspectives on corporate identity, advantages and opportunities. In parallel, we proceed to the collection of information on the business sector, the main media used looking for spot trends, but also learn from good examples.

The Corporate Communications artefacts are provided by the company and appreciated by the team, considering its effectiveness as identity and perceptual system.

In addition to sharing digital documents in a folder, common to the whole team as well as short presentations by group, resort to "Affinity Diagramming", a process that reduces comprehensive information and highlight observations and resulting from the research opinions Martin and Hanington, 2012).


4.2. Map of competitors and SWOT Analysis

During this phase shall collect Brand marks and their organization in the most appropriate types in each case (colour, printing, symbols, words, etc.), searching to detect if there are graphic codes to be recognized in that culture and market.

Simultaneously, from product perspective and especially visual communication are analysed the Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities, which are discussed along with the company's CEO.

Initially, the map of competitors aims to detect possible graphic codes in a business sector and assist designers to maintain the key elements and select better signs that are different from those used by competitors. And after the design or redesign of the graphic marks the competition map is a useful tool to check the graphical differentiation level against competitors.


4.3. Diagnosis, Participatory Brainstorming and Brand Strategy

Based on the information obtained previously it starts working summary of the main issues, challenges and opportunities of the company, product or service, which is the basis of a brainstorming session to find ways of resolution. Whenever possible, brainstorming sessions rely on the presence of the manager and members of the company's staff, without invalidating the team to have new meetings.

Brainstorming held in informal environment from conceptual map, ie a network of associations that allows you to integrate existing concepts, relating them with new ones and establish analogies (Martin and Hanington, 2012). On the other hand, the conceptual network map is a scheme that allows establishing relationships and hierarchies among a large number of concepts.

The conceptual map is developed from an issue are generated between fifteen to twenty-five possible answers, organized by levels of importance corresponding to distances. Depending on the group discussion, the position of the concepts can be changed until it manages the scheme and how to implement the ideas.
From this process is defined the brand architecture and is developed an organization chart that summarizes the communication strategy of the brand, particularly relating the subject with the support of communication, business needs and target group, and to establish temporal and symbolic connections between the various vectors of action.
Relatively often have resulted proposals to create new products or services that are provided to the audience, but also new methods or ways of doing and thinking.


4.4. Audiences map and Persona method

The audience map was integrated into the design process of Identity as is a graphical representation of various representative groups from stakeholders (Stickdorn and Schneider, 2011).
It is a process that is based on data collected at audit of image, but also through research on social networks and other sources.
Beginning by listing the main needs, motivations and expectations of the stakeholders (such as employees, managers, customers, the media, etc.) continues to highlight the identification of needs and groups from those that are more frequent or coincident.

Based on the previous information, when applicable we resort to the Persona method, which is to define the character or behavior profile and representative interests of a certain group of people, usually consumers (Stickdorn and Schneider, 2011).
The character of Persona is a group of archetypes and behaviors that seek to humanize and direct the design process, centering it on a user. They are often developed fictional presentations based on real data (Martin and Hanington, 2012).


4.5. Brand Personality and Positioning

Through a new process of brainstorming, the information of the previous steps is analysed and interpreted, can lead to the organization chart review of Brand Strategy.

The main thrust of the Brand Personality is the Corporate Identity and Public map, but it is drawing the based brand experience in the selection of the values, characteristics and skills of the company (based on human archetypes) compatible with the expectations of stakeholders. There are cases where public participation is essential for the definition of brand personality.

The Brand Personality is to define the desired Corporate Image, defining the key brand personality characteristics, first descriptively and later in an Image Board whose mission is to communicate the essence of sensations, feelings and style you want, without ever forgetting the recipient or the market (Costa, 2010).
This is a process similar to the embodiment whereby the mark takes a character and a behavior similar to that of humans (Aaker, 1997 and Kapferer, 2012).

The positioning or repositioning of the brand is a simultaneous process to the Brand Personality, as it is the symbolic and competitive location that the brand will occupy compared to competitors (Kapferer, 2012). A strategic statement of value that you want to create in the public mind (Minamiyama, 2007).
According to (Chernatony, McDonald and Wallace, 2011), the success of brands depends on the perception that its value transcends the price of the product or service, which is why the position should match the skills of the company and the recipient's expectations.
Visual Identity Design project from the perspective positioning focuses specifically on the conceptualisation and type symbols and graphic signs to adopt in order to ensure consistency with the Brand Personality, any existing graphics code in a sector and context of use and the highest possible differentiation level.

The Brand Personality is the psychological framework of the brand, its attributes, emotional archetypes and human values, lifestyle or character, associated with a brand or company and is defined before the brand exists, in result of the an intersection between the corporate identity definition and the desired brand image (or necessary to stand out from the competitors) in a certain market.
In a first stage, the definition of the Brand Personality content is made through a Brand Platform, that is, the synthesis of all strategic thinking about the brand, including its positioning, its personality, its values, its management against competitors and the main concept. Through this process, the mission, vision and values ​​of the brand are clarified.
The visualization of the Brand Personality (a method developed by Daniel Raposo based on a proposal from Joan Costa), is made following the principles of Synectics and using the collage technique. In this collage, the images, as a whole, describe in a non- verbal way, the universe of symbolic values ​​that surrounds the Brand Personality and the difference in its context.
In practical terms, the method is to make a collage with images which describe (as a whole) the symbolic universe the brand will project to the public. This collage is made through related visual analogies, answering written questions and also based on the Brand Platform data.
The objective of this method is to have a tool that improves the understanding between designer and client, facilitating the discussion about ambiguous concepts that are part of the Brand Personality definition.


4.6. The system and the design of signs Visual Identity

Based on Brand Personality, starts the drawing process of the identity of signs, centered on the recipient, seeking to ensure the technical, cultural, perceptive and symbolic. To this end, the objects are represented from its most expressive face and in order to obtain the lowest possible infrastructure signs, opting for proportionate and stylized design beyond what is merely a profile and can be raised by the Geons Test , proposed by psychologist Irving Biederman (1987).
When necessary, one is implemented naming process, which seeks to address the need for a verbal identity, the more stable sign of the whole system, keeping in mind its graphic sign (Costa, 2010).

In a chronological and informal sequence, graphic signs are displayed in a room wall, allowing the observation at distance and over time. The final solutions are tested in terms of reduction, blur and distortion, preferring those that best maintain the structure that allows recognition.

Using a sample that matches the recipient's audience profile, we proceed to the verification of denotative and connotative meaning of the brand marks and basic signs of visual identity, attending the objectives and the defined program. This verification process has been put into practice to establish a deviation curve between the intended meaning and understood, using methods such as the Focus Group (collection of views in a meeting with a small group of potential recipients) Expert Panel (consultation of experts in a particular field, seeking to generate consensus) or the Semantic Differential (Test with opposite adjectives scales proposed by sociologist Charles Osgood in 1957 and that you can use to verify the concepts that best describe the brand marks).

The validation of brand marks and other signs of identity occurs when corresponds to the brand personality and expectations of the public. In those cases where there is no match, it returns to the design process.
This phase includes the design of basic communication objects of the visual identity, both through analog and digital.
The Brand Book is developed from the perspective of assisting the company in the management and implementation of the project, especially fostering a sense of belonging for the development and dissemination of values and identity symbols.


4.7. Applications and Standardization

During this phase are developed applications or media for the promotion and strengthening of corporate reputation, but also essential instruments such as the Manual of Standards or the Graphic Standards Kit, depending on the size of the project and the company's needs.
The graphical standardization always includes the brand marks, but varies in structure and content, in order to adjust to the reality of internal and external communication of each company. In certain cases they are provided digital files to facilitate the graphic reproduction, avoiding distortions in a redesign or use scans.


4.8. Graphic Production, Implementation and Management of Visual Identity

As a partner of the company, the project team proceeds to the budget request and in many cases, taking into account the specific technical requirements, prepare files for print production, following up to finish.
The Brand Strategy chart serves as a guide in the implementation, which must be accompanied by public consultation, using the methods already listed for validation of the graphic signs.

Together with the customer, the team defines a campaign to publicize the new visual identity, often in digital and analogue media, including events.
Relatively often are designed digital files that aim to support the staff of the company in the daily use of stationary and brand marks, simplifying tasks and adapting them to unforeseen situations.


5. Findings

It is considered that the process of Design Identity, explained before, enables brands to become truly people-centered, since the design process begins by the definition of Corporate Image among people and in conjunction with the socio-cultural profile of stakeholders . On the other hand, the set of procedures adopted seek to involve users and integrate their experiences in the design process, reducing the margin of error at the level of decoding, generating an authentic content, inspiring and understandable by the public.
Over the years, it was possible to see how many of MSMEs still have little culture of brands, so devalue the Design Identity. Although they have a sense that the visual identity design plays an important role, not give it a strategic role.

The scarce technical and financial resources to develop branding processes and the lack of information to make decisions in this field, shows the importance of engaging them into design process, particularly with knowledge of inputs about the company and sector together with an awareness of what is developed.
The integration of managers in key stages of the design process allows you to understand that the brand is not limited to graphic signs and their management involves integration with the business strategy and the relationship with other tangible and intangible assets.

The Audit of Corporate Image allows students to better know the company and the business sector, without hitting the execution of market research.
The project promotes innovation and is positioned on optimizing the corporate message against the culture of specific target groups, taking into account economic conditions, legislative, competitive and market laws. Thus, it is a systemic approach to act on a large living system that integrates the company, the public, competitors and society in general.

Knowing the structure of the operation and state of the company or brand in its market(s) but also the integration CEO during the process, ensures a real relation between the design and the business structure.

From the academic perspective, the organization of students in specialized groups working in a common, has resulted in more complete results in size and quality. On the other hand, the constant need to explain to the project team what each group developed requires that the communication flow and allows you to review less positive aspects, increasing their understanding.



This paper was presented at Regional Helix 2016, and published exclusively at Convergences.



Aaker, J. L. (1997). Dimensions of Brand Personality. Journal of Marketing Research. Vol. XXXIV, (August 1997). pp. 347-356

Alierta, C. (2015). Una apuesta de Fundación Telefónica. Acercar la tecnología y la cultura a la sociedad. In Telos 100. Revista de Pensamiento sobre Comunicación, Tecnología y Sociedad (Febrero-Mayo ed., pp. 7-8). Madrid: Fundación Telefónica.

Barradas, V. L. (2016). La imagen de las marcas de ropa infantil creadas a través de la experiencia online (PhD thesis, Departamento de Información y Comunicación) (p. 357). Badajoz: Universidad de Extremadura.

Branda, M. & Cuenya, A. (2008). La enseñanza del diseño en comunicación visual: creatividad y comunicación. Actas de Diseño. Año III, Vol. 5, Marzo, Buenos Aires, pp. 63-66

Chaves, N. (1998). La Imagen Corporativa Teoria e metodología de la identificación institucional. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili.

Chernatony, L. de &Malcolm M. & Wallace, E. (2011). Creating Powerful Brands. 4th Ed. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd.

Costa J. (2004). La Imagen de Marca. Barcelona: Paidós Diseño.

Costa, J. (2009). DirCom Hoy. Dirección y Gestión de la Comunicación en la nueva economía. Barcelona: Costa Punto Com.

Costa, J. (2010). La marca: Creación, diseño y gestión. Cidade do México: Editorial Trillas

Davies, G. & CHUN, R. & Silva, R. V. da (2002). Corporate Reputation Competitiveness. 1th. Nova York: Rutledge

Davies, G., Chun, R., Da Silva, R. V., & Roper, S. (2003). Corporate reputation and competitiveness. London: Routledge.

Findeli, A. (2001) Rethinking Design Education for the 21st Century: Theoretical, Methodological, and Ethical Discussion. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Vol. 17, Number 1 Winter.

Fuad-Luke, A. (2009). Design Activism: Beautiful Strangeness for a Sustainable World. London: Earthscan

Holmlid, S. (2009). Participative, co-operative, emancipatory: From participatory design to service design.  In Proceedings of the First Nordic Conference on Service Design and Service Innovation. Oslo 24th – 26th, November 2009

Kapferer, J-N (2012). The New Strategic Brand Management Advanced insights and strategic thinking. 5th. London: Kogan Page

Kapferer, J.  (1991). Marcas: Capital da Empresa. Lisboa: Edições Cetop.

Lipovetsky, G. (2007). A felicidade paradoxal: Ensaio sobre a sociedade de hiperconsumo. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.

Marques, A. H. de O. (1997). História de Portugal: Das Origens ao Renascimento. Vol. I, Lisboa: Editorial Presença.

Martin, B. & Hanington, B. (2012). Universal Methods of Design. Beverly: Lockport Publishers

Martin, P. A (2006) Step Ahead of praxis: The role of Design problema Definition in Cultural Ownership of Design. In Bennett, A. (2006) Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design. Princeton Architectural Press, Nova York, pp.256-272

Minamiyama, H. (ed. lit.) (2007). World Branding: Concept, Strategy and Design. Corte Madera: Ginkgo Press

Olins, W. (2015). The Wolff Olins Report 2015. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from

Robinson, K. (2006). Do schools kill creativity? Retrieved May 13, 2016, from

Mitra, S. (2007). Kids can teach themselves. Retrieved May 15, 2016, from

Pérez, J. (2015). La globalización de las comunicaciones electrónicas Desafíos de la gobernanza de Internet. In Telos 100. Revista de Pensamiento sobre Comunicación, Tecnología y Sociedad. (Febrero-Mayo ed. pp. 17-21). Madrid: Fundación Telefónica.

Pombo, F. & Tschimmel, K (2005). O Sapiens e o Demens no pensamento do design: a percepção como centro. Salvador da Bahia: Revista Design em Foco, ano/Vol.II nº2, Jul./Dez. 2005, p.63-76

Sanz de Tajada, L. Á. (2008). La auditoria de la imagen de empresa: métodos y técnicas de estudio de la imagen. Editorial Sintesis.

Sanz de Tajada, L. Á. (2008). La auditoria de la imagen de empresa: métodos y técnicas de estudio de la imagen. Editorial Síntesis

Scott, J. (2013). Social Network Analysis. (3rd). London: SAGE.

Stickdorn, M. & Schneider, J. (2011). This is servisse design thinking: Basic tools cases. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons

Villafañe, J. (1993). Imagen positiva: Gestión estratégica de la imagen de las empresas. Madrid: Ed. Pirámide.

Weber, L. (2009). Marketing to the social web. (2nd.). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Reference According to APA Style, 5th edition:
Raposo, D. Martín-Sanroman, J. Neves, J. Silva, J. ; (2017) Visual Identity Design in the New Economy. Convergências - Revista de Investigação e Ensino das Artes , VOL X (19) Retrieved from journal URL: