|InfoVis.net>Magazine>message nº 147||Published 2004-06-08|
|También disponible en Español|
The digital magazine of InfoVis.net
Identity is the condition of sameness with another element to which it compares. Identitas means “the same” in latin, nevertheless identity is just what differentiates us, what makes us recognisable by the others as people, but also as corporations.
The Egyptians branded their cattle in order to identify them 3000 years BC. Manufacturing marks have been found in ancient Greek and Roman oil lamps and amphorae. In the middle age the heraldry provided tools for differentiation to the knights that fought in tournaments while the masonry was signed by their producers in cathedrals and other buildings.
More recently trademarks have become a fundamental part not only of corporate identity but of the message that it intends to send to its customers, employees and society in general. This means that it is integral part of the communication strategy of the company.
The mark and, more specifically the logotype, is essentially a visual element be it pictorial or textual. In general they are signs, elements, whose interpretation is different to their intrinsic one, that represent another thing than themselves and transmit, despite their simplicity, a complex fabric of meanings regarding what they represent.
But the visual part of corporate identity (the visual identity) goes beyond and, rigorously speaking, embraces what is commonly called a design programme. Per Mollerup in his excellent and more than commendable book “Marks of Excellence" considers that it’s through a design programme how companies communicate consistently to their interior and exterior what they are like (or how they would like to be seen).
A design programme consists of a series of basic elements and a set of rules for its application. Typically the elements are:
The combination of these elements with the multiple rules that can be defined on them give rise to several applications, like the design of correspondence, sales leaflets, advertising, packaging, shop frontals and interiors, etc.
Mollerup establishes a non-exact taxonomy of the different existing classes of trademarks, which we have adapted here using Conceptual Maps
Examples of the terminal classes described in the conceptual map are the following ones:
But more than focusing on the complex building of a design programme we are interested here in the communication of corporate identity and the rules that allow us to create the visual aspects of a good design programme and/or a good representation for the brand.
Mollerup follows the mathematical theory of communication of Shannon and Weaver. (see an introduction by the Georgia State University) that established the basic concepts of emitter , receiver, message, signal, noise etc, and detected three levels of problems in communication.
These three points translate to three questions that a trademark has to answer:
Regarding the transport of meaning, the comprehension of the message, the concept of noise in the theory of communication offers some aspects that can be useful in the design.
Noise is whatever interference or distortion that reduces the accuracy of decodification of the message. Besides technical noise, the one that disturbs the channel and degrades the signal, Shannon and Weaver recognise the existence of the semantic noise that is “perturbations or distortions of meaning which are not intended by the source but which inescapably affect the destination”.
Transferred again to our case Mollerup proposes two new questions:
Context and culture are common sources of semantic noise in communication. An interesting example is that of the Red Cross, that uses a red crescent in several countries of Islamic culture to avoid the confusion of their humanitarian interests with religious interests alien to the local culture.
The creation of brand, besides being a tool of Marketing, is a form of information visualisation, although here the information does not lie in a database but it has a lot to do with the many facets of a company, like prestige or excellence, the values and objectives etc. that are sometimes difficult to quantify.
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