08 November 2006
Ulf Harr and Elke Ziegler Nonfrontiere
Ulf Harr and Elke Ziegler Nonfrontiere

A logo is a logo is a logo. Or is it? With the integration of digital media into corporate communication and the presence of the computer and mobile assistants in all areas of (working and private) life, CI handbooks, too, are now having to be rewritten - at least in part. For example, a logo now has to be suitable for not only printing, but also for integrating in websites and CD-ROMs. Also, the employees themselves are becoming more and more autonomous in their design options. Now more than ever before, a CI has to be highly integration-capable.

Paper versus screen
A company website always has a functional context. The CI must span both content, orientation and navigation, and thus corporate design in the digital media has to fulfil different requirements:

- From logo to animation
The investment bank of an Austrian credit institution plans a brokerage website for Central and Eastern Europe. As part of the process a brand new logo is to be developed. The creation process is thus reversed . The animated logo for the screen is monitored for its functionality for use in print applications.

- Design tool and hierarchy
At the website of the commerce-service provider EARN-E, SMEs can hire online shops. The complex and diverse content is organised clearly by means of a graduated typographic system. In the digital media therefore typography not only helps recognition, but also orientation. Type becomes a fundamental element of navigation.

- From colour palette to colour coding
Generally in the digital media fewer colours are available, but they are used against a far wider range of backgrounds. For, in addition to its contribution to image building, the colour palette has to be flexible enough to act as an orientation aid in the navigation system, as in the case of the website of Bank Austria.

- Static versus dynamic
In digital media there is no beginning and no end. While communication in traditional company publications like annual reports operates linearly and in a static environment, on website and CD-ROMs a number of content areas are available at one time. Navigating on sites therefore becomes a dynamic process which the user masters by means of an easy-to-follow navigation system.

But CD elements themselves can become dynamic. In the case of EARN-E, for example, the logo has a form which can be recognised in various situations. It is not defined by static symbols. Although the suggested green letter in the centre of the logo changes, and therefore underlines the contents on the site in question, the brand remains untouched.

My Microsoft ClipArt's are much nicer than the new design.
The challenge in corporate designing for the digital media is not only in production, but increasingly also in applications. Because the tool of the computer has shifted the relationship between designer and user, the latter now having almost the same possibilities as the designer. Virtually any computer user now can set type, design company notepaper, create presentations etc, which means they are in the position to change for themselves the CI of the company. The corporate identity, or the way a company sees itself, can only tally with the corporate image, i.e. the perception of that company from the outside, if the corporate design is used in a targeted and considered way. To ensure these dimensions harmonise and are not counteracted by the possibilities open to individuals through Word, PowerPoint or PhotoShop, it s more important than ever to integrate and train employees.
Paper is after all more forgiving than the computer screen, especially when it comes to legibility and orientation. CD for print products is static, while CD for the digital media has to hold its own in a dynamic process of discussion with the employees.

About this article
This article was reprinted from Novum World of Graphic Design 08/01, with permission.