The history of graphic design is extensive and can be traced back hundreds of years. For the sake of this article, we are going to focus on graphic design as it was forming during the industrial era, and how the appearance and growth of corporations affected one aspect of graphic design in particular – logo design and the origin of the corporate identity guide.
Once upon a time, graphic designers were more likely to work full-time for a company for many years, unlike today, where there is an entire workforce of talented freelance designers that complete projects on a contractual basis. At the onset of corporate graphic design, the designer who created a logo, tagline or slogan for his or her company knew how the logo was to be used on all materials. However, it soon became clear that it would be necessary to communicate the proper usage to other people both inside and outside the company. After all, the designer couldn’t work at the company forever, and graphic designers also began to work outside companies as consultants. Thus, the corporate identity manual was born.
The practice of creating the corporate identity manual developed after WWII, as it was around this time that graphic designers began working more frequently as consultants on a contractual basis. The corporate identity manual is often a work of art in and of itself, as the designers showcase the many uses of a company’s logo, its color palette, typography, and proper orientations of the logo and other text. The purpose is to communicate to other designers how to apply the corporate identity, including logo, slogan, and tagline, in a variety of formats, and also how not to use the pieces in a design. Today, a corporate identity manual will describe both digital and print applications to maintain consistent design across all platforms.
A well-known designer (in the graphic design world at least), Lester Beall, can be credited with some of the earliest corporate identity manuals. He designed the manuals with care, and the books themselves are creations of beauty. Examples of his work for insurance company, Connecticut General, are seen below. The pieces are so appealing that they could be framed and hung on a wall rather than simply be used for their practical purpose. It is in this practicality and simplicity that the beauty of these manuals resides.
Corporate identity manuals can be quite fascinating and beautiful, existing in the unique space of being both practical guides for other designs, as well as works of design artistry themselves. Check out this list of 50 stunning corporate identity manuals for ideas.
As far as logos go, designing a logo for a new brand is one of the most important steps of the branding process. In fact, it could be placed at the epicenter of the brand, as it communicates, in a small space, often with little text, an entire brand story. This is why we carefully interview brand stakeholders, conduct discovery meetings and even focus groups when developing a logo. This is our due diligence in capturing the brand’s story.
Pinstripe Marketing’s logo design program is built around helping you discover your company’s character, and we can help you create a logo and corporate identity manual that will set the tone for your company’s success. Our creative team consists of listeners and discoverers that have an innate ability to help you achieve your vision. Contact us to tell us more about your company and the logo you envision.