Corporate Design

From WebScience

Jump to: navigation, search

Fact Box
Module Design
Uwe Stoklossa
Credits 3
Term Term 1, Term 2
Course is required
Current course page Winter 2016
Active No

The Big Idea

Corporate Design has to be understood as an ongoing process and not a final status or the end of a project. It should also be seen as one part of the superordinated Corporate Identity- or Branding-process. The word “Design” in this context can easily mislead to the assumption, that it deals only with graphic challenges like logos and business stationery. But ideally we are talking about accompanying an integral management process of e.g. a new company, a new product or brand launch, a merge between two companies or a strategic reorientation which has to be communicated internal and external.

Our environment is continuously changing towards a society based on information and services. Our lives will become more and more web-based, values will become more and more intangible. That generates an increasing demand for orientation and identity which reveals the immense and increasing importance of Corporate Design and Corporate Identity especially in web-based businesses.

The rise of the internet had an enormous influence on the whole idea of Corporate Identity and Corporate Design. The traditional barriers of space and time vanished in business to consumer (B2C) relationships. Web 2.0 marked a revolution in the consumers ability to communicate directly with companies. The diversification of the media landscape puts well established methods into question. These developments are leading to a paradigm shift in the definition of Corporate Identity ending up in the question if “Corporate Identity” perhaps isn't what a company predicts to be, rather than what it's in the people's mind about the company. This insight could mark a turning point for Corporate Identity, Branding and Public relation work in the future. The risks and possibilities of this development should be discussed within the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After attending the course, the students are able to make profound decisions in processes related to Corporate Identity in general and Corporate Design in particular with a special focus on web-based projects.

For this purpose the students

- are familiar with the classic definitions of “Corporate Identity” and “Corporate Design”, as well as the related disciplines like “Corporate Communications”, “Corporate Behaviour” and “Corporate Culture”.

- have a basic knowledge about the history and milestones of these disciplines.

- are equipped with a shared and common vocabulary of the branch to communicate in interdisciplinary teams.

- they understand Corporate Identity as a strategic management process and are aware of the potential and consequences of decisions made in this context.

- they are aware of the big structural change within the branch during the last years and try to develop new strategies by taking advantage of all possibilities of today's changed world of interactive media.

Structure of the Course


Corporate Identity as well as Corporate Design and its evolution from the 1920s till today, will be introduced on the basis of different definitions as of Edward L. Bernays, Peter Behrens, Wally Olins, J.M.T. Balmer, Olivia Kiriakidou/Lynne J. Millward, and Jesus Meza Lueza. The students will also have an overview of the associated disciplines like “Corporate Communications”, “Corporate Behaviour” and “Corporate Culture” and understand how these fields are connected to each other. All information will be explained with lots of concrete examples.

Corporate Design Basics

Corporate Design is complex and manifold. According to Alina Wheeler and Kevin Budelmann/Yang Kim/Curt Wozniak, we are exploring the basic elements in a Branding Process.


Prior to the Design related tasks, a lot of strategic considerations and analysis has to be done. Who are the stakeholders? What is the brand strategy, the mission, the competitive positioning, the USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? Are there customer experiences that have to be considered?


In Corporate Identity and Corporate Design processes a company or a brand is handled like a personality. During these processes nearly philosophical questions occur like “Who are we?” or “Where are we going?”. To find answers you have to make up your mind about intangible values and talk about a corporate's vision, meaning, authenticity, coherence, durability, flexibility or commitments. It is an essential part in this process to postulate communicative criteria which represent the defined values. This will lead to a “Brand Identity” and their aim is to make the intangible values tangible for everyone.


The search for the right words is an often underestimated challenge within a Corporate Design process. It all starts with the name. A name is an essential brand asset that naturally will be passed on by word of mouth, independent from official communication in campaigns and ads. Within this context we will analyze the related terms "Slogan", "Claim" and "Tagline" and outline the differences between each other. Another topic in this context is "Brand Architecture", which deals with a hierarchy of different brands within one company or different sub brands under the umbrella of a mother brand.


Brandmark, Trademark, Symbol, Logo, Mark, all these terms are basically meaning the same: a visual implementation of the defined name of a company, brand, or product. We will have a closer look on the different categories of marks like Wordmarks, Letterforms, Emblems, Pictorial Marks and Abstract, or Symbolic Marks.

Look and Feel

Corporate Design comprehends a holistic approach in all aspects of design. Every visual detail represents a certain message in form and content. Style, color, imagery, typography and sensory are the design parameters which are able to generate or influence the designated "Look and Feel". Therefore a profound knowledge about the different impact of these parameters is required. In connection with the increasing importance of online-communication, sound and motion as additional sensory parameters should be paid particular attention.


An immense amount of different media has to be designed to generate a recognizable brand identity. And there are different philosophies if this has to be done as consistent and uniform as possible throughout all kinds of media, or if every medium with its characteristics has to be treated in a different way. Some examples of what has to be taken in to consideration: business stationery, sales material, website, signage, product design and packaging, advertising, corporate architecture and business environment, vehicles, uniforms, giveaways, …

Brand Management

As stated in the first sentence Corporate Identity and Corporate design has to be seen as an ongoing process. Nevertheless it is important to define rules and guidelines that have to be followed in generally to represent a consistent and uniform appearance internally and externally. The bigger a company or brand will be, the more important is a set of tools for a professional brand management. We will have a close look on different kinds of guidelines which define standards in handling all kinds of media. This implies a basic knowledge of different kinds of important file formats and metrics.

Didactic Concept, Schedule and Assignments

The course concept comprises basic readings, online workshops, online group work and an introductory and final on site presence. After a first introductory lecture on site, the subject is treated in three online workshops. Results of the group works are presented and discussed in a final session on site. Online workshops are held on three evenings with a duration of three hours each.

Introductory lecture on site

The introductory meeting deals with organizational course details, defines the terminological basics and overviews the history and evolution of the discipline till today. The session will be complemented with some experiments to illustrate the theory with concrete business examples. Finally groups will be built and topics for different case studies will be assigned.

1st Online workshop

At first the results of the case studies will be presented by the groups, followed by a short discussion. After that the fundamentals of Corporate Identity will be defined, starting with "Strategy" and "Values". To get a realistic idea of the entire Corporate Design and Corporate Identity process, all the terms will be explained with the help of examples. Furthermore groups of two students will each found a fictitious company and incrementally follow the different steps of the process with them in little exercises.

2nd Online workshop

In the second workshop the topics "Naming", "Brandmark" and "Look and Feel" will be explained and trained using the example of the fictitious companies of the student's groups in a mixture of lecture, group work, presentation and discussion.

3rd Online workshop

The third workshop will complete the simulation of a Corporate Design process with the examination of the topics "Media" and "Brand Management". Again the students will follow the examples by applying the ideas to their fictitious companies in theory. An open discussion about the future of Corporate Design, especially in reference to web based applications should conclude the session.

Wrap-up session on site

This on site workshop is dedicated to present a revised presentation of the fictitious companies, their Corporate Identity strategy and Corporate Design solutions. An agreed set of communicative realisations will be presented to the group.


The concluding on site session will contain a written examination (45 minutes). The students will receive a Corporate Design from a company, which they have to analyse and valuate. The final grade will be determined by the written examination and the group work during the online workshops in equal parts.


Past Course Pages