Rules in corporate identity

The techniques may change,
the rules for graphic design will not

rules in corporate identityI have been a graphic designer for almost 30 years, so I had to develop several technical skills over time. When I started in 1985 fax machines were quite new and there were no computers in the offices in the Netherlands.

Most printers had offset, although there were a few that still used letterpress printing. Designs were made on the drawing table. The design drawings were transposed by phototypesetting. And, this still amazes me, there were no mobile phones, let alone the smart ones.

(All designs shown here by Hannie Mommers © Mommersontwerp)

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Corporate Identity: Making Business Strategy Visible Through Design

Wally Olins

A golden oldie. I read the book of Wally Olins to shreds and still leaf through it once in a while. Hard to get it nowadays.
It’s a great book to broaden my view.

Corporate design

House styles for all kinds of companies

rules corporate design
Design for a website

Corporate design is the total of logotype, elements like lines or dots, letter font(s), color(s) and overall feel of the design of a company.

The most important parts of a corporate design are the website, the stationary and the company brochures. I put a website deliberately on the first place, knowing that 20 years ago nobody had heard of a website. Things change!

People ignore design that ignores people – Frank Chimero

Designing for the future

Techniques come and go

housestyle for a photographer
A few applications of the corporate identity for a photographer

I have seen techniques evolve and vanish. Which is the reason I try to make designs that go with every technique. Even techniques I have not yet knowledge of, because they do not yet exist.

That is why I have developed a couple of rules:

  • A logotype is more important than an image, a trademark design
  • Form is more important than color
  • I don’t care about the color a client of mine asks for as long as it is not yellow and not a very light color. No baby blue, light green, lemon or pink. At best as a secondary color. Mind you, I am talking about the corporate design. I am not saying these colors can’t be used.
  • No red and green directly next to each other, because of the color blind people (1 in 20 men is red-green colorblind)
  • Not a really thin or a really black font as primary letter
  • A logotype should be well designed, visible and readable on a pen as well as on the side of a truck
  • Readability is more important than ‘nice looks’
  • A corporate identity should last for at least 20 years. No delusion of the day!
  • There are different customs in different countries
  • In case of a fantasy name try not to choose a name that has the wrong meaning in another language. I.e. Rabo, a big bank in the Netherlands, means robber in Serbian
  • No abbreviations. BBC for example has too many different meanings

Is it possible?

The other day I was teaching a class of 18-22 year olds about usability and made one of my favorite statements: “You don’t design for today, but you design for the future”.
The resistance in the group startled me, my assumption being that young people are flexible. But that can just as well be my own inflexibility. Maybe I am looking at this the wrong way.
What do you think, can one design for the future?

Nothing beats a new technique

Especially if you try to find out the limitations of it

experimentingUsing the possibilities of a new technique

I had my first fax in 1988. It was a fax machine with thermal paper, the kind of paper that turned yellow right under your nose and smelled bad. What I loved was that sometimes it got stuck and the most beautiful patterns developed that way.

And it got even better when I deliberately pulled the paper in different directions. Sure, only a couple of years later there were computer programs like the one from Letraset that could do the same but I love handiwork at times, because of a certain kind of roughness one can never make in a computer program.

There is no design without discipline. There is no discipline without intelligence. – Massimo Vignelli

A presentation of 25 years of design


I made this presentation when my company celebrated its 25th anniversary. Dutch Design for a quarter of a century.

My favorite worktool

I bought my first Mac, an FX-II, in 1991, being one of the first in my field to have a computer and using it. The price I had to pay for that thing!! I don’t want to think about that anymore. 🙂

And I never changed the winning horse, today I am very happy with my iMac.

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