To be: There is no identity until it materializes in some form. Therefore, the form it takes will be the visible representation of the identity. That form will summarize in a few strokes the complexity of “being”.
That representation, that brand which contains the identity, must contain something so valuable that it will speak in name of someone or something; it must transmit something that differentiates values and customizes its messenger. Hence, in a world in which people are known more through representations than in person, these become an essential part of our identity.
Designing identity: Designing visual identity is projecting an image that represents the something, that is to say, which publicly substitutes it, occupying the role of narrator of the identity.
The existence of a narration or an identity script is necessary for the image to have that role. To find such a script, it is necessary to submerge ourselves in the memories, stories and realities of our client. With that knowledge, to then plan a synthesis that conceptually marks their limits, a synthesis that will imprint the genetics of the image policy.
Finally, that script must be made tangible, which is why it requires material infrastructure that allows the image to stand by itself and to be presented in the social setting of the organization’s life. It is here where, as a consequence of the graphic interpretation, metaphors of myths, narration of sense, origin and articulation of differences, all of them take visual form. In other words, the visual identity will come to life.
Branding issues: The mixture between image and identity could be thought of as related to brand issues. Branding is important for current social life, for business, for collective identities and for men and women’s souls. It allows people to identify, organize, classify, embody and make sense of the world.
Issues on branding are issues about identity or, more precisely, about identification, which can be understood, in a psychoanalytical sense, as the transformation that takes place when someone or something assumes an image. The identifying process with images is dynamic, because it is always joining social images to personal ones, taking the entity of just some of them and rejecting the rest of the existing images. This selection is constantly questioning or reinforcing the way the observers see their own identity by forcing the beholders to explain themselves in their positions, in their differential belonging with other images considered to be as themselves, with other conclusions, other stories, discourses and collective identifications. It is within this struggle among images – as Foucault states it – that the image’s design becomes powerful when entering the domain of other discourses.
Why does this work? An anthropological answer would be that nothing socially exists until it is represented. In that way, representation might well be part of the resources that make any social bond alive, making visible and tangible any membership or relationship. On the other hand, people, organizations, companies or objects need image to perform the dynamic process of leading their closure of structuring totalities for having their individualization.
But if identification is related to images…what is an image? An image is an intentional cut-out of the world surrounding us, which reaches the status of an entity in itself. That entity can be powerful and imposing because it carries meaning in a sudden way to those who see it and this is achieved by means of two qualities of visual media. First, its parts act as words that articulate representations like information in the way of a text. Second, the strength that arises by the construction of that instantaneous, synthetic, organic and organized discursive completely confuses the perceptions in the spectator, naturalizing or presenting an assembly of fragments as some meaningful reality.
Thus, identification can be understood as the embodiment with images of object discourses, something pertaining to corporate branding, and the visual embodiment of ideological discourses, something pertaining to the institutional or political branding. Both are part of human resources to structure and make sense out of all components of reality.
©Sebastian Guerrini, 2012