This is a pair of identity systems (symbolic/typographic) I developed for a fictional think tank located in Detroit, Michigan called If/Then for the first half of my Intermediate Visual Communication class at the College for Creative Studies. I used a system built on variables to determine visual output in both systems. The black and white iteration is the typographic version and the colorful system is the symbolic version. SWF’s for each can be found here and my initial brief for the client can be found after the links:
- Logo positioning is determined by the grid it is placed on.
- Color and logo positioning is determined by the client it is sent out to.
If/Then is a flexible group of intellectual, technical, and creative people with a broad range of skill sets that allow them to successfully identify and build upon their client’s strengths, improving their performance. The company’s ‘think tank’ functions similarly to a programmer debugging a script of code (lending meaning to its name), where they look for certain conditions that apply to their clients that are holding them back, apply known solutions, and then document the results for later reference with future clients. This method of business gives If/Then deep insight into the way the local economy functions, lending them an edge in assisting companies in being successful.
The goal of If/Then is bigger than just giving advice to faltering and new businesses. It’s about connecting ideas, people, and products in the Detroit area in a way that fosters growth and new development. They’re one of the leaders in an on going effort to bring about a revival in the economy of Detroit, a goal that will draw more people to Detroit and eventually bring about a social and cultural change.
If/Then’s location in Detroit gives them roughly two types of clients: Businesses that are in a flunk because of the economy and new start ups, looking to grow. For example, lets say there is a company that manufactures binders for local businesses. They’re losing money because not as many people are buying physical binders to store documents. If/Then would look for ways to make the manufacturing of their product cheaper and more efficient, saving time and money on production costs that can then become profit for the company. If/Then could help new start ups by connecting them with their past clients, helping carve out a niche in the local economy that would allow for rapid development.
The act of building and expanding based on previous concepts is best represented visually through the use of fractals and modular design. Fractals are complex repeating geometric structures that grow and shrink infinitely based on simpler elements. Because of their repetitive nature, fractals are great devices to give structure to information and objects. Modular design is basically the use of simple design elements that combine to create something more complex and useful. Paul Rand’s use of simple lines and dots to create simple yet expressive posters are the perfect example of graphic modularity. The included samples of furniture design are even easier to identify as modular. If fractals are paired with modular elements in design, a consistent yet extremely dynamic and varied identity system can be developed.
The most obvious approach to this identity is through code. The way If/Then works could be matched with a conditional identity. Different types of clients could be represented by color or graphic elements. Using the concept of code and scripting, I would build an identity that was based around the powers of two; 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, ect. These numbers could be used for font sizes, grid proportions, color values, or any other number of elements to make the design modular and easy to manipulate. Several of the identities included in my research use data to drive the final composition of the logo and other graphic elements. The Nordkyn logo, for example, is updated in real time to reflect the weather of the country it represents. The Casa da Música’s branding is determined by who and the stationary is for. This kind of customization within standardization can be used as a powerful visual metaphor for what If/Then does.