Design Elements and Principles for Maintaining Visual Identity on Websites

Design Elements and Principles for Maintaining Visual Identity on Websites

Sunghyun R. Kang (Iowa State University, USA) and Debra Satterfield (Iowa State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-611-7.ch100
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The visual design of a website is critical when establishing a strong corporate identity on the web. The look and feel of a website will quickly influence a user with regard to how they perceive the image of the business. It will determine whether they feel comfortable or included in the site’s target audience and whether or not they feel the business is professional or trustworthy. If at a first glance, the visual design does not connect on these levels with the user the likelihood of them using the site or purchasing products is greatly diminished. Therefore, the site must quickly capitalize on a known and trusted pre-existing corporate identity, or establish a new corporate identity that is professional and appropriate. The purpose of this chapter is to examine design factors and determine which of these factors affect people’s ability to identify and perceive information on web sites. This chapter discusses how design elements can cross media boundaries and create a consistent and effective user experience between the physical business and its presence on the web. This chapter explains branding elements such as logos, color systems, typography, grid structure, photography, graphic style, and the visual hierarchy of information with regard to how they can be used in static and dynamic applications.
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The Design Elements Of Corporate Identity That Are Effective In Creating Web Site Identity

Corporate identity design in the physical world has been developed to consistently apply logos, colors, typography, grids, and other stylistic treatments to a variety of media and applications. In addition, corporate identity design in the physical world has a much longer history than does web site identity design. Therefore existing strategies and elements of corporate identity design from the physical world will be useful as a model for developing a strategy for web site identity design.

According to Haig and Haper, logos and symbols are known as basic and fundamental elements in the development of corporate identity design. A logo, as “one of business’ most outspoken non-verbal cues,” (Haig & Haper, 1977, p 1) conveys a company’s philosophy and message. Dowling (2001) further articulates the roles of corporate symbols: to create awareness; to trigger recognition of an organization; and to activate a stored image of the organization (p 167). Logos are used as a powerful tool for marketing. People often tend to make buying decisions based on the brand name rather than just for the product itself. Nike, Apple, and McDonald's logos are well-known examples of these types of corporate symbols.

Color is another important element in corporate identity. Color is easier to read than form or shape and it holds the viewer's attention longer (Dowling, 2001, p 177). We have often heard about Coca Cola red, Kodak yellow, and Barbie pink. Color also has cultural and psychological associations. The same color can be interpreted in different ways depending on the culture and context of the situation.

A corporate identity system can be thought of as a tool that is used to maintain a company’s corporate visual image. This system must be flexible enough for different applications, at the same time, tight enough to maintain visual consistency across media. Haig and Haper (1977) point out that 65 percent of our daily communication experiences are non-verbal (p9). Thus, the impact of visual information is a large part of our everyday life. The visual elements of a corporate identity system such the logo and color scheme can create an immediate sense of recognition for the company, express its character, and build familiarity and trust (Haig and Haper, 1977, p14). Corporate identity systems build branding far beyond just logos and colors. Therefore, both branding and corporate identity systems need to be integrated in the market place.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Corporate Identity: Taglines, logos, and marketing elements which could build company’s identity and brand image.

Visual Identity: Visual elements such as a corporate logo, system elements, color system, typography to build company’s identity.

Information Hierarchy: Structure and priority given to various pieces of information.

Grid: Organizational structure used to create information templates.

Design System: Strategy to integrate and maintain corporate identity using visual elements.

Logo: A graphical element composed of a symbol and/or organization name.

Experience Design: The way that the target audience experiences the brand from the first knowledge of the company through the complete consumer process.

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