ICIG times it right, but let’s hear more debate

If ever a launch was well timed it is surely that of the International Corporate Identity Group (News, page 5). We’ve paid for the excesses of the Eighties, when the design community professed an exclusive knowledge of corporate cultures and companies were too often judged solely on the newness of their marque. Now as businesses worldwide face the complexities brought about by acquisitions and mergers on the one hand and globalisation on the other, corporate identity needs to be taken seriously again.

The ICIG promises to do just that, bringing together the various parties concerned with expressing and maintaining corporate culture. To this end last week’s launch brought together a healthy mix of identity-conscious designers, politicians, academics and industrialists.

Good intentions apart, the programme planned for the ICIG remains unresolved, even to folk who had been drawn into pre-launch sessions. A conference and workshop are planned, but little else was revealed at the launch. What did become clear though was the need for such a group, if only for its members to start to understand each other.

The two guest speakers at the launch are both experts in the image business, but shared little common ground in their presentations. Harvard professor Stephen Greyser talked of corporate reputation and how a good one can withstand lasting damage if a company comes under attack, but made nothing of the visual side. Clive Chajet of US design consultancy Lippincott & Margulies meanwhile overemphasised design in what was little more than a credentials pitch. Where was the rounded vision of how best in the Nineties to build a company’s personality and name?

We can but hope the ICIG instigators are sincere in their aims and real debate will begin soon. One thing they have got right so far is staging the launch in the House of Lords. Where else is a sense of history, culture and purpose more intact, and where else is the visual identity so well expressed that the gold portcullis logo even appears on the dark chocolates accompanying dessert?

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