Book review: Uncorporate Identitity

On: September 19, 2010
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About Hanneke Mertens
My name is Hanneke Mertens and I am currently busy combining studying for the MA New Media and working at Capgemini. I am trying to keep my focus on social media, design, marketing and usability in my study and work. But there is so much more what gets me interested, especially since I started my Master at the UvA. For two years I have been working at Capgemini where I have done a lot of project management assistant roles, currently I am working as content manager for BNP Paribas. It was quite interesting for me to start working in business. Before I started working there ,I finished the Master Controlling Creative Design at the PSAU (UU). In this study I developed a videogame with a team of game designers and did an internship at the European Culture Foundation. Definitely more idealistically and creative than business life. That’s why I am happy to study again. For now, I think and feel that I have the perfect combination, studying and getting my curiosity gratified but also working and being a bit more pragmatic.

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Welcome to Europe shows us a picture of a painted sun in red, yellow and black colors. This logo was created by the Spanish artist Joan Miró in 1980. This logo, or brand had as main purpose to reposition Spain as a welcoming and vibrant destination for tourists. On the following page we see logo’s of other nation-states which remind us of the Spanish one. They have the same loosely font, an image of the sun and the use of primer colors. The book “Uncorporated Identity “concludes that these adoptions lacked the artistic signature and became steered by the hand of the branding industry. Next it shows us how these national brands resemblance the logo’s of IT-firms, which use the same full-color spectrum. Even the European Union chose a logo with loosely font and primer colors:

Together, with every character set in a different typeface and color. Sex Pistols (Never Mind the Bollocks) meets Miró at the coffee dispenser, Together appeases with all the formal criteria of diversity and tolerance- family-friendly Europunk for all ages.”

Next, Uncorporated Identity presents us another way of how European countries use branding and how the idea of diversity and tolerance is a question of the specific target group that is kept in mind. They bring in two campaigns, one from Switzerland and one from Spain. Both campaigns portray Europe as a terrible place to life for migrants. So, European countries brand them self as sunny travel opportunities and on the other hand as rainy, terrible places to go.

In many forms, all the contributors of the book try to unmask and construct Uncorporate Identity, which are abstractions of organizations we can see when the corporate logo is removed.

“A logo has trouble closing the gap between itself and the intangible thing it stands for. The emblem or image that represents an organization is a surface to cover that void.”

So if that logo is removed, we can see what is underneath. Uncorporate Identity provides us two ways of doing this, one way is iconoclasm: Remove to Expose and the other one is Crisis: the vanishing of an organization while its emblems and trademarks survive. This way we can analyze what is tried to be covered by the logo.

The book offers for instance an interview with anthropologist Michael Taussig on his essay Defacement, which arguments that destruction is the closest to the sacred. Taussig also writes about the Iconoclasm “Iconoclasm maybe not so much a case of subverting a steadfast and moral image, but the bringing to the surface of a latent vice that was always there.”

Uncorperate Identity is a collection of articles, interviews, studies, letters, comics, pictures etc. It is an inspirational book on how design is used in our time of political instability, economic recession and cultural disorder. It is a beautiful book which also challenges its reader to take a different perspective on how design is used.

The book “Uncorporate Identity, has many contributers such as: Vladimir Kolossav, Michael Taussig e.o. it is edited by Metahaven and Marina Vishmidt. Published by Lars Müller Publishers with the Jan van Eyck Acedemie, 2010

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