Visual Identity For City Brand Cultural Studies Essay

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Visual identity can offer overall and united guidance for all visual communication of the creative city brand. It provides professional and artistic resource of design elements and artworks. It should be consistent for recognition while flexible in different media and budget.

The visual identity is completed by graphic design according to our brand pyramid. It should be 'aesthetically pleasing, connect with the audience on intellectual and emotional levels, and provide them with pertinent information' (Hembree, 2006). It is important that the sender of message and the receiver speak the same visual language. In this manner, the designer acts as the interpreter and translator of messages. From photograph to layout design, the graphic design is for designing a visual communication for forming image in receivers' mind. The nature of the image is 'both a formative process by which meaningfulness is achieved as well as a product of vision or thought by which the essential identity of a thing is grasped'…. 'The power of each image, whether it is produced in art, photography or in the mind's eye, may be seen as composed of a number of psychological implications related to various content factors-color, lighting, angle, focus, size, distance, shape, texture, and tone.' The visual language is formed from 'selective perception, past experience, personal and cultural attituedes and values - all of these combine in a variety of ways to interpret and fill in perceptual stimuli to build a rationally and emotionally meaningful communication.'(Barry, 1997)

The Edinburgh City Region Brand 'Edinburgh Inspiring Capital' is developed by the Destination Edinburgh Marketing Alliance (DEMA) Project for promoting the city. The project is started with designing a powerful visual identity for the brand 'draws its strength from the people and organizations who embrace it' (DEMA). This is a strong identity for delivering destination marketing activity. The guidance and website as part of the resource of the brand can also help organization to create new and powerful look and feel in their own brand communication. Through studying how DEMA design and use their city brand visual identity and combination with actual condition of promoting Foshan, lessons and suggestions are offered in the following elements:

'The ''lines of influence'' create a sense of the energy and direction of the past, present and future ambitions of the city. Residents also feel the lines gently echo some of the distinctive physical characteristics of the city region - from the dramatic arches of the Forth Rail Bridge to the undulations of Arthur's Seat and the lines of the nation's saltire.' (DEMA)

It is essential to note that the designing of creative brand logo of Foshan is different from designing logo for tourism since this is not only a tourist brand for tourist image but for all the stakeholders in the city. The logotype should be suitable for using in wider field of city promotion. Examining successful logos design for corporate and cities in history, they have features in common: simple and elegant, flexible in different time and media, unforgettable and representing the value and feature of the city. The choosing of the representation can be city symbol as well as key product.

The inspiration of colour can come from the physical appearance of the city as well as emotion and vision of the city according to colour psychology. Colour palette for DEMA was inspired by Edinburgh and its surrounding areas. For example, the colour slate is from architecture exterior while red represent the cover of books for visionary. For Foshan, green as the main colour seen on the road can be used in presenting the relaxing and comfortable life; orange is a colour for vigour and courage of innovation which used a lot in street events; slated-color as the colour for our cherishing history and culture.

In this part we discuss key points of choosing and processing photograph in using visual identity illuminated from photography guideline of DEMA and interesting photos about Foshan. In the end, two issues in combining all these elements are raised and discussed.

For Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, the first criteria of their choosing photos are 'inspirational' (DEMA). For Foshan, it is meaningless for taking and using photos that can be found on 'Google image' and in a stereotype way of presenting the prosperous and happy life in the city with few creative element that presenting our brand essence.

For Edinburgh, they should be 'warm with an element of vibrancy, depicting natural actions and emotions of people within them' (DEMA). For one of the brand values of Foshan: cherishing culture and history, manipulating the use of light is a important skill. For example, the light of sunset can apply an golden coating on the building and create longer shadow, which can emphasize the ancient and elegant side of the city(Fig 9).

The quality of photos and graphic is an issue should be noticed in the visual communication especially through internet. The quality of images in traditional media like TV and magazine are much better since they have more completed criteria. Even for this media, provide photos with photos more flexible in the situation of limitation use of colour and quantity is important. As disclosed before in the Xintiandi case, the bad quality of internet photos and blueprint prevent communication and also damage the corporate identity of high quality and elegant. Internet as a cheap, quick and searchable media should never be overlook. On the contrary, over-processed photos looks artificial also spoil. Setting up photography library for high quality, well positioned and classified photos like DEMA is one way of controlling the quality of photos.

Last but not the least, sense of place is important for choosing place for taking photos. Except for choosing place reflecting brand value and choosing according to the previous visual-physical securitizing, the place should be likable too. Nasar conducts research after Lynch's research of the city image for public's evaluative image for the city. After conducting interview with citizens in two American cities Knoxville and Chattanooga for their like and dislike of visual-physical features, five desirable features are indicated:

One of the desirable features by Nasar 'naturalness' is sometimes incompatible with image of prosperous in Chinese's perception. Modern and prosperous should be modern glass office building situated in the area with few naturalness like the centre of Canary Wharf. One of the solutions is shooting photos in different angles and placing it in different section of photography library for different message. Another way is using the gap of image to bring surprise to target audience. Three photos following are taken in the same spot of the city: the first one is facing the pond, the second is facing the road, and the third one is facing with playing children in the background of prosperous centre business district.

For place with 'historical signifance/content', we go back to the reality which discussed in the Xintiandi project again. There is group of people preferring old building and it is the place they grow up and they like as local people. However, when this kind of photo posted in the Internet, take as example, people like it think it like the beauty of ruins but do not treat it as a place to live. Some even wonder Foshan as an economic developed city will have such dilapidated streets and buildings which make them disappointed. This may be a good picture for a poet, but not for attracting other creative people to live in the city.

The British council has run a poster project balance the new and old image of Britain for their buildings and offices all over the world. The idea of collaging traditional portrait with contemporary artwork by Damien Hurst, English gentleman with world famed comedy character Mr. Bean and traditional English breakfast with international cuisine is interesting and convincing. The changing use of typeface from old-fashion serif to sans serif is the highlight of the design as well as help for the position of Britain as a country with advanced design industry.

No specific website for promotion of Foshan as a city to live. There are only small columns under city council websites or portal websites. Most of them are in bad design and edit. The others are tourist websites with information clutter without offering systematic information about the city. Here is the first two websites turned out in Google when typing Foshan in Chinese: in Guang-Fo Metropolitan (GFM) website and page in Foshan Government (FG) website. After examining their column page 'Creative Foshan' and 'Welcome to Foshan' on branding and introducing Foshan, I have indentified the following problems: