Think Visual: Graphic Design and the Corporate Image
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts
Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Abstract: Seeking a way to maintain consistency and control over the corporation’s identity - recognized by both and employees and consumers - the corporation adopted a visual identity system to order and present itself as an individual global entity. This thesis examines precisely how the IBM Graphic Design Guide, necessitated by the reorganization of the corporation, visualized and instituted organizational changes within the company. Subsequent publications of the Design Guide register and respond to the maturing corporation and the realities of working day-to-day within such an expansive enterprise. As such, the Design Guide acts as the ideological center of the corporation, a living document that simultaneously shapes and is-shaped-by the corporation’s participants, providing an omnipresent system of envisualization to serve as the corporation’s broader identity. The purpose of the IBM Design Program was to create and implement a systematic approach to design and creative output in order to present a consistent corporate image through the use of visual language in order to present the corporation as a cohesive whole to both consumers and employees.