D. Calabi, E. Chiodo

Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
The paper wants to present an alternative model for the design of urban corporate identity and city branding.
In the first part the paper presents traditional and famous case studies of city branding and after it wants to present, as an example of completely different design approach, our didactic methodology and the experimental projects developed by students, in the field of Communication Design for urban environment.

In our design approach, the graphic mark, the logo, that represent the city wants to visualize details, and emerging forms related to the complex urban identity; so it is opposed to the use of stereotypes (e.g. graphic representation of tourist landmarks) as visual synthesis of the city image.
In fact our studies aim and didactic results want to bring attention to the revaluation of the "urban signs": "the traces on the skin of the city".
The goal of the our didactic course is to design models of corporate identity and city branding starting from what the city shows about itself; so the trace, the detail, the minimal signs become bearers of meaning.

The didactic projects, developed in our course, want to represent the image of the city through unconventional graphic marks. So these graphic marks and logos are, of course, "visual summaries" of city values, but these are not related to the city stereotypes that instead are usually used for city branding.

The urban traces become the starting point for the creation of logos and communicative artifacts. The method used, starting from the analysis of the basic graphical elements, it consists of different phases of design.

It consists of: a first sampling phase, a photographic collection of urban traces, a concept phase and a design phase, in which the students define the visual aspect of the graphic mark and logo.

The graphic marks and logos designed by students show different aspects of city's identities. In fact the marks, gathered in a collection, show an "atlas of signs": traces that express the "character" of the city.