Publications

Books
W. Bakker, Droom van Helderheid: huisstijlen ontwerpbureaus en modernisme in Nederland : 1960-1975, 010 Publishers, Rotterdam 2011.
W. Bakker & F. Huygen, Archief Total Design, NAGO/[Z]OO producties, Eindhoven 2009.

Articles
W. Bakker, ‘Icograda and the development of pictogram standards : 1963-1986’, Iridescent : Icograda Journal of Design Research, Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2013.
W. Bakker, ‘De toekomst van de documentaire bedrijfsfotografie: overvloed en onbehagen’, in: B. Sorgdrager & F. Bool (red.), Reader Fotografie en Industrie, St. Joost/Avans University of Applied Sciences, Breda 2010.
W. Bakker, ‘Design in de supermarkt : De huisstijlen van De Gruyter en Simon de Wit begin jaren zeventig’, Jong-Holland, nr. 2 2006, pp. 14-23.

Books & Readers (ed.)
B. Bos, A. Shaughnessy & T. Brook & W. Bakker (ed.), TD 63-73, Unit Editions, London 2011.
W. Bakker, K. van der Waarde (ed.), Reader Pictogrammen, St. Joost/Avans University of Applied Sciences, Breda 2010.
W. Bakker, K. van der Waarde (ed.), Reader Verpakkingen, St. Joost/Avans University of Applied Sciences, Breda 2009.
W. Bakker, K. van der Waarde (ed.), Reader Huisstijlen, St. Joost/Avans University of Applied Sciences, Breda 2009.

Papers (refereed)
W. Bakker, Pictopolitics : Icograda and the development of pictograms : 1960-1975, Information Design Association (UK) Lecture Series 2010, London.
W. Bakker, Deviating from the straight course : Dutch signage 1965-1975, paper read at the Design History Society (DHS) Conference 2007, Kingston-upon-Thames.
W. Bakker, The obvious choice : an evolutionary approach towards trademark design, paper read at the DHS Conference 2006, Delft.
W. Bakker, Man to Manual? : The Diverse Roots of Corporate Identity, paper read at the European Business Historians Association (EBHA) Annual Conference, 1-3 september 2005, Frankfurt.

Dissertation summary
KLM-logo-drawing-1963
Xerox of KLM-logo (design Henrion, original unknown) 1963 (coll. Bakker)

In the 1960s, companies such as Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), energy group SHV, supermarket chain Albert Heijn, the Dutch National Railways (NS) and chemical giant DSM were the first to introduce visual identities in the Netherlands. These identities were the visual manifestation of the modern and industrial nation that the Netherlands had become after World War II. As such, they had a major influence on the appearance of society. Surprisingly, the development and proliferation of visual identities has not been studied before.

The development of visual identity in the Netherlands was researched by analyzing a number of case studies of the period between 1960 and 1975. The focus was on the argumentation used by design agencies and companies in the development and presentation of corporate identities. Because of the general lack of literature on this subject, mainly primary sources were used such as archive material and interviews.
The best-known identities were designed by Dutch design agencies like Tel Design (1962) and Total Design (1963). These agencies had a positive attitude towards the industry, which they believed responsible for the great technological progress and prosperity after the war. Using a modernistic design approach, designers hoped to achieve an efficient visual communication that could benefit society as a whole. They believed that corporate identity could express the existing order in society and enhance efficiency.

Gert-Dumbar-NS-logo-1968
Gert Dumbar photographs his NS-logo, ca. 1968 ( coll. Truijen)

At the same time, the management of Dutch firms gradually became aware that a good ‘corporate image’ was necessary for a favourable position on the market. A major influence on this realization was the rise and acceptance of new American management and marketing methods. In parallel with this development, lower-level employees were confronted with practical problems regarding a uniform use of company logos. Together with design agencies, they convinced company directors that a modern-looking visual identity could solve their problem and, more importantly, that it would have a positive effect on the ‚‘corporate image’.

Dutch agencies, however, were hostile towards the view that a corporate identity was essentially a marketing tool. It seemed to collide with their idea of what constituted ‘good design’. Despite this, the agencies found common ground with their clients by also presenting visual identities as a form of (visual) efficiency. The agencies thus complied with the long-existing interest in ‘standardization’ many companies had.
Remarkably, the industrial firms, which seemed the most interested in ‘standardization’, were also the first to come under the influence of marketing. These companies, like Shell, Akzo and Philips, chose the more marketing-driven English agencies, notably Allied International Designers (1959) led by James Pilditch. At the end of the sixties–when the development of corporate identities was in full motion–this agency became a major competitor for Tel Design and Total Design.

AID-management-1966-KL
AID-management-1966-KL AID-management with James Pilditch sitting on the left, ca. 1965 (coll. Cree)

In the beginning of the seventies, however, a change set in. An economic recession resulted in a decline of visual identity assignments. At the same time, Dutch society was stirred by large social changes. Youngsters rebelled against the authoritative way the government behaved, and public opinion developed a hostile attitude towards companies. Within the design profession, an increasing criticism towards modernism arose, as it seemed to corroborate the existing social order.

SImon-de-Wit-Truck-1971
Visual identity design for supermarket chain Simon de Wit, Tel Design 1971 (coll. AH)

Total Design, led by graphic designer Wim Crouwel, in particular came under attack. By then, Tel Design–under the artistic guidance of the designer Gert Dumbar–had already switched towards a more post-modern view of graphic design. At the end of the 1970s, Dutch design agencies increasingly turned their attention to the government and public sector, which were more open to their idea of what constituted design for the public good. Visual identity had become a normal phenomenon in society.

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