Behind the award-winning dormakaba brand refresh
Monday, 29 January 2024
The year 2023 marked another step in the company’s brand evolution, as dormakaba refreshed its brand with a modern design, which has now been named a winner of the German Design Award in the category of ‘Excellent Communications Design – Corporate Identity’ in January 2024.
Benchmarking with leading brands outside the industry, the objectives were: fit for digital, consistency across all touchpoints, ease of use and enabling storytelling to humanize the brand as well as connect emotive interaction with the company’s technology and product solutions and their architectural context.
To facilitate greater understanding of the process, Robin Carpenter (Senior Brand Specialist) and Bernhard Heitz (Lead Product Design) explain their perspectives on corporate and product design.
What is good design?
Bernhard: In general, there are many aspects to design quality, but three stand out as essential: usability, simplicity, and holism. From a product perspective, good design showcases the end-user experience, that is to say, the ease of using and working with our products, which was also our goal with the corporate design refresh. In short, good design is about making things easy.
Robin: Unlike product design, corporate design is a framework that is used throughout the whole company. Corporate design defines a collection of visual elements and design rules, and colleagues add content creating a broad spectrum of media and touchpoints. For corporate design to qualify as good, the design definitions and rules need to be clear and easily applicable and give content a platform while maintaining recognizability and consistency across touchpoints.
This is not dormakaba’s first award for excellent design. What benefit does the company gain from these awards?
Bernhard: On the one hand, receiving recognition from an independent jury is highly motivating for the team. On the other hand, products with award labels help customers to recognize outstanding product design and highest quality.
Robin: Awards can prove that our efforts have gone in the right direction. And besides the appreciation from external experts, communicating about awards is marketing in itself. It positions our brand and products as leading-edge and design-driven.
Can you describe the approach of developing the corporate design refresh?
Robin: The first step was to identify the weaknesses of the old status quo and then introduce relevant solutions to stakeholders. To sharpen our brand image, we had to strengthen consistency in visual and verbal cues and connect the brand with relevant content. While staying true to our strong heritage, we minimized the corporate design elements to maximize space for telling our story. These narratives are built around places that matter to people using our products. To create a more consistent brand appearance, we implemented a unique font, a new layout system and our brand tag, which then becomes recognizable across touchpoints.
Bernhard: dormakaba’s offering is very broad; it spans different complexities of products and various industries. Our aim was to emotionalize and simplify these technological topics so people can easily relate to them.
What are the key characteristics of the new corporate design?
Robin: The new corporate design is more consistent across touchpoints, it allows better integration of our key messaging and it is easier to apply. With dormakaba’s brand hub we also established a central repository as the go-to place for everything around our brand.
What were the biggest challenges in developing a new design?
Robin: It is a bold move for a company to change established corporate design assets such as the font or introduce a central new element like our brand tag. As we’ve mentioned, corporate design touches many, if not all aspects of a business. For corporate design to become branded reality, the roll-out is a major variable. With the amazing positive response we have had from many colleagues, we gained that traction you need. Many colleagues wanted to apply the new corporate design, even becoming ambassadors for the design changes. Our current focus is to continue and expand global training on the possibilities offered by the visual elements and storytelling to bring the brand to life.
Bernhard: The roll-out of the design changes had to be very fast and comprehensive. That included not only our print media and websites but all digital interfaces within our group. For product-related interfaces we worked out every little detail to express the quality of the product on the visual surface, and we updated and tested our XEA Design System on our digital platform.
What role does design play in dormakaba’s capacity for innovation?
Bernhard: When developing new products, we always focus on innovative design and functional aesthetics, enabling us to meet our customers’ expectations.