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School of Business | Department of Management Studies | International Business Communication | 2015
Thesis number: 14114
Building visual identity in start-up companies
Author: Suokas, Elena
Title: Building visual identity in start-up companies
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Management Studies
Academic subject: International Business Communication
Index terms: yritysviestintä; business communication; viestintä; communication; kansainvälinen; international; yritykset; companies; kasvu; growth; identiteetti; identity; visuaalinen; visual
Pages: 72
Key terms: international business communication; corporate visual identity; corporate identity; start-up companies
Objective of the Study:

The objective of the study was to explore the development of corporate visual identity in the context of start-up companies. Previous research on visual identity has focused on established companies rather than new ventures. The aim of this research was to fill this gap. In particular, this thesis looked at the processes that occur in terms of decisions on corporate visual elements, namely corporate name, logo, color palette, font and slogan. The study aimed to answer the main research question: (1) How is the visual identity constructed in start-up companies?, and the sub-question: (2) How are the decisions regarding corporate visual identity elements made in start-up companies?


The research method and data collection for this explorative, qualitative research consisted of four semi-structured interviews, conducted mainly with CEOs and founders of start-up companies. The companies represented a sample of high-technology start-ups. The theoretical framework for the research was based on the literature review of corporate identity and corporate branding. The framework depicts the process where the mission of the company is the starting point of creating visual identity elements (name, logo, colors, font and slogan).

Findings and Conclusions:

The findings of the study indicate that the decision-making processes behind choosing specific visual elements are unique to each start-up company and there is a variety of ways to build visual identity. There are three main findings of the study. First, corporate visual identity is closely linked with the product or service the start-up company is trading. Second, in start-up companies that operate in B2B market, the development of visual identity elements involves a strong involvement of the founder. Third, all of the visual identity elements are modified quickly as the business concepts are developed, modified and refined.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.