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How Identity Document Design Promotes a Country’s Culture

When creating new identity documents, one of our guiding principles is that great design should bring delight to those who are viewing it. Some of that delight comes from recognizing and relating to the national and cultural elements which have been incorporated into the design.

Beginning the Journey With a Threefold

To begin our journey to delight, we need to understand our challenges — these are threefold: we must first select and agree upon the theme, then select appropriate subjects which relate to the theme and finally we must weave these into our design with our security features.

Incorporating National Design Elements

The overarching themes typically fall into the following categories: buildings and architecture, landscapes, people, flora and fauna or patterns — all of these comprise the very fabric of a country. Selecting precise subjects to fit the theme is our next and probably biggest challenge as there is a wide range of complexity to navigate. Given the entire history, geography and achievements of a country to choose from, how do you choose the right elements to best represent, promote and inspire that country? Everyone has an opinion on design content, what you like and don’t like, what should or should not be included and whether your local region is sufficiently well represented.

This is magnified when it comes to subjects of national importance — campaigns have been popularized to promote certain individuals or subjects, but the power of the crowd can also be harnessed to elicit opinion and propose competition — something which has become increasingly popular.

Evoking Emotion and Engaging Cognition With an ID

The character of the document comes from the way in which all the design elements and security features combine together to create a composition which is more than the sum of its parts, one that can evoke emotion and engage cognition. Here we can choose the colors which define that country’s identity, with a broad palette to choose from. Do we use the colors of the national flag? Are bright and vibrant colors more appropriate or a traditional muted pastel tone? The most iconic identity document designs distill the essence of a country into a tiny footprint — this is where great design is appreciated.

Creating a Consistent Design From the Overall Theme to Hidden Elements

When you examine the document you should be able to appreciate the content and understand the theme, even better when there are hidden elements which reveal themselves upon closer examination. The impressive amount of detail we can incorporate into the design allows more than just the instant gratification of spotting the familiar; upon closer inspection new elements of the design may be revealed.

An Identity Document Reflects Its Country

A country’s passport or identity card is reflective of who its people are, where they have come from and what their ambitions are — even the youngest of countries have a history which has led them to today and this should be celebrated.

How do you want your citizens to feel about your next identity document? Read more about our award-winning design concepts.

Matt Sugdon, PhD, is the Director of Security Graphics at HID Global and leads the creative team producing security designs for passports, ID cards and other government issued credentials. Matt has worked in the security printing industry for over 20 years in a variety of technical and new product development roles.