The making of... Total Design

Meeting in 1963. Dick Schwarz, Friso Kramer, Benno Wissing, Ben Bos, Paul Schwarz, Wim Crouwel. Photo: Jan Versnel

Total Identity has its origin in 1963 in the founding of the renowned Total Design; an initiative of ambitious designers who wanted to redesign Dutch design. Today Friso Kramer, Benno Wissing, Wim Crouwel and the Schwarz brothers as founders are still famous. Kindred spirits alike they had a multidisciplinary approach to professionalize the fundamentals of the design discipline. It made them pioneers who had to invent and create integrated design programs all by themselves. This ingenuity is part of our heritage and is very much alive, but we have outgrown pioneering. Four decennia later our agency is as renowned as our predecessor and is now the leading firm in identity matters. The integral approach however has broadened: we see corporate identity as a fusion of symbolism, communication and behavior. There is no other Dutch agency that can keep up with our commitment to managing and directing all the aspect of identity.

Why we do what we do: the success of our clients

Total Identity helps companies to expand their potential to establish self-consciousness as a base for continuity and success. We want to make companies aware of whom they want to be, what it is they want and show them how to express themselves in interaction with their surroundings. By establishing this collective ambition and by optimizing communicative skills a company can direct and manage its own corporate identity.

This mission is highly ambitious and calls for an agency that has the manpower and scale to oversee all aspects of corporate identity, an absolute requirement in today’s markets. In recent years corporate identity has become a major strategic management issue. More and more companies are aware of the necessity to handle this issue in a professional and qualitative manner.

Towards integrated scenarios

In the year 2000 we have made an important change in our development by adding communication to our design expertise. Integrated design developed into integrated identity scenarios. This broadening of disciplines coincided with changing our name from Total Design to Total Identity. This resulted in a new ambitious mission, one that emphasizes working together: with clients as well as with colleagues.

A top 15 position

Our agency has become one of the fifteen leading identity agencies in Europe and is capable of handling international projects such as recently for the Korean companies of Hyundai and Hanaro and for the Olympic candidacy of Leipzig. In the Netherlands we work for renowned companies like ING, KLM, BAM and Fortis. Our people are eager to work for market leaders or companies with the ambition to be the best. However, this in no way diminishes our dedication towards smaller organizations, government authorities or non-profit organizations that fit that profile.


Total Identity is one of the few independent agencies in the Netherlands with around 110 employees. This allows us to focus on the trade itself, is a source of inspiration. Of course achieving financial results is important as well. A solid healthy financial base is a necessity for growth and trade development. We work hard to gear our organization to these goals and try to balance costs and benefits, something we aim for in our work with clients. Every project is based on clear, measurable agreements. The main focus in our approach is the development of scenarios that will lead to a process of continuous readjustment of the desired identity. The content of these scenarios comes from four disciplines: design, publishing, communication and identity management.

ICT and corporate identity

ICT and communication are closely connected and seem to grow closer with each technological development. This also applies for target group communication. ICT-based organizations are better capable of maintaining a one on one relation with their target groups and to communicate through channels they prefer at any time. This than also applies to applications that facilitate the implementation and management of corporate identity. Our application i-Base is daily proof of this. With joint venture partner Total Active Media we are certain of being in touch with the newest developments, of being able to help our clients better with proven technological solutions.

Despite our extensive knowledge we do not have the intention to continue on our own, since our scope is too widespread and our disciplines are too specialized. This is why we’re building a network of specialized companies with whom we can work together closely.

...And beyond

Total Identity is still evolving. To stand out in our trade we have to innovate constantly. Strengthening our international ties, investing in our people and technology…it shows our resilience and capability to innovate and stay ahead. It is our belief in strength and competence that allows us to look at the future with confidence.

To find out more about The making of... Total Design, please contact us directly 

Bob van der Lee

Managing director, Total Identity
T +31 20 750 95 58