A detailed investigation of the photophysical properties of a series of perylenediimide systems bearing three different types of bay substituents is presented. Single photon timing and femtosecond transient absorption experiments reveal that the dynamics of interconversion between two conformational arrangements of these substituents occurs with a time constant of 550 ps. In addition, charge transfer from the electron-rich units attached to the bay area of the electron-poor perylenediimide core is observed. This process leads to a fast non-radiative deactivation of the locally excited state of the perylenediimide in polar solvents. When the experimental results of the investigated systems are compared we observe a shift from a conformational dynamics towards competitive excited state processes involving charge transfer in the -meta and -para substituted perylenediimide chromophore.