Asking the internet for a definition usually gives you a lot of surface-level waffle.
While sites like Wikipedia offer an informative answer for corporate identity, it’s important to dive deeper and really get to know it.
They explain it as: “The manner in which a corporation, firm or business enterprise presents itself to the public. The corporate identity is typically visualized by branding and with the use of trademarks.”
This is an okay explanation, but it’s not much use for those who want to know how to build a powerful corporate image around their business.
So what actually is it, and what does it do?
What is Corporate Identity Design?
At its core, corporate identity, or corporate image, is about creating a consistent and recognisable image for an organisation.
It involves the strategic use of various elements, such as logos, colour schemes, typography and messaging, to convey a specific identity that resonates with the target audience.
The corporate identity created should reflect the company’s values, mission, and culture.
Visuals play a huge part in this.
Iconic logos like Apple and Nike have become synonymous with their brands, and have made anything associated with them instantly recognisable.
So, while it does include visual elements like branding and trademarks, it extends to product design, advertising, public relations, and more.
But corporate identities are so much more than just looking the part.
All the Gear, No Idea
A well-perceived corporate identity is more than the sum of its parts.
It has those all-important elements like logos, branding, and staff uniforms but these alone do not guarantee a fully functioning corporate image.
The quality of this identity becomes even more apparent when thinking about its role in public relations:
How people see and interact with an organisation.
- Are you managing your image?
- Can you maintain a good reputation?
- Do you demonstrate ethics, social responsibility and transparency?
- Is your corporate identity consistent within all external communities?
Consistency is Key
Don’t cop out and let the “creative licence” creep in.
Keeping messages consistent across all outlets, from signage to business cards, can be a pain yes, but it’s worth it.
The key is not just having a corporate identity guide but actively using it every day to make sure everyone involved knows what to do with it.
Many corporate identity guidelines are created initially but end up on a shelf gathering dust. Make sure you use it!
It makes sure every. single. interaction. someone has with your brand, from a social media post, a product or customer services, reinforces the same message and core values.
Every member of your team, from designers to marketers, should be well acquainted with the brand identity guidelines and know them like the back of their hands.
People like dealing with something familiar, that they trust, so help them build that relationship with your business.
Do You Have a Corporate Identity Guideline?
Now, let’s apply this new knowledge to your business and brand.
Do you have a guideline? Is It being used by everyone correctly?
Creating a corporate identity guide is just the beginning.
Here’s how you can use a valuable asset (not a dusty booklet) as a living, breathing part of your brand:
1. Education and Training
Make sure executives and new hires understand the importance of the guide.
Conduct regular training sessions to familiarise employees with the guidelines and how to apply them in their work.
2. Consistency Checks:
Frequently check that all internal and external communications adhere to the corporate guidelines.
This includes everything from marketing materials and media to uniforms and office signage.
3. Feedback and Updates:
The guide should evolve as your brand grows and changes.
Encourage feedback from employees and customers to identify areas where things could be improved.
Be proactive in making necessary changes to keep your brand relevant.
4. Internal Management:
Foster a sense of community and pride among your employees about the corporate identity.
When your team understands the importance of consistency, they become your advocates, helping maintain brand integrity.
The Proof is Out There
If asked to name some great brands the usual suspects would include Apple, Nike, Mcdonald’s, Coca-Cola, etc.
You just have to walk down your local high street to see it.
As recognisable as their logos are each and every one of them is truly remembered because they mean something to their customers:
That has a level of engagement way beyond the superficial.
Every one of these businesses has fit their corporate identity into even the smallest parts of it.
From products to marketing campaigns to customer interactions and employee culture, it’s everywhere.
Corporate identity isn’t just about having a nice logo; it’s about creating something that profoundly impacts your audience.
The Road to a Strong Corporate Identity Starts From Within
Corporate identity is much more than aesthetics, so move beyond the definitions and embrace the concept.
Take the time to sit back and think about what you want to be in the business sphere, and go from there.
Crafting something that truly resonates with audiences takes the blood, sweat and tears, but the rewards of brand recognition and loyalty are worth it.
My title at Toast is Brand Strategy, but what I do is a lot simpler – I help people solve problems. Sometimes I have to identify that problem, sometimes they know already and want me to just come up with the solution and help them apply it.