Corporate identity. When combined, these two words seem so intimidating especially if you're an owner of a startup or even an established small or medium-sized enterprise. But really, there's nothing to fear and everything to gain. Today, we're going to learn what corporate identity means and how it is significant to your business. We're also going to discuss the best approach on how to build a more robust corporate identity with the help of effective branding.
So what exactly is corporate identity? At its most basic, corporate identity is associated with anything that is palpable and anything that can be seen by a company's customers, its employees, and its competitors. These elements include the company's logo, colours, typography, and symbols. A company's furniture, products, buildings, design, and more are also part of its corporate identity. But corporate identity can also go beyond the visuals and what the customers can perceive. It can also be the organisation's internal structure (whether centralised or decentralised), as well as how it is divided (if the company is large enough to allow divisions or departments).
The Benefits of Establishing a Solid Corporate Identity for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
At first, it might seem that corporate identity is the domain of large and established companies. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, startups and small and medium-sized enterprises can benefit from building their corporate identity. Some of the benefits for startups and small businesses include:
- A cohesive corporate identity makes the company more recognizable to customers, and helps leave more of a lasting impression. It gives them an idea of what you offer—whether it is a product or a service. Good visuals can also help foster customer loyalty.
- A good visual identity can foster employee loyalty.
- Your visual identity can distinguish your company, as well as your products, services, and prices from your competitors. It can catapult your company from anonymous to famous, as well as boost your reputation and hopefully, your profit.
- Your symbols, logos, and other elements of your corporate identity are visual signals to your suppliers and prospective employees.
Five Tips for Building a Stronger Corporate Identity
#1 Know thyself, said the ancient Greeks. But this maxim is not limited to the individual. It can also be a good starting point in your quest for branding and building your corporate identity. This is a good time to delve into your company's history (if the company has been around for many years) and look into why it was founded in the first place. If you lead a small or medium-sized enterprise, some of the questions you might want to ask yourself and your staff during this "journey to self-discovery" might include:
- What is our company's short-term and long-term goals? Is it to provide the best product or service to customers within an affordable price range? Is beating out your competitors your ultimate goal? Are you committed to quality and innovation at the same time and want to ensure that these values are evident in your products or service?
- What are my company's strengths and weaknesses? How can I convert my company's weak points into strengths?
- Who are my competitors? What do they offer that my company doesn't? How will I be able to turn threats into opportunities?
- What is my company's reputation when it comes to the quality of products and services? How does the price of goods and services and the attitude of my workers affect public perception?
Understanding your company's history and motivations, identifying your strengths and weak points, and answering some of the questions mentioned above can help you develop a stronger, more cohesive corporate identity. After conducting interviews with your employees, analyse what sets you apart from the competition and take it from there.
One of the best examples of a company that has successfully used its history when branding and crafting a unique corporate identity is the Greek-style yogurt brand Chobani. There are a lot of Greek-style yogurt brands out there and many of them are just as delicious, but Chobani has consistently remained number one. One factor that made its branding and corporate identity stand out is its history. Its founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, is not shy in admitting that the company's humble beginnings and that the name of the company itself is a nod to his family's roots as shepherds in his native Turkey.
#2 Tell your company's story. After going back to your roots, as well as auditing and analysing your company's goals, strengths, weaknesses, and competitors, it's time to tell your story. Highlight your company's origins and focus on what sets your product apart from your competitors. Your history and what makes you unique are parts of your corporate identity, so these can also play a large part in your marketing strategy and can set the tone for all your external or internal communications.
#3 Create your company's mission statement. Many business owners think that mission statements are only reserved for when their enterprise has grown. But a mission statement is necessary even when the business is still in its infancy and is essential when crafting a robust corporate identity. If you're the owner of a small business, take a page off the book of a larger company when it comes crafting your own mission statement.
#4 Start working on your company's visual identity. With the help of a design team, incorporate the essence of your company (its history, its ultimate goals, and what makes it unique) to your visual identity. Your visual identity includes the logo, typography, colors, and the tone of your business communications. These elements can change over time and can be tweaked and fine-tuned until you find something that is effective.
#5 Record everything in a style guide. During the process of building your corporate identity, make sure that you document everything in a style guide. This includes your preferred fonts and corresponding sizes, specific colour palettes, layout, and more. The style guide is there to ensure that your designers—whether in-house or done by an advertising agency—will maintain cohesion across all platforms.
About the Author
Daniel Lummis, Senior Marketing Consultant at Bladon WA - Daniel has been working in the marketing industry for over five years. Daniel's key areas of expertise are helping businesses create an online brand presence. Bladon WA is a corporate branded products supplier based in Perth Western Australia. Amongst other services, Bladon WA helps clients improve their brand presence through promotional branded merchandise and branded work wear.