What is a corporate identity? It’s made up of all the visuals that contribute to the messages conveyed by your brand.
It includes things like logo, brand colours, office or shop décor, uniforms or colours worn by team members, company vehicles, business cards, stationery, brochures, the visual appearance of free gifts, book covers, product packaging, website and social media aesthetics, and any other visual element you can think of.
Each piece of a corporate identity sends a message, and is part of the mix that keeps ideal customers interested and engaged…or contributes to their looking for a better solution.
What is your corporate identity saying about your brand? Is it delivering a consistent message across all brand heartbeats? Or are there inconsistencies contributing to a muddled message? Or worse, a complete absence of corporate identity, with no common thread running through visual elements?
Even if you feel fairly certain that your corporate identity is a clear representative of everything your brand stands for, without gaps in that message, it can be helpful to check its consistency on a regular basis—to ensure that your audience is forming the right perceptions.
The History of Corporate Identity
You might assume that corporate identity is a new concept—something that became mainstream along with highly capable graphic design platforms. To the contrary, it was born alongside the industrial revolution of the 1960s.
Corporations were being born at a rate unlike any so far in history, and a method was needed for differentiating them from one another. And so, it wasn't just the corporate identity that got its start with custom designs that could be accurately replicated; the idea of brand positioning in the market was born, too. With more competition came the need for each business to set itself apart from the rest, and corporate identities worked to help make that happen.
These new corporate identities worked to communicate brand messages to consumers and to make each brand more memorable and distinctive. And so, the practice stuck. The corporate identity was here to stay, and since industry was continuing to grow, no business was going to be exempt from needing one.
A Corporate Identity Check List
It can be difficult to know when perceptions about your brand are being negatively affected. Often, you won’t know until your competition sprints ahead or your loyal customers start to question your brand.
Instead of waiting until damage is done, use this check list on a regular basis to test the consistency of your corporate identity:
- Logo: Has your logo been created with the help of a brand design expert, who understands the importance of choosing the right colours, shapes, lines and fonts? Because each one sends a specific message about your brand’s mission, vision and values? This is crucial, because consumers will adopt impressions about your brand, whether they realise it or not.
- Brand Colours: Wow! I can’t tell you how crucial this is to pulling a corporate brand identity together. Every colour, and every shade of every colour, sends a distinct message to viewers. What’s more, those colours’ meanings change as cultural boundaries are crossed…meaning that if your brand is going global (or simply expanding into a different geographical area), colours must be assessed for any possible message-muddling. If you’d like to learn more about colour psychology, click here and we’ll point you in the right direction.
- Clothing: If your staff wears uniforms, are they representative of your brand’s values? Are they smart, or fun or carefree? And even if your brand doesn’t require uniforms, are you and key team members wearing your brand colours (or at least a touch of your primary brand colour)? Do this on a regular basis, and people will begin to think of you every time they see your brand colour. That’s top-of-mind awareness!
- Vehicles: If business provides service or sales vehicles to its employees, ask yourself if those vehicles are properly representing your brand. Colour is important, as are graphics. Your logo is a must, as well as contact information. The overall design should scream YOUR BRAND, so consumers know who the van belongs to, even without having to read too much information. Car wraps are great ways to broadcast your corporate identity, even if applied to your personal vehicle.
- Décor: Is the style of your shop or office consistent with, and supportive of, your corporate identity? When customers walk into your physical location, there should be no doubt who owns the space. Think about colours and other visuals; however, don’t discount other senses, too. Use music and fragrance that support your corporate identity
- Business Cards and Stationery: These should not only display your corporate identity, they should be so unique that throwing them in the dustbin proves difficult for recipients. Utilise your brand’s logo and colours, and again, think about other senses. Should your business cards smell like your brand scent or your most popular product? Should your stationery be folded in a unique way? Should your business cards have a texture that is exceptional? Think of all the ways your corporate identity and your brand are unique and demonstrate that distinctiveness at every turn.
- Online Places: Your website, as well as every social media page, should be just as branded as your business cards and your storefront sign. Aim to create an experience that closely coordinates with your real-world customer journey.
- Product Packaging: How does your product packaging further your brand message? Something that simply tells consumers the name of the product isn’t enough. All packaging should be bespoke and readily identifiable with your brand.
- Free Gifts: Are the pens, t-shirts, hats and other free gifts you’re handing out completely representative of your corporate brand? Have you invested thought into making them something that people will want to hold onto, so that they absorb your brand colours, your logo, your brand name…on a daily basis? Free gifts are more than gifts—they are reminders of your brand, so that it will remain top-of-mind and ready to recommend to friends, colleagues and strangers. Bling them out with your corporate identity, and they’ll be even more effective.
Every time a brand heartbeat is felt by your target audience, perceptions are either strengthened or proven wrong. How are the elements of your corporate identity working for your brand? If you’re concerned, or you’re not sure how to decide on their effectiveness, then you need the Master Your Message™ event, where you’ll spend three days in small groups creating your corporate message, testing it on live subjects, and then learning how to clearly communicate that message. Learn more and enrol here.