When setting up a business or a startup, one has to resist the temptation of seeing oneself as a demiurge. The first thing to do if you’re a very young business shark is to try to see the work that you’re doing from the perspective of your potential customers since they’re the ones that need to be impressed and charmed. Why should they trust you and invest in your product or service? What is it that you offer that makes you stand out among hundreds and thousands of other similar companies? How can they tell that the quality of your product or service is high if they don’t know a thing about you? That’s exactly the point when your corporate identity comes into play.
What is a corporate identity?
Corporate identity includes a set of brand attributes that help to distinguish your business and product from others. Corporate design and its elements – logos, color schemes, name, slogan, typography, etc. – are included, but corporate identity is something bigger. It shows how your brand wants to be seen and how it presents itself on the market, what business identity it channels, and how it perceives itself as a company. Corporate identity is bigger than a corporate image or corporate design. It can’t be positive or negative like an image and it can’t be quickly changed or altered. It can be compared to a person’s identity – how we see someone, what impression they make, and how they make us feel. The corporate identity aims to show people a “summary” of the brand and the company, and do it in a way that will make people feel involved.
Whether you are thinking about starting a small startup or a huge enterprise, you have to remember that corporate identity is the key to creating a competitive and successful company. It’s easier to get people on your side and build meaningful business relationships when you know who you are and what you represent. Corporate identity helps to convey your values, mission, and your character to the public and let them know how to approach your product or services and what to make of it. In brief, corporate identity is the essence and the core of your company that you show to the world.
If you want to create a strong brand identity, you have to keep in mind that it’s not something that can happen in the short-term: it’s a process that requires your full attention and commitment. You’ll need a dedicated team that understands the importance of brand identity and corporate image and which can work on creating a comprehensive company branding rather than focusing on its separate elements.
Speaking of elements. Before you embark upon a crusade to develop your corporate identity, you need to be familiar with some corporate identity basics.
Corporate identity elements
Corporate identity elements include not only a fancy logo and a catchy name. It’s not merely a visual language of your brand either – it’s a comprehensive system of communicating your brand values to the people, and it includes a lot of different elements. This system has to be built in a way that makes it organic and applicable to everything: from your website design to your marketing materials.
Contrary to a popular belief, the first thing that needs to be transmitted visually is not a logo or a color scheme. It’s your purpose, vision, and mission that you carry with your brand. People would like to engage with companies that have similar values and who meet their “reputational requirements.” A company’s culture is embedded in its corporate identity and it shines through everything you do and present to the public.
On that note, the most evident part of the corporate identity package that comes to mind when you think about a company is its design. It includes everything we see when we look at the product or get acquainted with the company. Initially, we associate the brand with its corporate design and its elements, that include:
- Logo – visual symbol of your business, something that will be used with everything you create, an image that people will associate with your brand immediately.
- Website – building a company without having an informative and captivating website is impossible nowadays, as it serves as the informational hub for potential customers where they can see what you represent and what you offer.
- Typography – everything from the fonts that you use in the texts on your website to the typefaces that appear on your products.
- Color palette – it may not be as noticeable as a logo or a font, but it adds to the overall feel of your brand, helps to set it apart from others even if only in a subtle way.
- Illustration and graphics – visual language can’t be complete without adding data visualization elements and illustrations since they ensure more fun and engaging experience.
- Packaging and presentation design – various marketing and presentation materials that are used to further your brand and your products and services in a way that is aligned with your brand image.
Along with all of the above, your corporate identity extends far beyond the digital world – everything you create in the name of your brand has to represent your business in a comprehensive and coordinated way.
Brand image vs. brand identity vs. corporate identity
We’ve been using such terms as brand identity, brand image, and corporate identity interchangeably quite frivolously. However, there are several differences between them that are important to consider.
The most crucial difference between brand image and brand and corporate identity is that brand image has more to do with how the customers see your brand through their own actual experience with it rather than through how you represent it. Developing a brand image requires an active interaction between the client and the company, unlike corporate or brand identity. Thus, the brand image includes not only the visual experience of engaging with your company but also associations that go with it.
Corporate identity and brand identity, in their turn, are different mainly through the level of involvement it takes to create them. Both require having efficient marketing and design teams, but in order to develop a corporate identity, there have to be some decisions made by high-level management. The officials will have the final word on how the corporate identity is implemented and how it should move forward.
Another thing that distinguishes the brand identity is that it can be “programmed”, unlike brand image. You can set up the parameters that you wish to strengthen or focus on elements that you would like your customers to pay specific attention to. Brand image and brand identity are closely intertwined. Your brand identity has to be strong so that your brand image is consistently positive. A positive brand image boosts your reputation, and being respected in the market means more trust in your products and services.
Corporate identity is more complex, as it can sometimes include several brand identities if your business is large and presents a wide range of products and solutions. Corporate identity is harder to ruin, but once it’s hurt, the damage can be irreparable because it encompasses every element of your enterprise and “feeds” the brand image. That’s why it’s extremely important that you do everything possible to align your brand image with your brand and corporate identity. Only that way you can be sure that your corporate identity is strong and prompts only positive associations about the quality and status of your company.
Why your business needs corporate identity
If you haven’t asked yourself before why you even need a corporate identity, then maybe you never felt the need to make yourself heard. However, if you want to succeed in the competitive environment, having a clear identity is a must. If you have a company set up, then you already have a corporate identity without knowing about it. It might not be working in your favor, might be weak and not helpful, but it’s there. However, if you want to move your business further, you have to make well-informed decisions on how to improve the way you’re seen as a brand and develop your brand attributes to be more appealing and attractive to potential customers.
When you think about a successful brand, what exactly comes to mind? Generally, what makes a good brand? Is it solely the quality of the product? A strong marketing strategy? Or a good relationship with the customers? Without a doubt, all those things are pivotal, but they are not something that potential clients see first when they engage with your business. Regardless of whether you have a big enterprise or a small emerging startup, you have to make sure that the values and culture that you transmit to the public are powerful and well-meaning. Corporate identity is the “face” of everything you do and its strength is extremely important for your company’s future.
A corporate identity will help with the following:
- Helps you to be equipped with tools and features that will make you stand out among other businesses and establish a solid foundation of your brand;
- Sends a clear and right message about who you are and what you represent, so that the customers with similar views would feel understood and connected to you;
- Serves as a ground for the future or current marketing strategy that promotes the brand and attracts new clients and buyers;
- Provides a sense of community and a specific “philosophy”: both for your potential customers and your employees;
- Ensures that your representation on the market is consistent and coherent, increasing the level of trust and credibility from the customers and making you more recognizable and respectable in the field;
- Enhances your communication with the customers and investors by making them know what you stand for, thus paving the way to a fruitful and effective interaction.
If you want to build a brand that targets a particular audience and has a clear and memorable representation of its values, you have to be prepared that it’s going to take some time and effort. However, once it’s done, the reputation of your company will speak for itself.
How to create your corporate identity
Knowing that corporate identity is important and worth investing in isn’t enough – you have to take certain steps to guarantee that it’s implemented and developed properly. Good news – you already have a brand identity, bad news – there’s a chance you’ve been undervaluing its role in promoting your agenda. So, if you’re only planning to open your own business, pay close attention to corporate identity and its advantages. It’s way easier to create corporate identity from scratch than to fix mistakes that can hinder your business performance.
How to build a brand identity? There are a few steps to do it:
- Carry out a thorough market search.
You can’t develop a brand identity that doesn’t align with your potential customers’ needs and views or doesn’t transmit your values clearly and transparently. Before starting to build your corporate identity, you have to know your foundation and how you can fit it within the whole market.
- Create basic visual elements of your brand identity.
The first and most obvious thing to do is to design the logo, decide on the basic color scheme and templates for communication with the customers. The main thing during this step is to remain consistent so that your brand is coherent and trustworthy.
- Develop your visual language.
Visual language is very much needed for converting all the visual elements into content seamlessly. Consistent and steady brand language ensures the creation of appealing and entertaining content of high quality that would attract more customers.
- Regularly analyze possible changes in your brand.
If there’s a significant shift in the way your company develops or if you’re thinking about refreshing your brand image, your brand identity should reflect all those changes.
Ester Digital provides branding services to help our business clients with the clear brand vision and implementation of their brand values. We focus on making you distinct and original while making sure that your brand is fully apt for possible changes and alterations.
We apply a personalized approach, that’s why we always start with brand positioning – evaluating your advantages and pain points, making sure we cover all of them, and establishing a clear idea of how you want to enter or re-enter the market. After that, we define your brand attributes and work on creating tools that can describe the intrinsic and extrinsic qualities of your brand. Regardless of the media we work in – website design, general art direction, brand strategy and planning, custom illustrations, and marketing materials – we always make sure that we deliver only the best possible visual representation of your values and products.
For example, the brand identity we created for Parkbench includes clear and unforgettable visual language that reflects the company’s mission to support local businesses and initiatives, highlighting the importance of community spirit and amiability. Our work on Trans Nordic Tours brand identity covers brand guidelines that serve as a foundation for the overall digital representation of the brand. When creating a corporate identity for Docketwise, we relied on custom-made illustrations and a variety of logo options that contribute to brand recognition and expand the possibilities for fruitful communication across various channels.
On a final note
Our team at Ester Digital focuses on creating a “face” of the brand we’re working with rather than developing separate elements. We want to tell your brand story as clearly and as excitingly as possible so that your customers wouldn’t be able to resist listening to it. Every business aims to be original and authentic, totally recognizable yet different from others. Corporate identity helps to fit the brand into the global marketing landscape while targeting and highlighting points that make it unique.
Here we’ve shared our experience of working with corporate identity and provided a few interesting insights that we’ve accumulated over the past years. If we managed to get you hooked on the idea of developing your own brand or corporate identity – contact us, we will do our best to help you with making your brand voice bright and clear.