What is a Corporate Identity?
Branding and Corporate Identity (CI) are terms you hear bandied about a lot, but what exactly do they mean? Basically, they refer to the image or persona that an organisation wants to portray to the world. Your brand or logo is a very important component of how you are perceived, but CI is really the face and reputation that you want to present to the world. Whilst they need to blend together, CI covers more than just the logo. It does not mean though that everything you have on show in your office or workshop needs to have your logo on it. You may choose a different colour scheme for your lobby next time you redecorate, perhaps though: a pale blue identity probably wouldn’t sit well with a bright red reception desk, for instance.
How does this affect me?
Corporate Identity/branding is something every business needs to think about, whether large or small. Making sure that you have a consistent and memorable brand is increasingly important in today’s business culture – your identity is the first point of contact between you and your customers and it defines your integrity. Just think how many times a day you use your phone to surf the net – and how frustrated you get when the site doesn’t work or takes an age to load? Or how you feel when a customer complains about bad customer service they have received from your staff? Or when someone hands you a screwed up leaflet to promote their business that is in a different style to the business card they gave you at the same time? These are all examples of reputation damage; potential customers might think “if they aren’t worried about that, what else aren’t they worried about?”
Where do I go from here?
If you’re finding the thought of this all a bit overwhelming, don’t worry you’re not alone! Most businesses need at least a mobile phone friendly website, letterhead/email template and business cards, so if you haven’t got them, it probably is something you should at least start thinking about. Although you will need to invest a little, with careful planning and the right design partner and printer, you can make your budget go further than you might think – and should bring you a return on your investment.
Thinking out loud with someone you trust is a good first step. Most agencies are happy to meet for a chat to see where you’re at and if they can help. Not all agencies suit all clients, so this is a good way to see if you think you can work together. It helps everyone if you have a bit of an idea of the image you want to portray, what you think you need, what you don’t like and when you want it all by. Of course, you also need to have an idea of how much you are willing to spend; remember, digital print makes smaller print runs economically viable and not everyone needs a content management system (CMS) website. We’ll be blogging about budgets and the different types of website soon, so come back for some more pointers.
An extreme example of managers not keeping an eye on how their identity was represented: Facebook
About a month ago, we posted this Ben Barry blogpost on our Facebook page. We thought you might like to read it here because it’s a good example:
“Facebook’s own internal (salaried) team didn’t keep an eye on how their logo, branding and other icons were being used and doctored during a time of furious exponential growth.”
This article shows a fantastic (and quite extreme) example of how much work is involved to bring everything back into line if you don’t keep those checks as you go along. Brand guidelines are issued for a reason! Thankfully, few companies would have such a large net to reel in…
Be warned, this is a long methodical case study, but it does have lots of illustrations and is well worth a read if you run a company of any size.