We spend most of our lives trying to figure out who we are, who we want to be and our sole purpose in life. The same goes for small, mid-sized businesses and even large corporations. Successful businesses are those that embody a strong and recognizable identity. Is your business or company one of them?
When talking about corporate identity, the simplest way to understand the concept is by comparing it to everyday human interactions. As human beings, we have a natural tendency of assessing the people around us by their appearance, actions, personalities and more. We do this so we can figure out the unique self-identities of those around us. Just as we do with other people, we do the same thing with corporations. For this reason. corporations are given names, personalities, and distinct communication patterns. It’s all an attempt to humanize the public image of these companies so that they can positively shape the perception of their target audience.
Defining Corporate Identity
Corporate identity is all the actions a company partakes in so that its intended audience can perceive them in a positive light. A strong identity can be obtained through three elements: corporate design, corporate communication, and corporate behavior. Let’s dive a little deeper into what each one of these elements really means.
1) Corporate Design: These are the brand assets that are unique to your company and make you stand out from the competition such as your company name, logo, slogan, color palette, typography and more. As a tip, one of the best ways to preserve your corporate identity is by creating a brand guide that includes all these formats inside one place. This ensures that all your employees, old and new, can create content that directly aligns with your corporate design.
2) Corporate Communication: This is how a business spreads information to its employees, investors, stakeholders, and consumers. Things like public relations, internal communications, and reputation management all fall under this category. Many large companies even have a designated team just to handle their corporate communication responsibilities. After all, the way in which you express yourself to other people is a key factor as to how you are perceived.
3) Corporate Behavior: This is the essence of your company; it’s how you present your brand to the community at large. This is where things like values, brand promise, and philosophy come into play. Many prominent brands achieve this through corporate social responsibility programs such as partnering with nonprofits and charities.
How to Establish Brand Identity
In order to achieve a strong brand identity, you need to make sure that your target audience sees you in the way you wish to be seen. Now that you understand the components that make up corporate identity, Here are some helpful tips on how you can strengthen your company’s public perception.
- Work from the inside-out
Employees are the backbone of a good company. They are the ones who directly work and communicate with clients and run your daily operations. Therefore, they have the largest impact on your company’s self-image. Make sure that all your employees are aware of your company’s philosophy and values. Aside from making them aware, you should also make sure that they are practicing them on a daily basis. As a good rule of thumb, you should assign an employee who is a primary example of your corporate identity to onboard your new hires or create a team around that thought process.
- Be flexible
The world around us is constantly changing, so why shouldn’t your company mentality? Just because you have a strong corporate identity that is working for your company right now, doesn’t mean it’s going to continue working for you down the line. Don’t be afraid to adapt!
- Assess Your Competition
It’s always a smart idea to assess your competition and identify their strong points. You should try your best not to copy them, but there may be some areas that they are excelling at better than you. You should then implement it within your own corporate identity. For example, is the Twitter account of your rival company doing a really good job at reputation management? If yours isn’t – or if you don’t even have a Twitter presence – then you may want to consider strengthening your corporate communication team so you can keep up.
- Maintain Your Social Media Presence
Often, before someone even visits your website, they’re introduced to your company through one of your social media accounts. The way in which you portray your company on social media can severely impact public perception. If you’re trying to successfully target the consumers of today’s tech-savvy world, then being on social media is essential. Studies have found that if you consistently present your content on social media using the same corporate design, it can increase revenue by up to 23%. This means you want your company colors, fonts, and logo to look the same on every platform. Consider having a designated Social Media Manager, especially if you’re a large company. This way, you can ensure that the activity on all your accounts directly aligns with your corporate identity and/or design.
- Create Custom Templates
Did you know that consumers are 80% more likely to identify you if you’re consistent with the colors on your branded material? How you showcase your work to clients and prospects is extremely important. Everything you present them can be directly linked to your corporate identity. If you haven’t done so already, do what we do here at Vonazon, create custom templates for your documents, PowerPoint slides, invoices, manuals, and more. This way, everything produced under your company name will have the same font styles, colors, and design. The key is to create one uniform theme throughout your entire company.
Now you may be wondering if corporate identity and brand identity are the same things. A lot of people tend to confuse the two. Even though they overlap, they are not the same thing. The big difference between the two is that brand identity distinguishes your product or service from other businesses that have similar products or services. It’s what makes your offerings seem better than the offerings of your competition. If done correctly, brand identity can lead to brand loyalty which is why you have so many consumers who prefer Coca-Cola over Pepsi – when they are similar sodas at the end of the day. However, corporate identity refers to the perception of your entire company, not just one product or service that your offer. One business can have multiple brand identities under one overarching corporate identity. Think of corporate identity as an umbrella, and brand identity as the person or people under the umbrella.
Examples of Corporate Identity
If you’re still a bit lost when it comes to strengthening your corporate identity, here are some popular companies that have done a really good job at curating theirs.
1) Airbnb: Their corporate identity is known for promoting an active and adventurous lifestyle. Their designs feature a lot of people-heavy type imagery, and their logo is a bold, bright pink. Their entire company comes across as daring and encourages people to live life to their fullest. They have become masters at invoking a feeling from their intended audience. Keep in mind that they only offer a place to stay but their identity extends the imagination.
2) Chobani: They’ve become experts at uniformity across all channels. Their packaging uses their signature green color, which carries their natural, non-GMO, and health-conscious messaging. Their Instagram account is also packed with photos of colorful fruit and has tons of personality. They’re a good example of a company that has carefully curated its social media presence.
3) Southwest Airlines: After receiving some backlash in 2020 for not offering proper social distancing measures, Southwest Airlines decided it was time for a change. After witnessing the rebranding efforts of Virgin Airlines, they too decided it was time to spice things up. They changed up their color scheme in an attempt to come across as welcoming and warm. By doing so, they perfected the act of assessing their competition and acting accordingly.
4) Apple: We’re all familiar with Apple’s corporate identity and how they have mastered the ability to come across as trendsetters and innovators. Their minimalist, sleek packaging, inspiring ads, and corporate communication team do an amazing job of creating strong emotional connections with their consumers. They have become experts at making their consumers feel special. Just think about how many people use an iPhone. A recent study found that an estimated one billion people worldwide use an iPhone. Yet, Apple has somehow managed to make each one of these people feel special for having one.
Successful businesses are those that embody a strong and recognizable identity. It’s so easy for your company to get lost in the crowd, especially if you’re a small operation. However, it’s important to not let the word “corporate” in corporate identity fool you. Every company, big or small, needs an identity. What makes yours special from the rest?