The corporate identity is one of the cornerstones of any company. It distills and condenses your company’s ideals, philosophies, and culture into simple terms that both sets the company apart from competing businesses and allows the company to be easily recognisable by its audience. As such, it is important, much more so for budding startups and businesses, to develop a corporate identity that resonates well within and outside of the company.
As a new entrepreneur, you might be put off by the idea of building a “corporate identity”. However, you should know that the word “corporate” in this case doesn’t refer to suits, ties, cubicles, and board meetings. A corporate identity covers more than just the visuals of the company. Besides the company logos, colour palettes, typography, motifs, and utilisation of these in your marketing materials.
Corporate identity includes some of the more internal aspects of your company such as your company’s vision, philosophy, values, priorities, the atmosphere of your workplace, and much more. Because of this, corporate identity is separate from brand identity, as the internal aspects of the corporate identity also applies to the sub-brand.
So, if you happen to be starting a new business, how would you go about building your corporate identity? In this article, we will guide you through 5 steps that can help you achieve this end.
1. Look back on your company’s past
To establish the identity of your company, you must first establish a solid history. Ask yourself questions like “Why did you start your company?”, “What did you want to achieve with your company?”, and “How did you want your company to grow?” In general, try to look back and remember why you started your company in the first place; your original aspirations for your company will form a strong foundation upon which you can build your corporate identity.
2. Look at your company’s present
Once you have your foundation, you should now look at where your company stands today. Besides looking at your current branding and visual design, also take some time to examine the less tangible aspects of your company’s operations, like the moods of your employees and the general atmosphere of your workplace. Also take note of what other people think about your company – not only from your customers or clients, but also from your employees. Take the time to observe their comments about your products or your marketing schemes, either by holding open forum meetings or setting up company suggestion boxes. More often than not, they may be able to offer some valuable insights into what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong.
3. Look at other companies
Remember that a strong corporate identity is both recognisable and unique. To achieve uniqueness, then, you should differentiate your corporate identity from those of other businesses. Do your research. Look at other businesses in your industry and take note of how they present themselves, then take what you’ve learned from your research and add this to your knowledge base. This will become useful in the fifth step.
4. Look towards your company’s future
Since you already know why you started your company in the first place, you should by now have a good idea of what you want your company to be. In envisioning your company’s future, don’t just picture it with wide strokes; you should try as much as possible to figure out all of the details. Let’s say you’re imagining your company’s status in eight years. How large do you think your company will be? How many employees do you think you will have by then? How large will your customer or user base be? Try to answer these questions while still keeping in line with the original company vision and philosophy of your company.
5. Build your company’s corporate identity
Now that you’ve figured out the past, present, and future of your company, it is now time to build your corporate identity. Synthesise all of the knowledge you’ve gathered and try to find connections and patterns in your knowledge base. You will probably find patterns relating to some of the positive or unique aspects of your company, or a trend that deviates from your original vision for your company. Try to keep this in mind as you build each of the facets of your corporate identity:
The company is so much more than what people see on the outside. In fact, everything customers and clients see on the outside – aesthetics, marketing materials, and the quality of the company’s products or services – are a reflection of what goes on inside the company, so if customers see that your products are not at as high quality as they’re used to, they will know that something is not right behind the scenes.
The company’s values, ideologies, philosophies, and purpose are defined and enforced by its leader. As an entrepreneur – as a company leader – you have to lead your employees by example. If you direct the company with a purpose, your employees will find a purpose to work for your company. If you create an atmosphere of trust and honesty in the workplace, your employees will trust and be honest with their work. If you give your heart and soul towards achieving the goals of the company, your employees will be inspired to do the same.
Because the visuals of a company are a reflection of its culture, good company design should therefore be based upon that culture. The logo is a distilled representation of what your company does and what it stands for; as such, it should communicate a message that resonates with the company in a direct manner that makes it easily recognisable. Other aspects of design – typography, colour palettes, and the like – should follow and complement the company logo. These design motifs, then, should be reflected in the look and feel of your online outlets as well as the tangible objects associated with your company like uniforms, product packaging, workplace decorations, merchandise, and everything in between.
For a budding entrepreneur, building a corporate identity is a daunting task. But with a little bit of research and a lot of conceptualising and planning, you can develop a corporate identity that is unique, recognisable, and expresses your vision for your company.