How to create your unique corporate identity

It’s incredibly important to consider how your company is seen by current and potential customers and to develop a strong corporate identity that encapsulates your brand’s values and intent, and represents its core offering.  But WHAT is a corporate identity? WHY is it so important? And HOW do you create a strong corporate identity that sets your business up for sustainable success?

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1. What is a Corporate Identity?

2. Getting your Corporate Identity Started

3. Developing a Corporate Identity

4. Expanding your Corporate Identity

1. What is a Corporate Identity?

corporate identity

A corporate identity is the physical look and feel of your brand, in other words, it is the visual DNA of your company.  

1.1 What is the purpose of a Corporate Identity?

  • It creates a consistent and clear visual identity for your company
  • It conveys that your company is a professional and reliable organisation
  • It establishes your brand equity and standardises your company’s visual representation

Maintaining a consistent corporate identity is vital if you want to present your business in a professional light. Sticking to a particular palette of colours and fonts, consistent logo positioning, as well as using the same tone of voice throughout your printed and online communications will all help to enhance your professional stance.

Recognise this brand?
air bnb logo
That's because of their recognisable Corporate Identity

1.2 What is the difference between brand and Corporate Identity?

While branding can be defined as relating to the emotional relationship between the customer and a business, the corporate identity is all about the look and feel of the business. The latter helps a customer to distinguish their favourite brand from a plethora of other, similar businesses.  A well-known brand name evokes a sense of trust and reliability, whereas its corporate identity speaks of the product/company’s individual quality, it’s ethos and it’s focus. However, when the product/company establishes its identity, it is recognized as a brand.

An extremely well established brand; Red Bull

Corporate Identity

It is through the process of branding that you build a corporate identity, which is a collection of tangible expressions of your company, such as your logo, colours, typography, and tone. The more distinct, specific, and cohesive these elements are, the higher the likelihood that they will shape a differentiated brand that is recognisable and admired.

Brand

A brand is a set of distinctive perceptions, ideas, and feelings that people have about your company, which set it apart from others.  Basically, your brand is what your consumers think of you. As Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit, puts it: “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is—it is what consumers tell each other it is.”

2. Getting Started

corporate identity

2.1 Why is a Corporate Identity necessary for your business?

Many businesses, big and small, neglect to spend the necessary time developing their basic identity when starting out, this leads to a shortfall in their brand at a later stage when consumers or clients cannot recognise the business as one brand.

In short, your brand is the way your customer perceives you and, therefore, it is the most important reason why you need a good and solid CI from the get-go.  

Your brand identity is what sets your business apart from an endless sea of competitors and shows your customers who you are and what they can expect from working with you. If you want your brand to be perceived in a positive light, it’s crucial that you nail your brand identity and create designs that accurately portray who you are to your customers. Now that you know what a CI is and why it’s important for your business, it’s time to start designing.

2.2 Where to start?

First things first—before you start building your corporate design, you need to define who you/or your clients are, and what they do. 

You should know everything you can about your client/or your own business before getting started with the corporate identity. Download the form below to fill in before starting with a CI.

Dowload Form Here

2.3 Understand what makes the business unique

It all starts with your reason for going to work every day and why anyone else should care.  As Simon Sinek famously stated, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” therefore you need to understand the business’s core values and mission.

Companies like Patagonia, TOMS or Lush who have a powerful and, more importantly, genuine mission are able to get not just customers but also employees fully engaged and committed to what they do.  

Simon Sinek

Values

-Lush values displayed on website

2.4 Once you know who your company/client is, you can start to visualise the brand.

A mood board is the next best way to convey your vision of a company to the client with the use of reference images, fonts, colours etc. Once you have the basic look and feel down, then you are ready for your CI to be created! See the example of two mood boards below and notice how you can already start to see the brands come to life.

Moodboard
Moodboard

3. Developing a Corporate Identity

corporate identity

A Corporate Identity consists of a variety of design elements.  These make up the look and feel of the brand.

corporate identity guide
corporate identity guide

The 6 elements that make up a Corporate Identity

Logo

Typography

Colour Palette

Imagery

Iconography

Layout

4. Expanding Your Corporate Identity

corporate identity

Once you have a great looking and functional corporate identity (which includes a logo, all typography, a colour palette, and a CI manual), where do you go from there?

4.1 Brand collateral

Now it’s time to expand your brand through various marketing and advertising channels. Which include, but are not limited to:

  • Business cards
  • Letterheads
  • Email template/signatures
  • Posters/flyers
  • Branding on apparel, vehicles etc. 

4.2 Designing your website

Now that you’ve designed your CI, it’s important to establish brand awareness by building a strong online presence.

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Now that you know the basics, it’s time to get going!