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The Ultimate Guide to Developing a Corporate Identity

A strong corporate identity is an incredibly important part of a successful brand. While we  often focus on branding (or the relationship between consumers and your brand e.g. brand awareness, customer loyalty etc.), the other side of your brand is encompassed in the corporate identity.

What Is A Corporate Identity?

If branding is everything that involves a connection and conversation between your brand and your consumers (i.e. the unseen relationship), your corporate identity is the visual side of the brand. This includes everything from your logo and website design, to your emails, social media, staff uniform, advertisements, and product design. All of these elements are connected to your brand and what it represents, whether in the form of colour palette, logos, fonts, consistent style, or being representative of your brand’s goals.

It is important for this identity to be consistent across all platforms, physical and digital; as it is the first thing that consumers see, and remember, when they interact with your brand.

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How to Create a Corporate Identity:

It can be difficult to know where to start, particularly if you are not a designer or marketing whizz! However, the most important part of corporate identity is not the actual graphic design – that is the final product at the end of the process. Before you think about paying a designer or drawing up designs yourself, you need to start with research.

  1. Do Your Research

There are 4 main areas you need to research:

  • Yourself – look at your brand and decide what makes it the brand that it is. What is your brand message? What do you want your ideal consumers to see when they look at your brand?
  • Your Competitors – do your research on what makes them stand out, what logos/branding/packaging etc. they use, and find out what their customers think of them and what they like/dislike about them.
  • Your Consumers – what do your ideal consumers like? What brands do they like, which are they loyal to, and why might they choose your brand over another?
  • What You Really Need – lastly consider what is actually necessary for your brand in terms of a corporate identity. Most basic corporate identities include: logo, colour palate, typography, web design, and photography/illustration – but there are many other elements such as video, interactive elements etc. that you might want (This is not to say that you should start to design these elements yet, at this point it is more about seeing what you have already and what you might need).

2. Find Your Unique Element

Every brand has that one thing that makes them different from their competition. For example, consider Nando’s. There are plenty of other restaurants that are in the same price range or have a specific theme, but Nando’s has made a name for themselves with their daring branding and tongue-in-cheek ads. That is their thing.

Look back over the research you have done in step 1 and consider what makes you unique. Figure out what the essence of your brand is and what makes you different and unique.

Some questions to ask that might help you figure out more about your brand:

  • What is your mission statement?
  • What are the core values of your brand?
  • What is your brand’s value to your customers?
  • What is your brand voice?
  • Do you have a tagline or brand story?
  • Do you have specific visuals that are important to your brand? 
  • Does your brand need to change over time? Or does it need to be timeless? 

3. Start Developing Your Visual Elements

Now you can start to put together a look and feel for your brand. Put together all of the information and research that you have put together and start to draw out a plan of what visual and creative elements you will need.

Some things to consider:

  • Your brand will almost always need to work in print, in person, and online – so make sure that the colour palate, typography, and illustrations that you choose will look good no matter where you see it.
  • Don’t be afraid to allude to popular competition (e.g. YouTube and Netflix’s bright red alludes to the similarity of their platforms) but you can also use your brand as a chance to stand out from the crowd (e.g. Twitch, another streaming service, uses bright purple and is now known for that colour).
  • Your visual imagery does not have to be literal in relation to your brand. Brainstorm with your team and ideal consumer base, and figure out what works for your brand: is it a wine bottle that gets the message across or a more abstract concept that presents the vibe of your brand.

4. Time To Implement

While you are getting the actual visuals created, whether by you or a designer, start to figure out how you are going to be implementing your new corporate identity across all of the platforms that you use. The more platforms you use, the more of a shift a new corporate identity will be – of you’re just online, it is more a matter of changing all of your headers, profile pictures, templates etc., but if you are rebranding a store, staff uniforms, or even starting from scratch it will take a lot more work to implement.

And remember, it is okay to revise what you have decided to do. A brand is not set in stone, and a strong brand is able to evolve and change as it needed. If pieces of your corporate identity are not working or not being received as you have hoped, then change them up – and don’t be afraid to ask your consumers, the brand is for them after all! Just don’t change it up too much, or your consumers will struggle to develop an attachment to your brand.

If you need some help trying to understand and develop your corporate identity, why not get in touch? We are not designers, but we can help you to figure out what your brand is, who your ideal consumers are, and how you can develop a corporate identity that truly represents your brand.

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