I am often asked … “corporate identity?” – or – “you mean branding?” Well, in reality, these terms, while very similar, are not exactly the same thing.
A businesses corporate identity is a structured set of parameters to which all materials used to promote or present the business should adhere. These parameters include: company logo; company colors; type of paper; specific images or types of imagery used; specific graphical elements used; how these elements are used; and the style of copy writing used.
Creating and adhering to a structured identity is not always easy, especially when it should affect every single communication which leaves the businesses front-door (or website), but it is well worth it to know that your business is presented as a well organized, coordinated professional institution with which people want to spend money.
Branding is more of a process or action that causes your identity (be it corporate, product or service) to become well known in your target market and/or industry. To effectively brand your business, product or service, you need to take specific actions (usually documented in your marketing plan), such as advertising in radio, tv, magazine, newspaper, online; direct mail campaigns; email marketing; and so on.
Why is my identity so important?
Just like putting on your business suit in the morning, or combing your hair “just right”, your business’s identity tells a lot about who you are, what you are all about and whether or not you might be nice to work with all while projecting a perception of success or … otherwise.
“If the perception of others, is your true reality, then your Corporate Identity is paramount.”
Is perception more important than reality?
If it is not, then why do we often recognize one company more often than another — even if the company we choose may not make us entirely happy? Is it quality, price, value, or location? No, most often it is the Marketing of the businesses “brand identity” that is the key.
Who do you think of first when you decide to purchase a new long distance carrier? Is it one of the big names, or do you remember that deregulation has made it possible for small companies to provide you the same or better service, for less money using the same telephone lines and equipment as the “age-old corporate conglomerates” who treat you like a number?
How we perceive various companies or products impacts our purchasing habits. How well a company “brands their image” determines whether or not we will know the exist and how effective that company’s brand identity is, helps determine the effectiveness of its marketing. MARKETING + Corporate Identity = PERCEPTION.
What happens once my identity is conceived?
Your identity, just like your appearance must be maintained, groomed and sometimes reorganized when fashion’s change. Your materials need to be kept up-to-date and you need to keep pace with your competition.
Creating your identity is only step one, building that brand-able image, maintaining it and helping it to grow are key to Corporate Identity success. If you do not have the skills to create your identity, to manage it or to know what to do from here, it might be a good idea to look into bringing people with any/all of the following skills to your team: graphic design & layout, printing & publishing, Public Relations, Internet Marketing & Development, Sales & Marketing, Business Management & planning, and the management of Corporate Identity
So, where do I begin?
Begin with your logo and standard color scheme, these make up the “face” of your business. Eventually, as you grow, include a public relations campaign that is carefully managed and a solid set of impressive marketing materials to support your sales efforts, these are the “vitamins” that will ensure your growth. Your business card should include a one-line “tag line” that gives the reader a general idea of what your business is about.
Perception is paramount – to be successful is to be perceived as successful. YOUR identity, YOUR business, YOUR Success!