Previously, we spoke about the importance of consistent branding in creating customer loyalty, building trust, and communicating quality. Thus, a strong corporate identity makes for a strong brand. Corporate identity is a main component of branding that visually represents the brand.
Lately, it has been challenging to convince small businesses of the importance of having a corporate identity. Because of such things as the recent recession and cash flow challenges of small business, the proliferation is for companies to pump out cheap, non-distinctive logos, results in many small businesses failing to realize the importance of visually communicating a company’s message to its targeted demographic.
According to BussinessDictionary.com, corporate identity is defined as “a combination of color schemes, designs, words, etc. that a firm employs to make a visual statement about itself and to communicate its business philosophy. It is an enduring symbol of how a firm views itself, how it wishes to be viewed by others, and how others recognize and remember it.” Many successful companies, such as McDonalds, Nike, and Toyota, are easily recognized as strong corporate identities.
A corporate ID tells a story about your company, its vision, and the messages you deem important. People want to hear and feel your story. They want it to be exciting. So, if you’re telling a boring story, you know they will be headed straight for the door.
Apple’s corporate identity is a great visual representation of a strong brand. Its logo is clean, elegant, and simple. When the company decided to remove the rainbow stripes from its logo, it signaled a new era for Apple: smart branding allowed the company to clearly communicate a change in direction while continuing to build its reputation.
Being unique is key. People see between 500 and 800 visual messages per day from billboards, televisions, magazines, the Internet, and many more.
Once you create a logo, it’s important for your marketing collateral to have a consistent look and feel in order to create brand consistency and awareness. I often find myself telling clients, “Consistency, consistency, consistency!”
As you embark on creating a great logo, business card, letterhead, and other marketing collateral, there are several things to keep in mind:
1. Graphic design is not just about “making something look pretty.” Designers and clients fail to realize graphic design is all about communicating with your target market. Working with a graphic designer who understands the importance of color theory, typography, and layout will ensure your marketing collateral allows you to connect with those you’re trying to reach.
2. Keep your logo and marketing collateral simple and well organized. While your marketing collateral should not be a plain, white piece of paper, it is important to not inundate your target with two many colors, too many fonts, or too much information. Many times, I have received business cards or other marketing collateral and found myself unsure of the message being sent.
3. Avoid clip art logos. I’ve had clients tell me they get logos for $50 or even $10. Many times, online companies will use pieces of clip art to assemble their logos. Remember, your corporate ID is about being unique. Creating a logo that is original is a key part of effective branding. Following this key piece of advice is important, not only to be different, but to avoid potential legal issues in regard to copyright. As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”
4. Make sure your vision is clearly defined. Before having a graphic designer start on your marketing collateral, it is important to define your business. We often use a marketing person to flush out those ideas. Oftentimes, I’ll have a client who expects me to be that “consultant.” But a graphic designer’s job is to take the client’s ideas and represent them visually.
Establishing your corporate identity is a lengthy process. It is not easy or cheap. While the cost for establishing a corporate identity can vary greatly, from $700 to $4,000 — depending on the logo needs and the design of the supporting marketing collateral and website — it is important to see this as an investment and not a cost.