The terms corporate identity, brand identity, and brand image are often interchanged, but are, in fact, distinct from one another.
All three are woven together, but each must be considered separately when building your brand. It all begins with corporate identity.
It can be difficult to define corporate identity. Much more than your corporate culture, it must answer the question, “who are we?” Corporate identity is the action a company undergoes in order to achieve a good perception from their target audience. It is obtained through corporate design, corporate communication, and corporate behavior.
Corporate design includes the brand assets that make your company unique and stand out from the competition. A brand’s corporate identity design is visually reflected in its logo, name, style guide, slogan, color palette, typography, uniforms, buildings, business cards, and more. Maintaining the corporate identity can be managed by creating a brand guideline manual for employees to follow.
Corporate communication is how your business disseminates information to employees, investors, external stakeholders, and customers. This includes public relations, internal communication, reputation management, and other external communication efforts.
Corporate behavior is the essence of a company. Through corporate behavior, a company should show its core values, brand promise, and philosophy. Many prominent brands achieve this through corporate social responsibility endeavors. Corporate behavior is how you present your brand to the community at large, including customers, clients, employees, and investors.
Brand identity is how an organization wants to be perceived by its target audience. It is the message that your customers receive from the company brand. Maintaining this message is important for brand consistency so that your target market will always recognize your brand and keep their brand loyalty. Maintaining brand identity can be frustrating when old logos are floating around in the company’s shared drive. One way to get a grip on maintaining up-to-date logos and marketing collateral is to use a digital asset management solution in order to keep all your marketing materials compliant and consistent.
Brand image or corporate image is the current external perception held by consumers. It is the overall associations and beliefs your customers or potential customers have about your brand and, as an extension, your product or service. Corporate image encompasses the overall impression that consumers have in their mind about your brand from a variety of different sources.
Strong corporate identities are vital to and instrumental in shaping people’s sentiments about your brand and its products or services. In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s vital for organizations of all sizes, missions, and purposes to establish a corporate identity manual, brand style guide, principles, and tone of voice. Here are four reasons why.
Every organization is a living, breathing entity, continually growing, changing, and responding to outside influences. It’s easy to see, therefore, how your organization’s corporate culture is inextricably linked to its branding and strategy. Unfortunately, many companies ignore managing and protecting their organizational identity until a crisis forces them to confront some harsh reality.
A perfect recent example of this is Uber. The company has gone through a streak of internal and external scandals that culminated in a rash of resignations and removal of founder Travis Kalanick as CEO. The brand also received a lot of criticism in 2016, when it decided to launch a new corporate visual identity, but failed to acknowledge its disjointed corporate culture and global perception.
Another example experts often refer to is when HP’s then-CEO, Carly Fiorina, miscalculated what the reaction would be to the firm merging with Compaq, a company which did not reflect the established brand personality, values and identity of HP’s founders.
Conversely, brands that establish and maintain a respected corporate identity are rewarded with a corresponding positive effect on the company image and corporate reputation. A good example is Apple which, after 30 years and just a few minor missteps, is still seen as an innovative and pathbreaking brand.
Other companies that illustrate how important identity is to brand include Coca-Cola, which focuses on spontaneity and customer delight; Target, a company that consistently delivers an exceptional retail experience; and Southwest Airlines, whose distinct corporate personality is reflected in its fun approach to get travelers from points A to B. What do all these organizations have in common? They are brands millions of people know and trust.
A strong corporate visual identity adds tremendous value to your brand equity and can, in fact, be its strongest asset. Properly developed, a brand personality creates a bond between you and your customers, helps establish staying power, and ultimately sets the stage for all future customer interactions.
MarcomCentral, a brand management software, is here to help you manage and customize your marketing assets across your entire company.