What is Corporate Branding?
Corporate branding includes all of the visual communications that are created to represent the overall face of your organization—from corporate logos and fonts to your tagline, graphics, color palette, and tone of voice. It should carry across all digital and physical components, everything from your website to business cards and letterhead to uniforms and packaging design.
Why is it important? Corporate branding is the act of defining the internal belief structure of a company. It becomes a reference point for all parts of the organization and creates a sense of the culture and personality of the business. This allows corporations to ensure consistency throughout all levels of the company. And by creating a consistent identity, a company is ensuring that they will be more easily remembered. A uniform corporate identity helps a brand become instantly recognizable amongst its customers or target audience.
At id8, corporate branding services include logo design as well as a business card design. Our services also include letterhead and envelope design. While we provide outstanding designs, we also keep your business in mind. We are mindful of your budget and create designs that are easy to use in print and digital applications. This flexibility gives you options when it comes to managing your corporate identity. It also makes it easier to adapt your communication and messaging as necessary. This helps when you need to build consistency into an existing communication strategy.
Corporate branding also includes email signatures, e-letterheads, labels, and sales presentations. These and more are all included in the corporate identity services that we offer at id8. Each business is unique and operates in a different way. We find ways to add corporate branding and identity throughout your business process. This means we incorporate your branding into different parts of your business operations and across all locations.
Here is a list of deliverables that may be included as part of corporate branding and identity:
- Logo Design
- Email Signature
- Business Cards
- Letterhead and Envelopes
- PowerPoint Presentation
- Sales Sheets
- Trade Show Booths
- Vehicle Wraps
- Retail Packaging
- Digital Marketing
- Promotional Items
- Marketing Materials
In our current digital world, social media and websites are two major showcases for your corporate branding and identity—but they aren’t the only opportunities. You can extend your corporate identity in more ways than you might realize. Do you send out emails, have Zoom meetings, or hand out business cards? It’s likely that you do all three every day or at least on a regular basis. These routine actions provide excellent opportunities to showcase your branding.
How many emails do you send each day? A lot. And how many do you receive? A lot. An easy way to ensure your prospects and customers have your contact information at their fingertips is an email signature with your office number, cell phone, email address, mailing address, and website address. That way, at the moment they need it, they can find it in seconds.
And with the prevalence of Zoom meetings, you can further strengthen your brand with custom Zoom backgrounds and good practices. Have all of your employees use a new background that blurs out their location, while adding your logo in the corner. This alleviates any “off-brand” background locations and keeps your company and brand front-of-mind during the meeting.
Finally, think about how your business cards represent your brand. There are so many options that go beyond just a rectangular card with a logo and some contact information. There are opportunities to make your cards stand out with unique die-cuts, vivid or unusual colors, or QR codes to help drive recipients to landing pages with more information on them. Your business cards are still a critical piece of your corporate identity and branding—so make them memorable and something people are excited to receive.
Company Over Products
Corporate branding is also the act of promoting the company itself—not the products or services the company provides. This allows companies to brand themselves and pass along those branding qualities. These qualities flow all the way down across the products. A great example of this is with tools. Look at Dewalt, Ryobi, or Milwaukee. They all brand the company and not individual products.
Why is Corporate Branding Important?
Corporate branding works to keep all members of a company moving together. This is especially important for large companies and companies that are publicly traded.
Having a clear and concise corporate brand makes decisions easier. Through all levels of a company when you make a decision, the decision-makers can reference the brand. The decision-makers only have to ask themselves, “Does this align with our corporate brand?” And if that answer is “No,” then stop.
All decisions that affect the company also affect the brand. If your company has an established brand, you must protect it. Your customers and clients have certain expectations from your brand. If you do anything counter to these expectations, you run the risk of alienating and losing clients.
Alternatively, if you consistently make decisions that mirror your brand and the brand’s core values, your customer base will grow. Also, your customers will likely become more infatuated with your corporate brand. You will turn them into brand advocates.
Elements of a Corporate Brand
Corporate branding encompasses a lot of different elements. Branding is more than just your slogan and a logo. Brands have evolved to encompass feelings, emotions, and sentiment.
This may run counter to your current understanding of branding. But after you have finished with this article, you will have a much better understanding of the potential impact of brands.
So let’s break down some of the most important elements of great corporate branding. Up first is brand identity.
Corporate Brand Identity
Corporate brand identity is how people are able to visually identify your brand. This can be by design or by accident. Whatever the case may be, stay diligent and ensure your company name does not come up alongside negative imagery.
To identify how well your corporate branding is doing, look at social media. Specifically, look at what people are saying on Twitter and look at memes. As childish as it sounds, this is a great way to understand how people visually identify your company.
Corporate Brand Image
Corporate brand image is the ideas and characteristics consumers associate with your company. Characteristics such as luxury, reliability, and sustainability all produce a positive response from consumers. Conversely, if your brand elicits a consumer response connected with pollution, bad business practices, or poor quality, your company has a major brand image issue.
The brand image is fragile and it’s possible to tarnish it. This is even more true since the rise of social media. One post from a customer with a bad experience can result in years of future PR and branding work to undo the damage.
The best example of this comes from a few years ago when a recorded conversation between a customer and a Comcast company representative came out on social media. To summarize, the representative was rude and condescending. This incident resulted in a tarnished brand image for Comcast.
Corporate Brand Personality
A corporate brand personality is the collection of the human traits and emotions associated with that brand or company. Building the brand personality of a corporation can take years and millions of dollars. This is an investment in the company’s future growth and position in the market.
Understanding the importance is only the first step; you also need to ensure you’re in control of your brand. You will need to monitor, maintain, and reinforce your brand. If your company is not controlling the narrative on the traits of your brand, someone else will. If you are not reinforcing your brand personality, all it takes is one incident for your company to become associated with negative personality traits. This will have catastrophic effects and could set your company back years.
Corporate Brand Equity
Corporate brand equity is the value of a brand. This is not necessarily a monetary value. Brand equity is more intangible and abstract. The value your company derives from public perception and personal experiences is shared through various media channels.
Additionally, you can combine these abstract qualities with the corporate branding efforts of making their brand recognizable and memorable.
Establishing and guarding the value of your brand equity is important. Public perception directly correlates to sales. If your brand is regarded in a positive manner, publicly, your company will sell more because you are trusted.
Apple is a great example of brand equity. The public sees them as a premium tier provider of quality products. As a direct result of this perception, consumers are more likely to purchase an Apple product.
The Corporate Brand Gap
The corporate brand gap is the difference between the brand promise and the actual experience with the brand. This is a key factor in customer retention. If your brand promise is to make life easier, but your customers have multiple issues with your product or service, that difference between the expectation and reality is the brand gap.
It’s important to live up to what your brand promises to consumers. If your company is breaking promises, there is no amount of marketing or public relations efforts that will help. A bad product is just that, a bad product. Do not commit any additional resources to try and salvage it. Instead, take those resources and use them to recover from the damage done by the bad product.
Corporate Brand Experiences
The brand experience is a combination of all feelings, thoughts, and sensations that are brought on by a brand. This includes every part of interacting with your brand. Seeing an advertisement, the purchasing experience, or using your brand’s product are all part of the brand experience.
For a great example of brand experience, look at Chick-fil-A. Every location you visit follows the same guidelines to ensure a consistent brand experience. From the language used on advertising and by staff members to the look and feel of the store, all of this is part of the brand experience.
There are a lot of little things that make up the whole brand experience. Even something like the packaging design is not to be overlooked. Apple provides one of the best brand experiences. From the clean and orderly packaging of the products to the layout of their stores, they do not overlook any aspect of their brand experience.
Corporate Brand Extension
To truly find corporate success, a company must be able to grow beyond its original market. This requires the ability to reach different sectors of the market through innovation and product diversification. This is paramount for companies that want to really make an impact.
Amazon is the ultimate winner when it comes to brand extension. This was a company that started as an online book retailer and is now one of the largest and most successful companies ever. How did Amazon become the massive success that we know today? Through brand extension. After they became known for selling books online, they gradually added new offerings to their online marketplace. Then came the online streaming service, which keeps people engaged with their brand. The list of their innovation steps could continue, but you get the point.
Have a Strong Base
If you want to see massive growth in your company, brand extension is necessary. As a point of note, your company’s primary offering must be flawless before you extend into other offerings. Don’t build too high unless you have a strong base.
Corporate Branding Guidelines
Branding guidelines are essential for companies that want to be consistent in brand experience, brand messaging, and brand image. These guidelines are relevant to all parts of the business and should be referenced often. Parts of the guidelines will be referenced in the employee handbook and the manuals or knowledge bases for every position.
Let’s look at some of the different parts of the brand guidelines. All branding guides encompass these aspects.
Corporate Branding Interaction Guidelines
Some part of your company regularly interacts with customers, clients, prospects, or the general public. These interactions are with a representative of your company and, as such, they are a direct reflection of your brand.
Understanding your brand’s values and being able to articulate these values to your employees will set the expectation of adhering to the brand experience guidelines.
Every employee covering every role within your company should know how the brand affects their duties. Lay out the positional expectations they are required to meet as well as how their performance will be judged. Again, these are all related to interactions. This can be a separate section in the employee handbook.
Every interaction is part of your customer’s experience with your brand and having well-trained representatives will ensure a consistent experience for everyone who comes in contact with your brand.
The company best known for providing consistent corporate brand interaction is Disney. Have you ever visited a Disney Park? Every part of their interaction with the public follows specific guidelines. Disney Park employees know exactly what is expected of them, through clearly defined “dos and don’ts” in their contract and employee handbook. Also outlined are the consequences of failing to meet these expectations.
Having guidelines that clearly define all levels of brand interactions will ensure a seamless brand experience for anyone that interacts with a representative of your brand.
Your Employees Need to be Onboard
Every role within your company should know how the brand affects their duties. Lay out the positional expectations they are required to meet as well as how their performance will be judged. Again, these are all related to interactions. This can be a separate section in the employee handbook.
Corporate Branding Visual Guidelines
Corporate branding visuals are what most people think of when they think of branding. But what most people don’t know is what all is included in the visual aspect of branding. Also overlooked are the consequences of inconsistencies in the visual aspects of branding.
There are three primary aspects of visual guidelines—the logo, color, and imagery guidelines. This part of the corporate brand guide will only be referenced by designers and advertisers, but having these guidelines well defined makes sure everything created for your brand is consistent.
Corporate Logo Presentation
Presenting a consistent, good-looking, and identifiable logo is an absolute necessity. You must be consistent in your branding practices in order to gain brand recognition and brand recall. This is done by adding a section in the branding guide that covers all possible uses of the logo.
Your corporate logo will be added to a near-infinite number of materials and advertisements. Because there is no standard sizing to allow for logo placement on certain materials, your logo must have the ability to maintain clarity at all sizes.
From social media to the stock market to the side of your box – your logo is everywhere. But does the logo look as good on social media as it does on the side of a box? These are the kinds of things your branding agency will think of. Ensuring your company logo looks good regardless of where it is seen is part of the overall branding strategy every agency considers before releasing the final design.
The usage and the target market that will be exposed to your logo from any given endeavor will also factor into the decisions when creating the logo. Some occasions call for something less formal, so there are multiple options for your logo.
- Full Logo – This is the most commonly used logo. This type of logo can also be used in conjunction with a brand mark.
- Abbreviated Logo – This is similar to the full logo. The primary difference here is the amount of information the logo contains. Your primary logo may contain the full company name, while the abbreviated logo only has the primary business name.
- Brand Mark – The brand mark is the true visual part of your logo. Most logos contain words. The brand mark is the part of the logo without words. The Nike Swoosh is a brand mark.
Corporate Branding Colors
What are your corporate colors? Do you have alternate colors? When one of your brand colors conflicts with the logo placement, what do you do? Establishing these guidelines will ensure a consistent presentation of your brand colors no matter where the brand is being presented.
Corporate Branding Imagery
The imagery guidelines you set for your brand are crucial for ensuring the proper emotions are related to your brand. Whatever emotions you want your brand to be associated with, there is certain imagery that is related to those emotions that will also relate to your brand.
From a PowerPoint presentation to an advertisement in a magazine, the imagery used in those need to be in line with the brand. Consistency is essential for brand success.
Corporate Brand Messaging Guidelines
Finally, brand messaging is the language and phrasing used in all materials and advertisements that convey your brand’s value propositions to all customers, prospects, and employees. This is what makes your brand relatable.
Depending on the size of your company, your brand messaging could be used in dozens or even hundreds of places per day. This would be an impossible task for a single person to monitor all of these. That is why it is so important to document your brand messaging guidelines.
Maintaining your brand messaging also extends to social media. As more companies build a presence on social platforms, maintaining your brand messaging in the language you use for these posts is essential. What you say and how you say it, when speaking as a brand, has a profound impact on how your brand is viewed.
Wendy’s is a brand known for burgers, fries, and Frostys. But recently, they are best known for roasts. Because they are roasting everyone and everything on Twitter. This is a great example of knowing where to find your target market and create content that resonates with them.
The brand messaging for Wendy’s probably focuses more on tone and how to present the message. There may be some part of the branding guide that covers what to say, but it would most likely speak abstractly and rely more heavily on providing examples.
Corporate branding is an essential building block for all parts of an organization. If you want to see your company succeed, take your time to build a quality brand. id8 is ready to help your brand refresh or define your corporate branding and guidelines.