Do companies have a personality? Yes, and the more unmistakeable and positive this corporate identity is, the better you can stand out from the B2B competition. Here is where decision-makers can find guidance to a successful corporate identity.
Corporate identity: definition and meaning
The term corporate identity (CI) plays an important role in corporate communications. According to the definition, it stands for the appearance and image that an organisation wants to convey. When perfectly executed, it leaves behind a long-term, individual and positive impression on the B2B target group. This is important for standing out from the competition – and above it. This means the CI is an essential base for the image of a company. Particularly in the highly competitive markets with many stakeholders and similar offers, an optimally fine-tuned profile can make the difference.
This is why it should be well prepared. And preferably based on an overall strategy, as single measures are hardly able to achieve the desired effect. The corporate identity is much more than a well-designed business card or stationery. It is an interaction of various parts which are all committed to a single goal. This includes elements that have a harmonious look and feel, such as:
- Web design
- Language (slogans, etc.)
- Office material
In addition to these concrete elements, a holistic CI also includes the values and culture of a company. Only once these all come together are they able to create a rounded-out and captivating company image.
Pillars of a corporate identity
Building up a corporate identity is a demanding and multifaceted task. It consists of three main pillars:
- Corporate design is the visual component. It signals the presence of a company based on its design. To achieve this, characteristic colours, fonts and graphics are used which are reflected in each form of corporate communications.
- Corporate wording sets quasi the unmistakeable tone. It is the language with which a company communicates internally and externally. This relates to catalogues, offers, promotions and employee information – both digitally and in print. Not to forget: commercials and other audio-visual media should always be presented by the same person whenever possible.
- Corporate behaviour is related to the appearance and attitude of a company. These components also play a role in external and internal communication. They show, for instance, how an organisation behaves when it comes to presentations, press conferences or – and especially important – in crisis situations. This affects how managers and other employees behave towards one another and their B2B customer.
Its starting point is the company philosophy. It serves as a foundation for all business and other goals.
Developing a CI with a strategy
The basis for every corporate identity is a finely tuned strategy. Its starting point is the company philosophy. It serves as a foundation for all business and other goals. Not just about economic success, the CI goes further to focus on important values and issues. What is special about me and the company? Which behaviour do I want to show? Entrepreneurs or managers should find credible and individual answers to these questions. Ideally, the behaviour of management should be reflected in the company.
The ideas and culture should be manifested in several principles. They give the direction of the corporate identity and have to be sustained by the entire team. After all, when a corporate philosophy is lived up, this not only has an impact on relations with customers, it is automatically directed towards the employees.
An additional aspect are the tools for distributing the corporate identity. They are formed from the three above-mentioned pillars of the CI. This not only includes content and design, but also the suitable formats and media.
A few recommendations for the development of a corporate identity strategy:
- View your company as an independent personality with its desired characteristics.
- Determine content and other formats for communicating your corporate identity.
- Examine among the target group if the actual image is in line with your own expectations.
- Check how the competition has an impact on customers.
- Select new employees according to the principles of the corporate identity.
- Pay attention to the management’s ongoing function as a role model. For instance, their attitude towards employees and the public in the sense of corporate behaviour (pricing, sales, social responsibility). The right further training is recommended.