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Corporate Identity

Corporate Identity: Brief Summary

Corporate identity, sometimes considered synonymous with corporate image, is a concept within the wider field of marketing management, referring to the way an organisation or business presents itself to the general public. As a concept, it is concerned with the way a business views itself, the way it wants to be viewed by others and how others actually perceive it. A corporate identity strategy aims to create a distinctive, recognisable market presence.

Ultimately, the concept of corporate identity is not dissimilar to the concept of personal identity, in that it refers to the features that make a business different from others, recognisable and individual. Some of the devices used to convey and construct a corporate identity include logos, slogans, fonts, brand colour schemes, public or media relations, advertising strategies, product design, graphic design, website design and even building or office design.

Corporate Identity: Detailed Summary

While the idea of businesses having an identity has existed for decades, the modern definition of corporate identity dates back to the 1970s and essentially, it deals with the character of a business or organisation. Therefore, having a corporate identity strategy is about recognising that businesses can have an individual character and taking steps to ensure that character is positive and conveyed consistently, across multiple touchpoints.

A corporate identity can be formed and strengthened through intelligent use of a company logo, consistent company colour schemes, slogans and product design, and a measured approach when dealing with the media. The appearance of company buildings, the appearance of company staff, web design, the language and terminology used by the business and its approach to advertising and customer service can also all have an influence in this area.

Companies that are considered to have a strong corporate identity strategy are able to deliver a consistent, unified message to customers, employees, investors and the media. They are also able to cultivate and maintain a level of consistency between their internal corporate identity (i.e. how they perceive themselves) and their external corporate identity (i.e. how other people perceive them).

Although the two concepts are often considered synonymous, some believe a key distinction exists between corporate identity and corporate image. In this line of thinking, corporate identity is either strong or weak, referring to the extent to which a brand has created and presented a unified, distinctive message. By contrast, corporate image can either be positive or negative, based on how positively the company or brand is perceived by others.

ith this in mind, Apple may be considered to have a strong corporate identity, because people recognise the company’s name, logo and colour schemes, know what the company stands for, have an idea of what its products look like and recognise its buildings. Similarly, Coca-Cola may be considered to have a strong corporate identity, making consistently use of their red and white colour scheme on products, advertising and the company logo.

Corporate identity can influence almost all aspects of marketing, from advertising, to experiential marketing and even SEO. For example, a company with a strong corporate identity will take care to present a consistent impression of themselves across television advertising, online advertising, in-person events, social media posts and any online blogs or articles they write, in terms of ideas, voice, attitude and approach.

It is also important to recognise that corporate identity is a fluid concept, and an identify can shift over time. This can be influenced by internal factors and behaviours, as well as wider social trends. Changes in corporate identity can be intentional and strategic, but they can also be impacted or shaped by external perceptions. It is for this reason that corporate identity must be managed and maintained over time, rather than simply established once.

Components of Corporate Identity

There are a significant number of different aspects which combine to create an overall corporate identity and the best management strategies focus on all of these aspects, in order to create and maintain an identity that is as coherent and easily recognisable as possible. With that being said, most of these different aspects can be placed within three broad categories, which are outlined in greater detail below:

  • Visual identity – Perhaps the most obvious component of a corporate identity, this primarily deals with design aspects. For example, it would include things like the company logo, corporate colours, product design, photography and the design of offices or company buildings. A company’s visual identity can make it instantly recognisable to internal and external stakeholders and should convey company values.
  • Communication – This refers to both internal and external communication and is concerned with the language a company uses and what it says. Included within this component are things like company slogans, buzz words and preferred terminology. It also includes things like press releases and the content of advertising. Companies with a strong corporate identity achieve a consistency in tone, voice and use of language.
  • Behaviour – Finally, behaviour can help in the formation of a corporate identity. This includes any conduct towards customers, the media, shareholders and other stakeholders. Things like treatment of staff and social consciousness may also factor in, so fair pay, green credentials and sustainability can contribute. Businesses with a strong corporate identity will behave consistently, appropriately and in line with company objectives.

Ultimately, the keys to a successful corporate identity strategy are to appear, communicate and behave in a way that is consistent, coherent and of value to both internal and external stakeholders. It is also important, however, that businesses aim to differentiate themselves as much as possible, so that their identity is easily recognisable, can be accurately described and can be separated from other businesses or brands operating in the marketplace.

Conclusion

Corporate identity is marketing management concept, describing the way a business presents itself. As with people, businesses can be considered to have an identity, which distinguishes them from other brands or organisations, and makes them easily recognisable. Various factors go into creating and maintaining a corporate identity, and a successful strategy will take into account ideas like visual identity, business communication and corporate behaviour.

Organisations can be considered to have either a strong or a weak corporate identity, depending on the extent to which they are able to convey a clear message, differentiate themselves and remain consistent. Typically, a strong corporate identity will mean that a brand has a recognisable logo, memorable slogans, established colour palettes or design elements. They will also behave in an appropriate way and use consistent language.


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