Other than a transformation visually, what value does a corporate identity provide?

In every business there is someone at the top steering the ship. That person could be a CEO or an MD depending on your corporate structure but either-way, when change happens within an organisation, it is the leaders that drive it. Inevitably when change happens, it affects the employees and it affects your customers.

Rebrands typically happen at a point of change for an organisation and the corporate identity and brand identity is, or should be, at the heart of any change to make it successful. Now, let’s forget about the pretty pictures and the nice sparkly website you will get once a new corporate identity is rolled out. Let’s think about the real value and impact an effective brand identity can deliver.

An effective corporate identity strategy and programme will help you to achieve a range of objectives for your business.

For example, the results agencies like us help to achieve is as follows:

  • Support the complete business transition strategy
  • Rejuvenate the company and get everyone pulling together and pushing in the right direction
  • Increase company value and increase share price
  • Increase cross selling opportunities
  • Integrate newly acquired companies more efficiently
  • Change company culture following an acquisition or merger
  • Respond to competitive pressures and changes in the marketplace

Before you embark on a rebranding journey, you must set clear, measurable goals and objectives. This will ensure the project goes to plan and everyone understands what outcomes they’re all trying to achieve.

When do organisations need to develop a corporate identity?
Change to the business strategy is typically what drives the need for a rebrand. Whether that be growth through acquisition, de-mergers, restructure, strategic service change, culture, social, or a major new product or service launch, all of these complexities have an impact on the company internally and externally. The way that customers and stakeholders perceive your business needs careful management and a strategic, inclusive approach is the best way to tackle the situation.

As an example, acquisition and rapid growth can leave organisations with multiple subsidiary company identities with differing cultures, services and expertise. A cohesive brand and visual identity is vital to unite everyone in the company whilst increasing the overall share value.
Consolidation across national boundaries often requires the the integration of different, well known corporate bodies, each with completely different cultures. We resolved such a challenge with the creation of WashCo, a merger of 3 different powerhouses operating UK wide.

A de-merger on the other hand is a different kettle of fish. In someways it is a bit easier but still may require the creation of a completely new brand identity, for example the recent GSK rebrand was a result of a de-merger that saw the creation of Haleon.

As products and services continue to be increasingly similar, consumers make purchases on emotional gut feeling; that’s why the right corporate image is created. An effective brand identity influences the consumer into engaging with your brand and buying. Once they are in though, the experience they get must match their expectation.
Changing technologies, the deregulation or globalisation of various systems, procedures and controls can force organisations to change the way it operates, and sometimes the identity has to change as well.

What is a corporate identity?
In short, a corporate identity is the visual identity of a brand, it’s not ‘the’ brand per se but it helps form the brand. Remember, our brand is what your customers say about you, not what you say it is. It’s their gut feeling and emotional attachment to you, that is the brand. The corporate identity is the elements they remember and see across various touchpoints. Every day your company (brand) interacts with many audiences both internally and externally. You sell products or services and you promote them through various touchpoints such as presentations, advertising, the web, workspace and other channels. It is the constant and consistent application of your corporate identity across all the touchpoints that helps to build a lasting relationship with customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders.

The way you dress, speak and conduct yourself is your identity and in turn that can influence the way various audiences respond to you. And because the range of activities a company does are so vast, where the identity is displayed so diversely, it is very important that the company’s identity is managed consistently across all channels.

Brand guardianship is important; it is equally as important as getting the right corporate identity designed for your business. At Frost, we like to be brand custodians for our clients and ensure they manage the application of their corporate identity consistently so that it is integrated across every part of the company and achieves total clarity across these key areas:

  • who you are
  • what you do
  • how you do it
  • where are you going
  • why you are different.

The main areas where an identity manifests itself are:

  • Communications: how you communicate/sell your products or services to all your audiences – internally and externally
  • Environments: where you make or sell products and services
  • Behaviour and attitude: how you behave towards your employees and how they behave towards customers, suppliers and each other
  • Products and services: what you make or sell, and the perceived quality.

What should corporate identity do?
It should represent everything your company does, everything it owns, and everything it makes should project a clear idea of who you are, what you do and the way you do it, and what you stand for. At the very heart of a corporate identity are your values and your purpose, why you exist beyond making money and why your customers should care. The visual identity is a visual expression of these values, your purpose and your very reason for being. It comprises of the company name, which can sometimes sit alongside a symbol or simply be a logotype or mark and may be combined with an identity system that is created to clearly and consistently show its application across every level of the business.

Types of corporate identity
Most companies will have an identity that falls into one of the following strategic brand architecture formats. Branded House, House of brands or a hybrid model. You can read more about brand architecture here. Clients will often come to us to solve inconsistencies with the identity system, that is not the brand architecture though. An identity system is shown below. This can happen due to various change over the years within a business and poor brand guardianship or lack of guidelines to follow. The type of corporate identity and system a business has will vary considerably but must be a true representation of them both visually and tonally.

At the the of the day, your corporate identity is very important and when executed strategically and creatively will deliver value to your business. Below is The International Corporate Identity Group’s (ICIG) statement on corporate identity:

“Every organisation has an identity. It articulates the corporate ethos, aims and values and presents a sense of individuality that can help to differentiate the organisation within its competitive environment. When well managed, corporate identity can be a powerful means of integrating the many disciplines and activities essential to an organisation’s success. It can also provide the visual cohesion necessary to ensure that all corporate communications are coherent with each other and result in an image consistent with the organisation’s defining ethos and character.

By effectively managing its corporate identity an organisation can build understanding and commitment among its diverse stakeholders. This can be manifested in an ability to attract and retain customers and employees, achieve strategic alliances, gain the support of financial markets and generate a sense of direction and purpose.

Corporate identity is a strategic issue. Corporate identity differs from traditional brand marketing since it is concerned with all of an organisation’s stakeholders and the multifaceted way in which an organisation communicates.”

Published by the European Journal of Marketing: From the article Corporate identity: the concept, its measurement and management by Cees B.M. van Riel

If you are seeking strategic advise on your corporate identity then feel free to get in touch. A risk free and cost effective way of getting the answers you need to inform the next steps to take would be to do a brand review.