Corporate Branding: What it is, and how to get your Brand Identity Right
The topic of branding is one of the most interesting and relevant concepts for many businesses. A brand is something that you should be able to recognise from a mile off. What does that mean? It means that when you see a product, service, piece of writing, anything, you should be able to work out whose business that belongs to.
Good brand design is something that is recognisable even without the business name or logo. In fact, branding design is one of the most important things you need to get right for your business. It’s huge.
However, corporate branding is a topic that many business owners still don’t understand or perhaps they only have vague ideas about what branding is. In this post I’m going to explain what a brand is and how you can get clear on your corporate
How a ‘brand’ is different from a ‘logo’
Do you really want to know what a brand is? A brand is actually quite a simple concept that tends to become diluted. THIS is what your brand is; It is WHO you are, WHAT you do, WHY you do it, and who you do it for.
A brand is you expressed in everything you do from your products and services, your website copy, your website design, everything. Think about some of the biggest brands in the world. Take Apple for example. Everything that is Apple has Steve Jobs’ personality radiating through it from product design to service delivery. Everything.
A logo is nothing but the visual aspect of the brand identity. It’s the visual representation of who you are, what you do, why and who for.
Let’s look at another big example like McDonald’s. When you see the big M what do you think of? Probably fast food. Cheap food. Somewhat tasty and definitely unhealthy food. Happy meals for kids. Burgers and fries that taste the same wherever you go.
Whenever you look at McDonald’s you will notice that their brand identity is consistent across everything that they do. Their website, social media channels, television ads, cups, and even happy meal bags all look the same. There is a very good reason for this and it’s called consistency.
Consistency is key with corporate brand identity. Everything you do in your business needs to be branded consistently because if it isn’t then you are going to find it tough to establish your own brand identity amongst all of the other established brands out there.
So how do you develop a strong corporate brand?
This is harder than it seems and many business owners can feel overwhelmed at trying to design and develop a strong and consistent brand. However, you’ve got to start somewhere just like every current established business did.
You need to start building your brand as soon as possible. The longer you wait to do this, the worse it is going to get. Start developing your brand today across everything that you do.
Here is, generally, what the branding process should look like:
Step 1: Perform a brand audit.
Performing a brand audit means evaluating everything about your current brand. Go through everything from the way your website looks and feels, current brand messaging, website copy, everything to see where you are going wrong. From here you can work out what you need to change. I also recommend having a look at your competitors’ brands as well.
Step 2: Determine your brand’s promise - the who, what, why, and for.
To do this you need to gather together every leader in your business, not just the marketing team and have an open discussion about what you stand for as a business. Think about your business' mission, products and services, your promise, your customers, etc. If possible it may be necessary for you to outsource this to a branding professional or brand design agency to make sure you are communicating the exact kind of message you want.
Step 3: Get everyone on board. I mean, everyone.
Now you need to get everyone in your business on board. This means everyone so all the employees need to be on board. What you need to do is distribute a survey or questionnaire so that you can assess how the staff really perceives the company and the brand you should communicate. This way you are ensuring that everyone in your business is on the same page.
Step 4: Make your brand come alive.
The next step is to take all of this information you’ve compiled and get it represented visually in the form of a logo. This may mean taking your business' existing logo and updating to better reflect the current mission.
You need to make sure you hire a professional brand design agency for your logo design. Your logo needs to reflect your business' mission and you need a professional who can get this right for you.
NOTE: Avoid ‘design by committee.’
The agency you hire is the expert so this means you need to trust them. That means not mucking around with the logo they’ve designed and the various elements on it. The brand design agency has designed your logo in a particular way for a reason, because it best represents your business’ mission. Remember, they are the experts and that’s why you hired them.
This isn’t the time to get everyone’s opinion on the logo either. The agency has full authority over the logo. If you don’t let them demonstrate their authority then you are going to be dealing with the revision process forever, and your rebranding will go nowhere.
Step 5: Develop guidelines for implementing the brand - and ‘enforcing’ it when needed.
You need to get your marketing team together to work out when best to implement your new brand visually. Think about things such as the colours, typefaces, background colours, etc.
It is important that you work with the staff of your marketing department so that they are fully aware of when to represent your brand visually. Make sure that they are aware of brand guidelines and are sticking to them. If only half of your team is following your brand guidelines then it will lack consistency and, as I’ve mentioned earlier, consistency is the key when it comes to corporate branding strategy. If you don’t do this then you are going to end up with a messy looking logo and a brand
representation that just looks out of place in general.
Corporate branding is one of the most important components of your business. Having a great logo is an important component of your business. However, it isn’t always easy to make sure that your brand identity is represented visually through your logo and every other aspect of your business. Hopefully this article has provided you with a simple to follow guideline that you can use to develop a corporate brand identity that will help you grow your business.
How have you found developing a brand identity for your business?