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  • The Truth About Company Identity and Branding

    Help with Company IdentityThe owners and directors of most businesses understand that it is important  to have a strong company identity that their customers will recognise and respond to. But all too often the first person that companies turn to help them create that identity is a graphic designer or branding consultant – often spending a lot of money in the process. This can be especially true of start up companies. The design of a company logo is important, of course, but it is only one small part of building a strong company identity. Get the rest of it wrong and the best logo in the world won’t be able to repair the damage.

    Your Favourite Company

    Company Identity and Brand Montage

    Think about your favourite company; or if you don’t have a favourite, any company that you have strong respect for. It might be Apple, Disney, Nike, John Lewis, Starbucks or any one of thousands of others.

    Now think about what you know about that company: What do you think are its values, its guiding mission and its personality? What slogan do you most associate with the company? Would you be confident that other people, including the employees of the company, would agree with you? If the company has got its identity right, they almost certainly will. And that identity will be as individual as a person. Even companies producing broadly similar products such as cars all have their own very distinct identities.

    Finally think about the company logo. How much of the personality of your favourite company did you get from the logo – or has the logo simply come to embody the company’s personality through consistent use over many years?

    A great example is the sports shoe and apparel company Nike. Nike’s stated mission is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world; and its values of inspiration, innovation, creativity and excellence are easily recognisable in its products, advertising and sponsorship. Its aim to inspire athletes has been particularly focussed through the regular use of its “Just Do It” slogan. Over the years, the Nike “swoosh” logo has come to embody these values but really there is nothing very special about it as a design. It is just an elaborate tick. In fact, it only cost the company $35 when they bought it from a graphic design student called Carolyn Davidson in 1972, 8 years after the company was first started.

    The message is clear: When you are thinking about your company’s corporate identity, think about the company logo last, not first.

    What are the core elements of Company Identity and Branding?

    Company identity is the heart and soul of any business. It comes from 6 core elements:

    • Its values: The things that matter most to the company and which distinguish it from its competitors
    • Its vision: A brief expression of the company’s overall purpose
    • Its long term goals: The main objectives and landmarks the company aspires to achieve over the next 3-5 years
    • Its key messages: The phrases and statements it uses repeatedly in its conversations with customers and suppliers (including press & PR)
    • Its tone of voice: The way in which the company speaks to its customers (for example “friendly and approachable” or “expert and authoritative”
    • Its branding and logo: Including company colours, font and photographic style

    When all 6 of these elements complement and support one another, a company has an incredibly powerful identity which lifts it far above its competitors. It has an identity that generates great loyalty and trust from its customers, and widespread respect from the industry.

    But, for example, when a logo and slogan say one thing but the owner or employees operate to a completely different set of values, a company will look confused and untrustworthy to its customers. Getting its identity right is therefore one of the most crucial steps towards securing long-term growth for any company and creating a great working environment for everyone involved. And even companies that have been in existence for many years can take some simple steps towards improving their identity.

    If you'd like to discuss your own company or organisation's branding and identity, please give me a call on 07905.929.953. It can be an interesting element of any Small Business Growth Programme.

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