A corporate identity and company profile are two key elements that contribute to the success of a business; together, they form your brand manual. In this article, we’re going to examine and provide insight into these two fundamental business-powering essentials.
What is a corporate identity?
Your corporate identity (CI) is essentially a combination of your brand’s logo as well as the visuals, typography and colour schemes that are used to distinguish your business from your competitors.
Visual corporate identity elements include
- Naming (exclusive company name)
- Colour palette
- Corporate font
- Business card
Any item, from a simple form to a complex contract, that bears a brand’s name is part of your business and you mustn’t compromise on the quality of your collateral because it can consciously (and subconsciously) influence customers’ perceptions and your business’s professionalism. Anyone who has received a faded invoice or quotation on an excel spreadsheet can relate to this statement.
Let’s take a step back for a minute and discuss the influence of your corporate identity as a whole. Your CI is your professional identity; it defines who you are and is inherent in every way you present yourself to prospective clients.
The importance of a logo
A logo is the lifeblood of your brand’s identity; it’s the visual representation of your company’s story and should be clever, innovative and visually appealing so that it quickly recognised and evoke emotion from prospective consumers. The logo is the first thing that will enter your clients subconscious mind; it sets the stage for your story.
Therefore, the final design of your logo should
- Make a strong first impression: Your logo is the introduction and the first line of communication between your business and prospective consumers. Also, it instantly conveys ownership over the services/products you offer in your industry.
If it’s well designed, it will intrigue the public to want to know more about your brand; from there, slick, novel marketing strategies that keep the customer interested are vital for sales.
- Foster brand trust and loyalty: One of the primary elements that brands sometimes struggle with is consistency, and that’s why it’s essential to have an official CI. The set colours, typefaces and logo need to coalesce across all media so that an overarching platform of consistent brand messaging can be generated and leveraged. This will illuminate brand irregularity like logo stretching, the use of wrong colours and poor image resolution. Once consumers have belief in your brand’s products/services, trust and loyalty are earned.
Be memorable enough to set you apart from competitors: The majority of markets are highly competitive, and some are even saturated to the point where only a ground-breaking logo and product/service will help you stand apart from your competition. So, take some time to think about your unique selling proposition (USP); in other words, what value does your brand bring to the table that no one else can replicate?
Below is an example of a brand’s success story, beginning with a logo that catapulted it into a universally-recognised, billion-dollar sports equipment and apparel empire.
Swoosh: A case study of Nike’s logo
Behind every brand is a compelling story. An article published by Creative Market explains, In 1971, Carolyn Davidson was a graphic design student at Portland State University. In 1969, she met Phil Knight, then-assistant professor at PSU who would go on to found Blue Ribbon Sports, and, in turn, Nike. Knight knew Davidson was in search of extra funds to take oil painting classes, so he asked Davidson to help him out on some projects at a rate of $2 an hour.
Davidson came up with the Nike Swoosh, a checkmark shape that is fluid and indicates movement and speed. The image also resembles a wing and hinted at the brand name, Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory. Her invoice total for one of the most timeless designs in history? $35.” (Approximately R560 at the time of writing this article).
Nike’s ‘swoosh’ is a quintessential example of the ‘less is more’ concept. It’s not quite a tick, but in terms of a logo sets the stage for a sports brand’s CI, it ticks all the right marketing boxes: simple, unique, memorable and as we all know, is one of the most recognised, authoritative brands on the planet, overflowing with customer loyalty and trust.
“The Nike Swoosh logo was made to look like movement,” according to designer Carolyn Davidson.
The Nike Swoosh was created in 1971 by a graphic designer named Carolyn Davidson for only $35!
Don’t underestimate the power of brand tone and voice
As an entrepreneur who has started a new company from scratch, you are likely to be spending the majority of your time designing, refining, curating and selling your products/services, which is absolutely part of your job. Still, it begs the question, ‘why do start-ups fail?’
Through discussion and analysis of what went wrong, the usual suspects are bad investors, poor marketing and management. While these aspects may have influenced the outcome, business’s need investigate their tone and voice of the brand message; a generic brand with uninspiring, boilerplate is a significant factor that can either make or break a start-up.
The tone and voice that your brand communicates are two of the most crucial aspects of building a successful business. They need to be embedded in your marketing strategies.
This will be your brand story. Like Nike uses the success stories of brand ambassadors to promote their brand, and Trevor Noah uses his life story to promote his brand, you have to tell your story. It is all about the why. It is absolutely crucial to communicate your brand story to the public because “stories sell, and facts tell.”
An article published in Entrepreneur comments, ‘We always judge a book by its cover. If the cover doesn’t hook you on the get-go, whatever’s inside the book, no matter how riveting, becomes irrelevant because you have already moved on. Your brand is your cover page. It’s where the connection between the consumer and the product begins. Mess this up, and you’ve lost your audience forever.’
With interest (and buying power) of your audience on the line, tone and voice of your brand should be researched meticulously. Here are two of the best ways to establish the correct tone and voice of your brand.
Speak the same language of your ideal customer
Conversational? Formal? Your brand messaging must communicate your story in a way that converses with your ideal audience. Part of creating and refining your brand is to identify your target audience’s behaviour, understanding what makes them tick, and then analyse and interpret the data to verify whether you’ve found a strong position in the market.
One of the most beneficial ways to know exactly where you stand is to go directly to your target audience and let them help you build a more effective product or service. Ask for feedback and measure their answers. Objective communication will help you ascertain your brand’s strengths and weaknesses.
Create consistent, omnichannel brand messaging that fosters emotional connections
The power of consistent brand messaging across all media channels is immense; customers want it, so make sure you give it to them.
Let’s look at Nike again. No matter whether you’re looking at their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even LinkedIn profile, their established communication strategies resonate with its target market. Why?
Firstly, the unique story of the ‘swoosh’ logo is most likely still on your mind; now, visit their Facebook page, and what do you see straight away? The logo and slogan. It may look simple, but it further entrenches the brand into your mind. Open their page on LinkedIn and, once again, the logo is up-front. Take a look at any of their other communication/marketing channels, and you’ll see the swoosh staring back at you.
Secondly, the reality is that people continually receive promotional content through digital channels. It’s so common that the majority of people have developed a ‘barrier’ and will only click through if there’s an immediate connection. If it can break through this barrier, you’ve created a relatable brand identity.
The consistency across all channels creates powerful emotional connections. Customers that are emotionally invested in your brand are highly valuable. Industry-leading brands harness and nurture their connections to build long-lasting relationships. Once you have a dedicated customer base, it’s possible to broaden the scope and scale of your business. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort but ‘Just Do It’.
Based on everything that we’ve discussed, we’ve compiled five questions you need to answer to ensure you’ve created a marketable brand identity that will generate qualified leads, sales and overall reputation and revenue growth.
- Who is your target customer?
- What’s your product or service category?
- What’s the value of your product or service?
- Are you able to prove that value?
- Does your product/service break through the emotional barrier? Are you creating and nurturing emotional connections with consumers?
- What problem you are solving for your customer?
- What value will your customer associate with the problem you’re solving?
These questions work in synergy with each other. When you can say ‘yes’ to all of them, you’ll have a much better idea of your brand positioning your specific industry.
Entrepreneur concludes, ‘Nike’s makes you the hero of the story, urging you to take charge of your destiny and defeat your fears and limitations once and for all. This potent cocktail of storytelling and call to action makes the customers feel powerful. In return, they gift Nike their unquestionable loyalty.’
How to write a company profile
What is a company profile?
There’s no need to feel intimidated. A company profile is exactly as it sounds. From a holistic perspective, it’s a document for the public that explains the purpose of your company, more specifically, what, why and how it operates.
What to include in a company profile
- Tell your brand’s story
- Owner(s) and Stakeholders (if applicable)
- Vision statement
- Mission statement
- Service and/or product offerings (include your USP)
- Organogram of all the staff members and the company’s operational structure
- List of awards
- Contact details
All of the above information needs to be clear and concise – a prospective customer doesn’t have time to read 30 pages, keep to eight to 15 pages (maximum).
Heineken: An example of a brand that’s become a living entity
To differentiate yourself from competitors, go beyond your products and/or services. Heineken has complied a fantastic company profile to outline the main reasons why people should choose their beer. Furthermore, they also highlight the human element and size of the business, which has the potential to attract the interest of investors.
Right up front, they explain who they are and what they do. Then, they outline their unique selling proposition (USP) in six clear points. This flows seamlessly into their business priorities which are displayed in an easy to understand graphic.
In addition, they personify their values in a list that is summed up by a strong tag line, ‘We Are Heineken. Here are four values that are stated in their company profile.