What is a Corporate Identity?

What is a Corporate Identity?

By corporate identity, we mean the sum of the characteristics which form the self-image of a company and which make it different from other companies, in short, the company’s “personality”.

Corporate identity answers questions such as “How do we want to be?” and “How do we present ourselves?” and thus directly influences the corporate image of the company, or how the company is perceived by the outside world.

Why should a company develop a corporate identity?

Every company has a corporate identity, but whereas in some cases this has happened unintentionally, in other cases, it has been actively created.

You can leave it to chance how employees communicate with customers and how the company and the brand is perceived and remembered as a result of this. You can also allow employees or agencies responsible for online presence or for designing brochures or letterheads to use whatever fonts or pictures they wish. The result will be that every customer or potential customer will receive a different impression of the company, depending on the person or channel they come into contact with. Every communication leaves a certain image in the mind of the person contacting the company. An actively designed corporate identity ensures that a company is perceived as one unit, that the whole company is associated with certain characteristics and values and that every external communication contributes to the intended uniform image. This makes the company highly recognizable in the target group and creates a feeling of solidarity among its employees.

How do I build up a corporate identity?

The important components of corporate identity which must be laid down to ensure uniform standards are:

  • Corporate Design
  • Corporate Communication
  • Corporate Behavior
  • Corporate Culture
Grafik, die die verschiedenen Bestandteile der Corporate Identity zeigt: Corporate Design, Corporate Communication, Corporate Behavior und Corporate Culture

Corporate Design

Corporate design determines the external image of the company. A uniform image makes the company instantly recognizable and memorable wherever it is in the public eye.

Some of the important elements to be specified are

  • the company logo
  • the colour palette
  • typeface
  • imagery with recurring motives or symbols

The guidelines for corporate design are applied, for example, to

  • Letterhead design
  • Advertising
  • Online presence
  • Product packaging
  • Office décor
  • Work clothes
verschiedene Werbemittel in einheitlichem Design

Ideally, all details of corporate design are set down in a handbook and made available to employees and any service providers such as agencies and printers, so that the guidelines can be applied.

Corporate Communication

Corporate communication also plays a role in creating a uniform perception of a company. It includes all communication by a company, both internal and external. Depending on the image a company wishes to create, the following points should be agreed on and adhered to:

  • Are employees on first-name terms with each other and with customers?
  • What is the company language?
  • Which tone or style is to be adopted towards customers and company employees? Is it to be a formal and sober environment, or more informal or emotional?
Zeichnung der Köpfe von zwei Personen, die miteinander sprechen

The rules of corporate communication should be adhered to in the following cases:

  • Sales talks with customers
  • Written communication such as letters, emails, brochures and online presence
  • Job interviews, communication between superiors and subordinates, interdepartmental communication

Uniform corporate communication is professional, prevents misunderstandings, makes the company highly recognizable and memorable, and can improve the working atmosphere.

Corporate Behavior

Corporate behavior covers all the actions of a company. It includes interaction between employees and with outsiders as well as the actions of the organization itself. Many companies have imposed a code of conduct which all employees must adhere to. This can provide answers to the following questions:

  • What is the company’s ethical and political attitude?
  • What is our environmental policy?
  • Do we show social commitment and if yes, in which areas?
  • How do we interact with customers?
  • How do people in leadership positions deal with employees under them? Is there a possibility to give feedback in the company?
  • How do we solve conflicts? How do we support one another?
zwei Männer geben sich die Hand

These guidelines are used, for example, for the following:

  • Sponsoring
  • Complaint management
  • Leadership
  • Material purchasing

It is important that all conduct is in accordance with statements made, otherwise there will be a loss of credibility. For example, a company which advertises the environmental compatibility of its products underlines its credibility by using renewable energy sources for its buildings and encouraging its employees to cycle to work.

Corporate Culture

drei Menschen, die sich an den Händen halten

There are various ways of describing the somewhat vague term corporate culture. The term covers subjects such as the attitude to certain questions, the history of the company, traditions, values and attitudes shared by the employees. These are deeply rooted in the way of thinking and influence the behavior of the employees without them being aware of it. Corporate culture is something which has grown over time and developed from the characteristics of the people who work in the company, and it is developing further all the time. It is influenced, for example, by national culture, by trends and other external influences. Corporate culture can also be actively created and provides answers to questions such as:

  • What is important for us?
  • How do we work together?
  • How are decisions made?

Corporate culture influences aspects such as

  • The role the company sees for itself in society
  • What is important apart from the business purpose of the company
  • How problems are dealt with
  • How employees treat each other and how differences are dealt with
  • The extent to which business risks are taken

A living corporate culture which is supported by everybody, increases a feeling of solidarity and wellbeing among employees.

An actively created corporate identity is important if you want your company to stand out among competitors. Today, products from different manufacturers are often very similar and sometimes even interchangeable. Customers will buy products from companies whose image and philosophy they can identify with. A clear corporate identity ensures that both the target group and the company’s employees see the company as one unit and form a personal bond with the company and the brand.

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