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Corporate identity basics

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Corporate identity refers to the strategic concept for positioning a company. It entails defining identity traits, integrating them into a congruent action concept and coordinating them within this concept. Its objective is to permanently anchor a distinct, easily recognizable image in consumers’ minds.

Purpose

Every company has a personality or corporate identity, whether it consciously “manages” this identity or not. Not every company needs to tamper with the status quo. But every company should take the time to consider whether its current identity reflects corporate reality.

It should also examine whether the employees’ perception of the company is in synch with the public’s view. In many cases, it will turn out that potential is being wasted—and with it, decisive competitive advantages.

Effects

Companies have gradually come to realize that a visual identity is only one aspect of a comprehensive identity process, and that the identity of a company comprises much more than its visual dimension. Corporate identity is made up of a large number of characteristics that need to be clarified and structured, including orientation, philosophy and communication.

Only a structured, well-defined approach can lead to both a clarification of corporate personality and clear differentiation from the competition. A corporate identity program is thus primarily a management tool that can help identify and systematically manage a company’s structures, themes and personality. In short, it is an element of brand management relevant to both market and social strategies.

The above goals can only be achieved if corporate identity becomes the guiding principle for all company activities. Seen from this angle, identity refers not only to a logo and brochures, but to a harmonious relationship between all corporate activities. Everything that the company does and says draws on and expands its identity, strengthening—or weakening—it.

Approach

A corporate identity process ideally consists of six steps that build upon each other and that are developed and implemented in close co-operation with company decision-makers.

Nonetheless, structures, background, philosophy and many other crucial factors differ from company to company, and project participants must begin by determining what their destination is and what measures are needed to reach it. This means that the process can vary in terms of its content, duration and the sequence of events.

In order to ensure that the process is goal-oriented and stringently implemented, companies require a corporate identity officer who has the required internal and external authority as well as the full support of company management.

The typical phases of an “ideal” process are:

  • Identity process
  • Brand development
  • Communication strategy
  • Design development
  • Migration and documentation
  • Review of the measures, monitoring
  • Resources: Corporate Identity Documentation



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