by Kelly Hobkirk
Corporate identity is just what it sounds like, the identifying marketing materials you use to identify your company or brand. Some people also call it brand identity.
Brands are made of three primary components:
1. Visual (identity)
2. Verbal (messaging)
3. Action (how you treat people)
The first creative part of virtually every brand development is visual design. I’ll cover the verbal and action components in upcoming posts.
Your logo and corporate identity, including your business card and website, set the visual tone for your brand and many of your marketing communications. Colors, graphic standards, and type selections are all determined at this phase.
One of the most common questions I get on first contact from someone looking for a graphic designer is, “What items do we need for corporate/brand identity?” There is some variation according to usage and business type, but for nearly every businesses I recommend the following basic items as a start:
2. Business Card
6. Tag line
7. Overview Brochure
8. Mailing Label
Here is an overview of each item, along with the reasons why nearly every business needs them:
Your logo is the visual cornerstone of your brand that tells people who you are, and does so in an incredibly memorable way. It sets the tone for all pieces and graces nearly all of your marketing communications. Love it, and never leave it.
When someone asks for your number at the market, that’s an opportunity hanging in the air, which you can answer easily if you have a great business card handy. Even if you never leave the dark dungeon of your home office or the confines of your plush leather chair, you must have a business card. And not just any business card. Your business card has the power to make a huge first impression, or to be silent as a lamb – even if it’s coming out of an envelope. Never skimp on your business card design or printing. Avoid cheap online printing of your cards at all costs. If you have to go that route, fine, but consider it a temporary stop-gap measure. Or better yet, find any way humanly possible to budget for a great card, and it will pay off in lasting memories in the noggins of your prospective customers.
Your website is the first or second point of contact for many people. Make it great. Budget well for it. Do not put up a website that you have to apologize for. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard people from large and small businesses alike say, “Our website sucks,” or “This is our website, and it’s not really, uhh, very good.”
If you’re not impressed by your website, no one else will be either (even if you apologize for it in advance). If you have a small budget, keep an open mind, and find someone who offers an outstanding solution within your budget. It may take time to find them, but someone can do it. Work incrementally if you have to. Never settle for a lesser website than your brand deserves.
Letterhead, Envelope and Mailing Label
Many businesses use these items few times in a year, however, those few times are usually worth investing in good design and printing. If you send someone a fat proposal on a lasered letterhead in an ink-jetted envelope, you’ve just sealed a fly-by-night look on your hard work. Why risk losing that $150,000 contract (or even the $5,000 deal)? Spend the bucks on quality offset printing, and look professional every time.
We’re venturing into the waters of the verbal part of your brand, but since your tag line accompanies your logo nearly everywhere it goes, your tag line development should be included with the initial brand development deliverables.
While your logo tells everyone who you are, you tag line succinctly tells people what you do and what you stand for. Your logo and tag line are a potent combination of meaningful, memorable brand smack.
Think brochures are outdated? Think again. When your computer, iPod or iPad are absent, your brochure can make the sale. I’m not talking about that yawn-inducing tri-fold in your dentist’s office, replete with cheesy clip-art. I’m talking about the uniquely formatted and crisply designed rockstar brochure that makes you feel like two million bucks handing it out. The one that can be passed on to someone easily and with a word of recommendation. I’m talking about the brochure that makes breaths be held and helps people connect with your company. Your overview brochure is your impressive, convincing voice when you can’t be there.
Sometimes we add in vehicle design, t-shirts, thank you cards, holiday cards, bookmarks and other branded items.
Investing in professional brand identity materials does three things:
1. It makes you look and feel more professional.
2. It helps you project more confidence, thus you sell better.
3. It makes the difference between looking like a fly-by-night organization or a real business people can depend on.
Take care of your basic corporate identity deliverables, and they will take care of your business.