Corporate Identity and Branding – How to Build a Winning Brand

Why Corporate Identity and Branding Matter.

Corporate Identity and Branding work hand in hand. Some people even compare them to the chicken or the egg conundrum—which came first? Both corporate identity and branding are necessary to attain the critical business goals of increasing market share and generating revenue. Sometimes you can’t tell one from the other. Building a brand that makes people want to do business with you is only accomplished by communicating a clear and consistent corporate identity and brand message. It requires listening to customer needs and responding through persuasive copywriting and content marketing that addresses industry pain points and provides the product, service or solution to solve the problem. What’s the best way to know if your corporate identity and branding are effective? Track your sales and assess your brand equity.

Baby Chick with EggSo, is it: First, you define your identity—then you brand it? Or is it: First, you define your brand—then develop your corporate identity? It really is like the chicken or the egg. You’ll get as many answers as there are corporate identity and branding professionals. So how do corporate identity and branding diverge and how do they merge?

Corporate Identity and Branding—the Chicken or the Egg of Marketing

Corporate Identity

How your employees and clients feel about your organization is based on the identity you portray internally and in the marketplace through your communications. A corporate identity represents who the company is—it’s the company’s personality—like opening a Coke makes you happy, there is no substitute for driving a Porsche, and you’re in good hands with Allstate. Three brands whose personalities stand for quality in different industries that are embedded in our lives through on-point, strong brand messaging. Corporate identity—brand personality—is what makes a company unique. Shaped by senior executives through a corporate mission, vision and values that are aligned with the business goals, the corporate identity also takes on the characteristics and values of its employees. Once a corporate identity is defined and established, a system of Corporate Identity Guidelines is put in place to ensure that all brand communications in all media are clear, consistent, and on point with the business strategy and sales goals.

Business People Standing An effective corporate identity is the result of exploring all aspects of the business and taking into account every department’s viewpoint. According to an article on corporate identity and corporate branding in the European Journal of Marketing, a corporate identity is a mix of identity types. The authors define business identity as the combination of “tangible and intangible elements that make any corporate entity distinct.” British and North American corporate identity and branding consultancies concur that traditionally corporate identity and branding programs have been narrow in scope, and to counter this situation five corporate identity types should be defined and closely aligned to each other to ensure that all organization perspectives are part of the corporate identity development process. The point is that corporate identity is complex: It is an amalgamation of many identities defined within an organization.

John M.T. Balmer defines the five identity types in the AC 2 ID Test TM that every company must closely align when developing their corporate identity. Each type is based on different criteria:

  1. Actual Identity – values, behavior, activities, market scope, performance and positioning
  2. Communicated Identity – organizational messaging conveyed
  3. Conceived Identity – impression held by stakeholders and communities
  4. Ideal Identity – optimum positioning in a given timeframe
  5. Desired Identity – vision articulated by senior leadership

Corporate Branding

Branding is more than the selection of a new company name and logo. A well-defined, well-positioned, strong brand influences employees and customers to think of a company in terms of positive brand attributes: quality, trust, dependability, reliability—defined from the corporate identity. It is the reason why employees and customers feel connected to a company. Not all organizations can make it to the Top 100 Global Brand List—but all organizations face the challenge of being seen and heard through marketplace clutter. The challenge is to communicate a corporate identity and brand that resonates with your customer niche, influencing them to convert their interest into sales.

White Balls and 1 Red BallWriting a brand story starts with understanding what makes the organization unique through its corporate identity. The next step is to meld the core brand messaging creatively into persuasive, succinct, clear and consistent copy that builds a strong corporate identity and brand image. This is accomplished through an on-point brand messaging platform, copywriting and content marketing that increase sales and brand awareness.