Corporate identity creation

When you're starting out as an entrepreneur or startup, having a corporate identity sounds a little too formal. But don't let the word put you off. It's incredibly important to think about how your business is viewed by the outside world and consciously develop an identity that has a focus.

But what exactly is a corporate identity? Is it the same as corporate design? And how do you build a strong corporate identity that serves as the basis for the sustainable success of your company? Read on to learn more about it.

What is a corporate identity?

Whenever you hear "corporate identity," you probably think of logos, letterhead, and business cards—and all of those are definitely a part of it, too. Your corporate design consists of all the things you typically associate with a company's visual identity, including logos and taglines, colors and fonts, stationery, flyers, web design, social media, and all that stuff. This includes your office furnishings, employee uniforms, and any graphics that appear on your company's cars and trucks (if you have any!).

However, a corporate identity is more than just design. It describes who you are as a company. It therefore contains the elements of corporate design on the one hand, but also your culture, your values ​​and how you communicate internally and externally.

Corporate identity is also different from brand identity. Think of a large, multinational company like Procter & Gamble: the company has a corporate identity — a logo, certain values, and a company culture — and then they have hundreds of brands under that umbrella — Gillette, Pampers, Pantene — each with their own brand identity has.

Even a smaller company with only one brand can still distinguish between the customer-facing brand and the all-encompassing corporate identity.

Why is a corporate identity important?

Whether you realize it or not, you already have a corporate identity, just like you have a brand image, whether you actively manage it or not. It's just a matter of whether you want to leave them to chance—with a logo here, a social media cover image there, and whatever else makes a big mess over time—or whether you want to create something that serves the goals of your company supported.

It's also important to look at both sides of a corporate identity: your design, yes, but also your culture and personality. If you want a cautionary tale, just look at Uber. In 2016, Uber launched a new corporate identity – remember how they replaced their old black and white “U” with two new symbols, standing for a “bit” and an “atom” (umm…right!?). In addition to drawing criticism, the new design neglected more fundamental brand perception issues along with a fractured corporate culture and unfriendly work environment, which later led to sexual harassment lawsuits . Creating a holistic corporate identity means embracing all aspects of your business—and fixing what doesn't work.

You might think all of this is too big and unnecessary for your small startup. It might seem silly to talk about "culture" when your company is just you and a co-founder, but it's far more effective (and easier) to get everything right the first time than it is to fix everything later.

Proactively building a corporate identity will:

  • ensuring that you are consistent and consistent in all your communications;
  • allow you to differentiate yourself from your competitors; and
  • help you interact effectively with customers, employees, and investors.

are you convinced now Let's take a look at what makes a good corporate identity.

What are the elements of a corporate identity?

culture and personality

Your corporate identity is more than just design: it is who you are. She is everything you stand for, inside and out. This includes…

Your vision and your purpose

It all starts with why you go to work every day and why anyone should care. As Simon Sinek so beautifully said : "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."

Companies like Patagonia, TOMS or Lush, which have a strong and authentic mission, are not only able to inspire customers but also employees to do what they do.

Your values, culture and behavior

The values ​​and culture of a company are essential when forming a corporate identity.

Google is legendary for its fun work environment and was named the company with the best culture in 2018 . But it's about more than the much-hyped ice cream vans and foosball tables and includes things like flexibility, room for creativity, shared values ​​and trust. A company's culture is embodied in its leadership (that's you!), in its strategies and actions, and in every attitude it takes.


All of the vision and purpose, your core values, your culture and your behavior must be lived by you and your team. They need to be embedded in everything you do and brought to life in your corporate design. This is where your design comes into play. Yay!

your logo

Nothing is more associated with a company than a logo. Think Nike's swoosh, McDonald's gold arches, or Coca-Cola's red lettering. When done well, it becomes a memorable symbol for your business, evoking positive emotions and representing everything you stand for. Easy right? Check out this article to learn how to design a logo .

your site

The website sits at the heart of the ecosystem of a modern business. It's the hub for all your content and product information, the place you have full control over and where most of your customers ultimately end up during their purchase.

social media

After your website, the next most important online platforms are probably your social media. Whether you're focusing on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or the newest hottest network, you want to make sure you're presenting a coherent corporate image on every channel.

packaging and merchandise

With all the excitement about stuff online, let's not forget the offline world: your packaging if you have physical products, as well as merchandise and promotional materials like mugs, flyers, pens and other great stuff. These must all fit your corporate identity and also tell a coherent story.

External corporate communications

Who writes letters anymore? Well, if you still do, you should think about your corporate design! This includes your letterhead and envelopes, "thank you" notes (those little pieces of paper used to say thank you or to add a personal touch to a gift), as well as your business cards.

More likely, you spend a lot of time creating presentation slides while trying to convince investors or partners that you're the next AirBnb or Instagram. To do this, you need a beautiful PowerPoint or Keynote template that lets you present your business professionally and consistently every time.

Office equipment, uniforms, vehicles and everything else

Many of us run online businesses, but at some point your business may grow and have a real office, or you have a team promoting an event on the street, or you need to do deliveries. Your corporate identity extends to your office or business, just as your employees and other people who represent your company present themselves.

Okay, now you know what a corporate identity is. Now how do you go about creating one for your business?

How do you develop the right corporate identity for your company?

1. Consider where you are from

You started this business for a reason, and it's important to keep that in mind as your business grows. Think about the following things:

  • What was the motivation to start your company?
  • What was your vision and purpose?
  • How did you imagine your company developing?

While the business can and should of course evolve, it will provide you with a strong foundation to have your original motivations and plans clearly in mind. It will ensure you build the business you dreamed of.

2. Find out where you stand

Before you look where you want to go, you should look at where you are today. Take a little time to answer questions like:

  • What do your existing customers think of you?
  • What do your employees think?
  • What impression are your current company materials making?

You'll likely find some positive feedback and keywords that you want to keep, but also areas that you can improve. You can take both the positive and the negative things to build your future corporate identity.

3. Look outside the company

Developing a corporate identity is a fine line between sticking to the rules and adding some variety to make you stand out. Now do some more research into who your competitors are and find out the following:

  • What can you learn about the corporate identity of your competitors?
  • What do you like and what do you not like?
  • What do you think makes one company successful and another not?

Jot down the insights you get - again the positive and negative - so you'll be aware of the difference as you create your own corporate identity.

4. Create a vision for the future

Building a corporate identity takes time, so it makes no sense to develop one for your current status. It will be obsolete before it even makes an impact! Instead, you want to see where you want your company to go, say in five years:

  • Where do you want to be with your company in five years?
  • What will your internal structure and team look like?
  • What new products and services will you release?

This look into the future will help you ensure that the corporate identity you are developing now will still be relevant in a few years. Plus, it will even help you get there.

5. Develop your corporate identity

Ta-da! We finally made it! You know where you come from, where you are today and where you want to go. You know what your competitors are up to and now you're ready to create your very own corporate identity! Don't forget that this applies to design as well as culture and personality.

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