I’ve been speaking a lot about corporate identity and corporate image lately. These are two entirely different things. So lets clear up the mess that has everyone so confused!
A corporate identity is everything that is seen that promotes the business – the logo, business stationery, brochures, website etc. This is what most people assume is a brand, but this is just the visual identity. As I like to say “Apples don’t sell computers”. The brand does that. The apple simply tells us where to buy the product and who owns the product. It’s something that we can easily recognise and identify. Ownership is a big part of branding, so it’s important to have a logo and collateral that will allow people to ‘own’ the brand. This might mean them wearing it on their chest, cap or even skin.
To help with branding a business, these elements all need to have continuity and look as though they ‘belong’ to the same company.
Maintaining the same colours, fonts and tag lines are all ways of getting your customer to recognise that it is your business. We all know the ‘NIKE’ tick, or the ‘Coca-Cola’ red. These companies have taken their corporate identity and used it to gain international recognition.
Corporate image on the other hand is how the public perceives you – this is also referred to as your brand. Simply put, your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Your brand, or your corporate image, is your reputation. It represents everything in your business. Yes your logo fits into the brand but it is not your brand. Your language, tone, culture, experience, promise, purpose, commitment, what you stand for, how you train your team and everything in between is all part of your brand.
A business might also create a corporate image or brand by the way they deal with customers or the experience they create for them. If people have to make an appointment to be seen, they will get the perceived impression that the business is busy and that their time is precious. This in turn could give the organisation a higher profile image, and in some cases make the business appear larger than it is.
Your corporate identity and image need to compliment each other to be effective.