When you hear the term Corporate Branding you probably think about multi-million dollar corporations that don’t even have to use their name as part of their logos because the brand is so recognizable. Brands like Nike and Apple come to mind.
In reality, corporate branding is so much more than just a logo; it is actually an essential strategy for any business, from a small one man show to massive corporations like those just mentioned. In this article, you will learn what corporate branding really means, why it is so important for your business and how you can develop it.
What is it?
A brand is the set of expectations that stakeholders, including employees, customers and investors, associate with a business’ products and services. At the center of every brand is a promise to consistently provide a level of service and/or quality of product stakeholders can count on. Delivering on that promise keeps customers happy and builds continued confidence in the brand.
Corporate branding is so much more than an eye-catching logo and aesthetic designs. It encompasses every expression of the brand, including customer service, quality, price point, delivery timelines and visual identity. It is the intangible part of the brand that gives it a notable identity in the minds of consumers and defines the emotional relationship between a customer and a business.
While the concept of branding is intangible, it can be concretely illustrated through visual identity. Visual identity is the part of branding that you can see and that appeals to the customer’s senses. It includes things like logo, font, color palette, templates, style of images, composition, print and digital designs, social media graphics and web design. It uses these tangible elements to tell a business’ story and engage the target audience.
Why is it important?
So why is clear corporate branding so important for all types and sizes of organizations? We have already established that branding has both tangible and intangible aspects, which communicate a company’s characteristics, values and attributes, in turn evoking feelings of trust and reliability among the target audience.
There is an emotional connection between a company and its stakeholders as brand loyalty is built and customers develop trust in the product and service offerings of the company. There is also an increased awareness of the company and its capabilities as these customers begin to recognize its visual identity and gain top of mind recall about all of the illustrations of the brand.
In order to grow a business, it is imperative to have corporate branding in place. Established brands are able to ensure new product or service launches are well received in the marketplace due to the strong corporate heritage created through prior products and services presented by the company. Recognized corporate branding also helps organizations enter new markets because the business has already created repute for itself.
A clear and consistent brand encourages its target audience to build a memory structure around who that company is and the value it offers, creating a greater ease of entrance into new markets.
How is it developed?
So how do you create robust corporate branding for your business that evokes positive feelings each time the customer is exposed to a touchpoint like branded emails, PowerPoint presentations, ads, social media posts, signs, trade show booths, printed and digital marketing collateral, client gifts and promotional giveaways? These seven simple steps can help you establish a corporate branding strategy that will do just that.
- Assess your current brand.
Start by auditing your business’ existing brand. Examine the current brand messaging, visual identity, website look and feel, print & digital collateral, etc. You should also review the brands of competitors and determine what is working well for them and what is not. Then you need to evaluate what works well in your own business and what doesn’t. Decide which elements of your branding to keep and those to eliminate.
- Determine your brand’s exclusive promise.
Remember this promise is your organization’s pledge to always maintain an established level of service and/or quality of products. Gather the leaders of your organization to discuss exactly what your company stands for: clearly define your vision, mission and values; identify your target customer and edit your products and services listing. Company leadership must understand the nature of the brand, underlying business philosophies, overall objectives and the ideal customer in order to develop and promote brand messaging.
- Determine your brand positioning.
Brand positioning is how the brand is perceived in the context of competitive alternatives. Take a look at your target market and decide if you want to position the brand as luxury, mid-level or affordable. This is also the time to craft your unique selling proposition to distinguish what makes you stand out from the competition.
- Develop your messaging.
Use the clear vision, mission, values, target audience and product/services listing you defined in Step 2, along with the brand positioning and unique selling proposition you adopted in step 3, to develop your key messaging. Make sure the overall messages are consistent, clear and relevant to your target audience. Your goal here is to emotionally connect with that audience. These key messages should convince stakeholders to believe in the superiority of your products and services and trust your brand implicitly.
The best way to communicate this messaging is through compelling and memorable storytelling. You must build a brand story that motivates customers, builds emotional connection and identifies your organization’s unique characteristics.
- Construct a visual identity.
At this point, you need to take the key messages and brand story you have created and narrow it down to a unified vision identity that can be represented with a logo, tagline, color palette and design templates. This may mean updating existing visual identity or recreating it from scratch in order to best represent the company’s mission, key messages and promise of deliverables. It is also important to choose visuals that ensure quick registration and produce a strong recall factor, as well as giving evoking the same feelings of trust and loyalty as the key messaging.
- Assemble a Brand Standards Guide.
Once your messaging and visual identity is in place, you need to develop a brand standards guide to implement and enforce the brand. This guide should explain in detail how your brand should be visually represented, including color, fonts and how to use the logo in a variety of situations, like on a black or white background, in full color or in black and white.
Once the guide has been created, you must use it to train and empower employees at every level to become brand ambassadors. Educate them in the brands key messaging and how to talk about the brand. Make sure the staff is fully aware of the brand guidelines and understands exactly how to follow them.
- Advance brand recognition.
Finally, you want to utilize your corporate branding in every touchpoint you have with your customers, from social media posts to in person interactions. You should identify and participate in events and sponsorship opportunities that are in line with your brand and will provide an opportunity to make the brand more visible to the target audience.
If you need assistance with any of the elements of developing, implementing and managing your corporate branding, Glow Branding Solutions can help. We will work with you to recognize your assets, identify what differentiates you from your competition, clarify your target audience and develop visual identity components to match your values, mission and vision. We are proficient in creating brand stories that capture engagement, provide winning narratives and build emotional connection. All your communications will stay on brand and shape your reputation of high value and unique offerings. Our understanding of performance metrics and brand analytics enable us to regularly measure brand performance and suggest adjustments as needed.
Contact us today for help with all your corporate branding needs!