Not having a corporate identity as a company means missing a huge opportunity, because with a corporate identity every company becomes much more recognizable for important target groups such as new customers.
A corporate identity represents and reflects a company’s unique product, differentiated market position, service or mission. There are different ways how a company can represent itself.
First of all, there is the visual presentation of a company. When a company has a logo, fixed colors and a corporate typeface which are consistently placed on all the different marketing-tools, a company gets recognizable. The choice in marketing-tools is indefinite. Well-known examples are business cards, stationary, envelopes, brochures and of course the website(s). But there is more about corporate identity then just the visual identities.
Human behaviour (of the employees) is in a certain way also a presentation of a company. Think about how the telephone is being answered, standard procedure at complaint settlements and even the way how employees park their car when meeting a customer can be seen as components of a company’s corporate identity. So it’s not only the looks, but also the feel.
Why does a Company needs a Corporate Identity?
Using a professional and consistent corporate identity has a number of important advantages:
- In an overcrowded market place professional graphic design is very important in letting a company stand out from the competition, creating an corporate image for all important target groups, such as: prospect, existing customers, subcontractors and potential employees.
- A company logo or printed marketing materials often provide a first impression of a business – make sure this is a good one, and follow it up with a unified, cohesive look and feel that effectively conveys the essence of the company.
- A professional corporate identity makes both customers’ and prospects’ confidence grow. Faith in a company, a better presentation and a better company efficiency is the result.
Therefore a good professional corporate identity will pay back its initial costs.
What is a professional Corporate Identity?
A corporate identity is mainly the visible identity of a company. Just think about the well-known logo of Nike. What has a ‘swoosh’-symbol in common with sport? Completely nothing, but still everyone knows which brand belongs to this symbol.
Consider how many ways there are to show your corporate identity, it speaks for itself that business cards and stationary should be designed according to the corporate identity guidelines, but there are still much more possibilities. Print the company logo on the front and the back of the company clothing, or on the sides of the company car, ever thought of printing a company logo on coffee cups or candy-wrappers which are used in a company?
Of course specific and technical requirements are put to the different components of a corporate identity. A logo must be useful for all of the company’s marketing-tools: It should look good on paper, screen as well on company clothing or on the company’s truck, a corporate identity should be applicable on several formats. A website has it specific demands for e.g. the typeface a company uses, can this corporate typeface be implemented in the web-typography?
Who makes a professional Corporate Identity?
If you want a (graphic) design company to design your corporate identity, you must take a number of important matters into account. How do you find the correct party to cooperate with?
Check the websites of several design companies or designers to see for what clients they have worked for and what they have designed. It could be an advantage that a designer has gained already experience in the same line of business. Flexibility should be a designer’s second name, rapidly anticipating to the clients’ wishes. This is very important during, but especially after the development of the corporate identity when new marketing-tools will be needed.
Personal preferences will always play a big role. Clients always will want to ascertain themselves whether the approach of a designer is appropriate for their company.
Tip for the client: If you find it hard to make a decision, ask your ‘colleague entrepreneurs’ if they can recommend you some design studio’s or designers.
Important phases during the design
A designer needs to fully understand the company strategy, goals, message, etc., so a lot of information about the company is needed to design a suitable and professional corporate identity. This information is called the design brief.
The Design Brief
Some important components of this document are:
- Distinctive/unique character of the company (what makes you unique in comparison to your competitors ~ USP’s: unique selling points)
- The products or service that the company offers
- A description of the market in which the company is active (target market).
More information about the components of a design brief you can find in an earlier article here, on the gonzoblog.nl: How to write a professional Design Brief
The briefing phase is of vital importance. Entrepreneurs mostly don’t spend too much time on this aspect and give designers a ‘carte blanche’, because they are too busy. “Make something beautiful” is therefore a much-heard remark in the graphic industry ;-P
Fact: Every designer delivers better work if he/she gets sufficient input, only than a designer can really get the company’s message across.
The conceptual phase
Based on the information from the design brief, and other company wishes, a designer develops a first concept for the corporate identity.
Always agree on a amount of proposals for e.g. the company’s logo so you have a good choice in narrowing down to a definite concept. In this phase the input of the client is essential, but always keep in mind that a corporate identity is made for the target audience of the company and not for the client alone.
Indication of Price
The price for a corporate identity strongly depends on the amount of graphic items needed by the client. There are agencies or designers who offer their services for several hundred euros. But what can you expect from them?
In general a good and professional corporate identity will cost about 1.500 – 5.000 euros (this price is for a ‘standard’ package consisting of a logo, business cards, stationary, envelopes and a brochure – without a website).
For this amount of money you know you’ll get a design agency or designer that really takes the time for you, makes several unique proposals (no clip-art), is experienced in Brand Identity, Graphic Design and marketing strategy, and will go through the preliminary phase of a corporate identity (‘defining shape and designing costs’).
Always make good Agreements
Be sure to make good agreements concerning the services offered (specification of work) and the price, and make sure these agreements are written down in the contract.
There are designers and agencies that work with a fixed price for a total corporate identity project, but there also are designers or agencies that work on an hourly rate. Is the price including production costs and printwork? What does a designer cost per hour and what’s the moment his/her meter starts running?
How crazy it may sound, but a corporate identity is not automatically the property of the client, even when payed the total price. Strictly spoken, the client only has the user-rights for the designed corporate identity (this is common European Law), the copyright still remains property of the designer.
Tip: A manner to exclude conflicts is to purchase the copyright, make sure to include this in the contract, otherwise the copyright of the corporate identity remains property of the designer or the agency responsible for the design.