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Corporate Identity

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We recognise business brands by their distinctive identity – given impact by colour, logos, typefaces, slogans and even sounds. Good design, thorough integration and meticulous execution, is a far better investment than a shoddy job – but which is more common?

Ten Things You Should Do

  1. Fit the identity to the company. The corporate ID should reflect the company personality – its values, its roots, its technology and culture. Corporate re-branding is a good way to signal change.
  2. Use professionals. Sorry, but someone has to tell the MD that the doodle on the napkin they brought back from the restaurant just isn’t good enough.
  3. Consider all the elements and where they will be used. Corporate identity embraces more than just logos and print. It usually includes colour, typefaces, tag lines, and often extends to the internet, buildings, signage, vehicles and staff uniforms.
  4. Think both little and large. Logos and typefaces need to work when they are tiny – as on a business card, and huge – as on the side of a truck or on an advertising hoarding.
  5. Think monochrome and colour. Not all your print will need your full colour logo, so make sure it works in mono as well so you can save some costs on invoices, data sheets, manuals and all the things that don’t have to be colour. Potentially this will save you a small fortune.
  6. Think multimedia. Images and colours will need to be reproduced on a range of media – from an embroidered badge on a uniform, through CMYK dots in print to RGB on your web site and laptop presentation. The original design must be consistent with all media.
  7. Document the standards. Maintain a set of reference standards, artworks, templates for key documents, Pantones for colour, sample typefaces, and so on, together with their digital equivalents. This way you always have a documented standard for reference in commissioning new work and monitoring projects. Large companies commonly have a complete manual. Make sure all those that the need manual, have a copy.
  8. Accept no variations. Don’t ever accept ‘this is almost like it’ from printers or anyone. If you do you are on a slippery slope that ends with your corporate ID in tatters.
  9. Protect and defend. Visual symbols, colours and distinctive shapes can all be patented. Searches done during application will prevent you infringing someone else’s identity (costly). Registration provides you with the means to defend your own.
  10. Proclaim your new identity. You need to explain to your own people, and to your customers, why you are updating your identity, what the new symbols mean and the changes this signifies. You will need a good PR company for this.

Five Things You Should Not Do

  1. Don’t tamper your own visual symbols. Never allow anyone to print your symbols in the wrong colour, in reverse, in negative, with funny lettering or in any form but the standard and approved. This is dangerous and undermines all efforts to achieve consistency and win respect.
  2. Don’t allow any encroachment on your identity. It is your intellectual property so throw off any squatter quickly.
  3. Don’t change your identity without good reason or too frequently. People get to know, recognise and value your business identifiers. Change without reason and you start again from the question ‘Who are you?’.
  4. Don’t think you can do it all in house. Just because you can access good design software, it does not mean you are a graphic designer. Use this for internal documents, but for critical design elements, strategic advice and implementation use professionals who know what they are doing.
  5. Don’t be too clever. Simple symbolism works best.

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