March 9, 2014
Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re developing an identity for a company, division, department or agency.
- Every company has an identity; only some choose to manage it. People will form an opinion of your company whether you work at shaping perceptions or not. If you take the initiative, it’s far more likely that those perceptions will be positive.
- Corporate identity is an expression of difference. What’s yours? Before doing anything, define what it is that makes you different. If your identity says nothing different about you, why should people choose you?
- Treat your identity with respect—it’s a valuable asset. Its essential components—your name, its graphical expression, and the way it’s expressed and implemented—can build internal and external belief in your approach, products and services. Getting it wrong can be costly.
- Involve the Board of Directors in strategic identity decisions. An identity that isn’t managed firmly, proactively and consistently with your company’s core strategy can drift, or even work against your efforts to move the company forward. A company’s identity is a Board-level issue.
- Check regularly to ensure that the identity is in line with your company’s positioning and personality. If you’re unclear about your company’s positioning, it needs to be defined.
- Control the core of the visual identity—name, logo and colors—rigorously. There may still be room for flexibility—for example, with local imagery—but if your people don’t understand your company’s personality, positioning and philosophy, they won’t be able to get the basics right.
- Don’t compromise on quality. Just as your own identity defines who you are, your company’s identity is the clearest indication to others of its aims, attitudes and aspirations. It’s the only thing that your customers, shareholders and employees see continually. If created and implemented with sound research and methodology, it will last you years, and grow into a positive marketing force for the company. You may only revisit your identity every several years; in the eyes of others, a change in identity signifies change and will be judged, for better or worse. Don’t cut corners.
- Remember that the incremental cost of an identity program is minimal. You pay for the cost of stationery, forms, signs, and vehicles anyway. You may as well pay marginally more to send out a strong message about your company.
- Don’t rely on a company manual to control the identity—managing identity is a people issue. A new suit doesn’t change the person; a new visual identity will only succeed if your employees believe in it, and live its values. For this, your identity needs to be clearly and effectively communicated.
- Good identity management doesn’t just happen—it needs constant attention. Make identity part of someone’s job.