Corporate branding: What it is and why you need it
Corporate branding encompasses many disciplines. We'll show you why you need it and how to get it done
What do people think of when they think of your brand? What emotions does it evoke? What values and principles do they associate with it? If you have a hard time answering this question, you need to put some thought into your corporate branding.
What is corporate branding?
Corporate branding is far more than just a logo and a name. It's an entire set of ideals that defines your company. It's your corporate identity.
When people see your logo or your company's name, it should communicate the values they associate with your brand. It should stir an emotional connection. In other words, the simple mention of your name should speak volumes.
This isn't easy to accomplish, and successful companies have put years of work into establishing their brands. Before you can get to work building your own brand, you should understand the various elements that will form your company's identity.
The elements of corporate branding
Corporate branding ranges across a variety of disciplines. It should encompass your brand's look, feel, mission and voice.
Visual corporate branding and graphic design
The most obvious element of branding to get right is your brand's visual identity. Your brand's logo and design will be the first impression you make on most potential customers.
Statistics show the importance of visual branding. According to Fit Small Business, a signature color can increase brand recognition by 80%.
Your visual branding starts with your logo. You can read all about why great logo design is important in our guide, but in short, your logo is your brand's introduction to potential customers. It should be simple, memorable and timeless.
Following on from your logo should be the rest of your brand's visual guidelines. You'll need to decide the colors that will be associated with your brand and the fonts you'll use on your website and in your marketing materials. And, above all, you'll need to be consistent. Your brand will need to develop a visual style guide and adhere to it across every platform where your brand is visible.
A corporate tagline is a short phrase that encapsulates what your brand stands for. Think McDonald's use of "I'm Lovin' It," or Apple's "Think Different." It's a shorthand way to communicate your brand's identity. It should instantly evoke your brand in the minds of your customers, even if they hear or see it independently of your logo or business name.
While your brand could have a number of different slogans for individual products or marketing campaigns, it should only have one tagline. Your tagline should be short, memorable and convey something about your business, either practically or emotionally.
The type of tagline you use will depend on the type of customer you're after. If you're a B2C brand, you may want to focus more on forming an emotional connection through your tagline. If you're a B2B company, you may want to focus more on the benefits your product or service delivers to your clients.
Either way, your tagline should communicate something meaningful about your brand. Moreover, just like your visual branding, it should be used consistently.
Your brand voice is the way your brand speaks to consumers over any platform. One way to think of brand voice is, if your brand was a person, its voice would be its personality.
Brand voice will dictate how you communicate across social media, through your advertising and marketing materials, through your website and blog; anywhere your brand is represented through words, it should have a consistent voice.
Your brand voice should be conversational, informal and approachable. Though many different people may be producing written copy for your brand across many different platforms, it should feel to consumers as though one person is speaking to them.
Your brand values are the cornerstone of your entire brand identity. They should inform every part of your corporate branding. Regardless of how your service or product offerings may change throughout your company's existence, your brand values should remain the same.
Brand values are the inviolable guiding principles by which your company operates. They're the north star metrics that define why your company does what it does, and the way it goes about doing it. They're your ideology.
Good brand values statements should be clearly defined, memorable and actionable. They should communicate your company's deepest beliefs and the animating ideals behind the way you operate.
While your brand values should be accessible to consumers, they aren't necessarily a part of your corporate branding you'll actively advertise. Rather, they form the hub from which every other part of your corporate branding radiates.
Why is corporate branding important?
With so many elements involved in corporate branding, it can be intimidating to consider devoting resources to it. But investing in corporate branding delivers some serious dividends. Let's take a look at some of the numbers.
Corporate branding by the numbers
- Consistent branding across all channels increases revenue by 23%. Source: www.tuorolaw.edu
- 82% of investors say brand strength is an important factor in their investment decisions. Source: Pitchbook
- Consumers with an emotional connection to a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value. Source: Access Development
- 90% of users expect a company to have the same branding across all platforms and channels. Source: New Jersey Institute of Technology
- 48% of consumers say the most critical time to gain their loyalty is when they make their first purchase. Source: Bop Design
- Less than 10% of B2B companies say their branding is very consistent. Source: Demand Metric
- 77% of consumers make a purchase based on a brand name. Source: Time Magazine
- Companies with a strong brand see a 43% decrease in hiring costs. Source: LinkedIn
- Color increases brand recognition by up to 80%. Source: Bop Design
- 52% of consumers said they have chosen not to buy from a company because of bad brand aesthetics. Source: Vennage
The statistics above clearly show the value of corporate branding, but let's explore some of the broad benefits it can deliver to your company.
Corporate branding gives you recognition
Corporate branding puts your company at the forefront of public consciousness. A well-developed brand does advertising for you. It means consumers are constantly aware of your products and services. The more brand recognition you have, the easier your marketing efforts become (assuming, of course, consumers perceive your brand positively).
Corporate branding creates stickier customers
Good corporate branding keeps customers coming back and buying from you. According to Fundera, 43% of US customers say they spend more with the brands and companies they're loyal to. Further to this, 84% say they're loyal to specific retailers and 82% say they're loyal to specific products.
Corporate branding helps you make decisions
When your company is faced with difficult decisions, corporate branding can be a guide. You'll be able to identify which actions uphold your brand values and which violate them, what new products or services fit within your corporate identity and which marketing campaigns resonate with your brand voice.
Corporate branding unifies your team
Having a consistent visual style, a consistent voice and inviolable brand values helps align your team behind your company's goals. It makes sure everyone in your company understands the mission, and that everything they do reinforces your brand's identity.
Corporate branding has intrinsic value
But corporate branding doesn't just deliver abstract benefits. Good branding actually has its own intrinsic value. You can see in the table below the 10 most valuable brands in the world in 2019. For each of them, the BrandZ survey has calculated the dollar value that their branding adds to their business.
The world's 10 most valuable brands
|Rank||Brand||Brand value ($m)|
Good corporate branding adds value to your company. And if you're a startup, it's value potential investors will take into account. Putting resources into corporate branding delivers a serious return on investment.
How do I get good corporate branding?
Understanding the necessity of corporate branding is one thing, but actually achieving it is entirely different. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can follow to build your corporate brand.
Talk to your organization
Your corporate branding should begin with your team. Communicate with the members of your organization and decide what's important to you as a company. What are the principles for which you'd like to be known? This will help you craft your brand values. Try to narrow them down to 5–7 key statements. As we've said before, this will be the foundation upon which your entire corporate branding is built.
Get expert help
While your brand values should come from within the organization, you may want to turn to experts to help with other areas of your corporate branding.
Graphic design for visual corporate branding
A good graphic designer can help build both a logo and a visual stylebook for your company to follow. They can help you build a collection of visual assets and marketing materials, as well as rules for future design to follow.
If you're just starting your business, you may not have the capacity to hire a full-time graphic designer. Consider using the services of a freelance graphic designer to build your company's visual guidelines. That way if your company does reach a size where hiring a full-time in-house designer makes sense, you'll already have a well-defined visual style.
Writing for brand voice
A talented freelance writer can help you develop guidelines for brand voice in the same way a graphic designer can help you develop visual guidelines.
One way to develop your brand voice and market yourself to new clients is to start a company blog. Your company blog can establish your brand voice, and this can extend to all your other marketing materials.
Marketing that supports brand identity
Writing and design will come together to help you build marketing campaigns that align with your corporate branding. You'll need to make sure all your marketing reflects your corporate branding. This includes social media marketing, your email marketing and your advertising.
You'll also need to ensure the way you engage with your customers both online and offline aligns with your corporate branding. This means hiring a customer service staff that understands and adheres to your brand values, and engaging with your audience on social media using your proper brand voice and in a way that reflects your values.
Every touchpoint consumers have with your business should reflect your corporate branding. Yes, it's a big task. But remaining consistent in your corporate branding could help embed your brand in the consciousness of your consumers. And that result is well worth the effort.