You may have heard designers or marketing consultants using the terms corporate image and corporate identity. But what do they mean and what is the difference?
It’s quite simple really. Corporate identity is something you can control. It is your branding and design style. It is what people see when they get your business card or letterhead. It is what they are greeted with when they see your signage or main entrance. It is how you control the way your branding is used across your company. It is important to have strict guidelines for using your logo and to apply this to everything you do. A brand style guide can be created to help you achieve this. This will address how your stationery and sales material should use the branding so your company achieves consistency and strength across all material used. The objective is to ensure all your material presents the same professional look and feel whenever it is seen by a customer. You want your branding to be instantly recognised by people no matter what it is they see. If they see one of your vehicles out on the roads they should instantly recognise it as one of yours. If they see a poster or leaflet it should have the same branding style as your vehicles. This is how you build brand recognition and awareness.
This leads to corporate image. Corporate image is what your customers or audience take from seeing your branding. It is their own perception of what you are presenting to them. You do not control this. If your company presents an amateurish image to people this is the image they will have of your business. If you have menus on cheap photocopied paper, this creates an image of ‘cheap’ with customers. If you have nicely designed and printed menus (as you should) this will give your customers a more professional corporate image of your business. Similarly if your reception area is dirty and has poor decor with holes in your carpet this will present a very poor image to your customers. If it is clean and decorated brightly with a hint of your corporate branding this will look very professional and impress your customers.
So there you have it. You can control your corporate identity, your branding and how your business looks when it is presented to your customers. But they will take with them a corporate image of your company whether you like it or not. So make sure you give them the right image.