The term ‘corporate identity’ is used with such frequency it is sometimes easy to underestimate how important it is. In fact, it is a company’s most valuable asset. Without a strong corporate identity to differentiate it and build trust with key stakeholders, many other attributes a company has would be severely diminished. Here we look at how to navigate the common issues companies face when implementing their corporate identity in document production.
The importance of corporate identity
Corporate identity encompasses a company’s vision, values, and purpose and the way these are portrayed to its key stakeholders. Within the company, corporate identity motivates and drives employee and management’s loyalty. Externally, a strong corporate identity differentiates the company and helps to build recognition, trust and loyalty with key stakeholders such as existing and potential customers and investors, potential employees, regulators, suppliers, and the media.
The way audiences respond depends largely on how a company communicates with them. Stakeholders continuously scrutinise and assess a company’s behaviour; effective communication is crucial to creating a positive impression. This extends from its ESG performance and the critical insight into the company’s ethics and management capabilities this provides to the timeliness and efficiency of day-to-day customer correspondence. Every interaction creates or reinforces a feeling about the company. Over time, recipients’ emotional responses become intrinsically associated with the visual aspect of these communications.
This is because every online and offline document a company sends out displays its visual corporate identity, and the range of documents is extensive: press releases, reports, brochures, letters, memos, website design, stationery, statements, application forms, blogs, white papers, presentations, emails, advertisements, pre-and post-sales material, business cards, and event collateral. The constant and consistent projection of the visual identity encourages awareness and recognition and, in time, will foster associations and emotional responses that will form the basis of a lasting relationship with audiences.
The visual identity conveys how a company wishes to be perceived and remembered by its key audiences. It represents the company’s brand promise and unique personality and requires a design that embodies these in a way that target audiences can relate to and helps to identify and differentiate the company. Designing the corporate identity involves creating visual elements such as logos, fonts, colours, photography, graphics, illustrations, and icons, and how these are sized, positioned, and used together.
A strong visual corporate identity does not happen by chance. Detailed and thoughtful planning goes into its creation and implementation, which can take considerable time and money. Successful implementation requires commitment from senior management and buy-in from employees. A clear understanding of target audiences, their expectations, and motivations is essential for an empathetic and strategic design, which must also reflect how employees perceive the company they represent. The identity must be sufficiently practical and functional to be applied consistently, without diminution of quality, across every document that emanates from the company.
Carefully managed implementation of the approved corporate identity is critical to realising the full value it affords the company. However, companies commonly face several issues during implementation, which we will look at below.
Common problems of implementing corporate identity
Many common problems of implementation have to do with poor identity management. Some of these are systemic issues of not having the control and support processes in place to properly manage implementation. Not having authorised identity ‘champions’ to boost commitment and provide guidance for end-users is a common issue. Poor communication and coordination between departments involved in implementation, for instance, IT, marketing, and graphic design is another hindrance to implementation.
A lack of control over how the visual identity is being used and what is being sent out from the company can harm the integrity of the corporate identity and seriously damage the reputation of the company. Several factors can compound this problem: many companies employ a remote workforce because of post-COVID hybrid work arrangements, or their workforce is spread across offices in multiple national or global territories, often with a degree of local autonomy. Many companies use third parties or intermediaries to sell their services and products. This makes controlling documentation sent out in the company’s name more difficult.
This issue is exacerbated if end-users do not have easy and quick access to accurate and up-to-date material. This is particularly critical for customer-facing employees in sales, marketing, customer service and account management who need to react quickly to market opportunities as they arise. A business opportunity can be lost if they must wait for documents to be created or updated, especially if there is a queue for a central design resource or to have content approved by multiple reviewers making conflicting changes. The likelihood is that they will use material they have at hand, often stored on local drives, even if the visual identity is inaccurate and out of date. This can lead to a serious compliance issue if, for instance, legal disclaimers are out-of-date.
Documents sent out with inaccurate visual identity reflect negatively on the company. Incorrect colours and fonts, wrongly sized and positioned graphics and logos, or inconsistent tone or standards of language give the impression the company is unprofessional with poor attention to detail. If this happens persistently, the identity will be diluted, which can have disastrous longer-term consequences: confusion of identity, reduced recognition, erosion of trust, diminished loyalty, and, ultimately, lost business.
There are several solutions that help companies navigate the issues surrounding corporate identity implementation.
A Digital Asset Management (DAM) system provides a secure place for marketing teams to store and organise approved digital assets of the corporate identity, which can be accessed easily by authorised users. A DAM is often used in conjunction with smart Artwork Templates that can be made available to employees throughout the company. Artwork Templates can be created for every type of document. They lock the corporate identity and approved content so they cannot be changed, but users can personalise and customise designated areas of documents to make them audience-specific. Artwork templates allow customer-facing employees to react quickly to opportunities while protecting the corporate identity.
The most efficient Artwork Templates include approval workflows that enable multiple reviewers to approve the amendable content simultaneously in real-time. These speed up the approval process and reduce conflicting changes. They also include the automatic capture of audit trails and version control for regulatory purposes.
Artwork Templates with approval workflows provide a highly effective corporate identity implementation solution. When these are integrated into a single platform, efficiency, scalability and management control increase further. The risk of identity dilution or lost business opportunities is substantially reduced.
Perivan has great experience in corporate identity implementation and management. Our platform, Enable, provides access to smart Artwork Templates and workflows and manages content creation, approval and distribution from one central platform. If you would like to see how Enable can help with your content management requirements, or if you would like to discuss your corporate identity with our design team, please get in touch.