Corporate Identity – Explained

What your customers or potential customers think about your company reflects the impression they have in their minds about your company. This impression is created by your product positioning, client servicing, your attitude towards customers and society in general, your marketing campaigns, third party sources such as newspaper articles etc. This impression is called corporate identity.

While the corporate logo helps people remember the company it stands for, it does not help in creating an identity for your company. It is your actions and your conduct as a company which decides how you are perceived.

Take the case of Tata, the Indian corporate powerhouse and Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest producer of steel controlled by billionaire Laxmi Niwas Mittal. Both Tatas and Mittals were involved in high profile mergers. While Mittal took over steel behemoth Arcelor, Tata bought Ford’s two premium luxury auto brands – Jaguar and Land Rover. But where as the takeover of Arcelor by Mittals was bitterly opposed by the company’s labor unions and even some political parties, the Tatas’ story was that of smooth transition. In fact Tata were recommended by the labor unions.

Why this difference particularly when Mittal’s are a well known success story in UK while Tata’s till recently were relatively unknown entity there. The Tata corporate house came into the limelight only after it bought Tetley.

The difference actually lies in the manner in which the two corporate houses are perceived by people. The Tatas are renowned for their social responsibility and values, where as Mittals were viewed as ruthless operators who can go to any lengths to cut costs.

Clearly, corporate identity has a major role to play in strategic matters. Let’s now discuss it…

Corporate identity

Corporate identity is reflection of what a company is and how it is perceived by outsiders. It is the set of values and principles held by the firm. It is also the way these values are communicated – whether verbally, in writing, visually in the form of marketing and third party media, or graphically as corporate logo and brand colors. All these elements together project the image of the corporation – its corporate identity.

If crafted and communicated well with help from reputed branding firms specializing in branding corporate identity, the corporate identity gives life to the company’s brand equity, its marketing initiatives and its range of products or services offered.

Not just that, a well crafted and well communicated corporate identity wins you loyal customers. It provides the much desired niche for your products or services. And if Tata’s case is anything to go by, it goes a long way in winning you partners that relate to the aspirations articulated by the identity.

Effectively, your marketing costs come down drastically if your target customers know about you – did you notice Microsoft hardly ever needs to advertise itself?

Building corporate identity

The following five points are keys to successfully build and manage your corporate identity:

1. Project the personality of the corporation:

This projection should be authentic and believable, and it should reflect in the daily conduct. Take the case of Starbucks – they claim to be environmentally conscious and their corporate practices actually are.

2. It should be spontaneous.

If McDonald’s project themselves as a fun place to have a snack, their mascot actually looks like he is having pots of fun. This example buttresses the need for messages, logos, mascots, even products or services taking cue from the established corporate identity.

3. Go back to the drawing board:

Don’t imitate. You as a company are unique. Go to the drawing board, unlearn all the things that are already out there, find your uniqueness and go all out to communicate that uniqueness.


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