What is Corporate Identity and how does it differ from Brand Identity? Are these identities important and if so, where should you begin?
When starting a business or developing a brand, it is wise to think back on what you have learned over the years. Think back to the knowledge you have retained that has brought you to the point of action. What recipe has been pieced together from personal experience that will now form the foundation of a business or brand? In my time as General Manager of Lightning Brokers, I met with countless companies seeking representation. It became evident that the most common mistake made by new businesses was that of an identity issue.
Rick Talbot, my good friend and former executive of Proctor and Gamble, would always say that nine out of every 10 products will fail. I can tell you from experience that the one that made it wasn’t the one with the best quality or price. The one that made it, was the one that understood their role in the “go to market” process. Part of our responsibility as “the broker” was to ensure the brand/s were accessible to retailers, represented at store level and presented to major retailers; to name a few. While the responsibility of the client was to focus on product development, pricing and consumer engagement.
Suppose a broker was able to achieve 100% distribution based on their relationships with stores. If the product had no identity within the industry or greater target market, how long do you think the product would last? In my experience, it wouldn’t be long before stores discounted the product out to make way for other performing lines.
Corporate Identity vs Brand Identity:
Rather than dissecting the definitions of identity, I would prefer to look at the reasons why each is necessary. In almost all markets, there are layers. If I was to use the pharmacy industry as an example we could say that consumers buy from retailers, then these retailers are usually affiliated with a retail banner, and finally, these banners often deal with brokers who work on behalf of their clients. This example is not always the same but is in my experience, the most common. Thus, if you want to be successful, ensure that your company/brand has an identity that is marketable throughout each step of the sales process. Understanding your sales process is essential if you want to tailor your image.
Most would argue that the corporate identity is simply the physical look you have created for your business/brand. A system of similarities across your logo, website, business cards and media platforms that gives you a specific image. Although very important, these systems have more to do with brand identity than your corporate presence. Does a category manager at a major retail banner only review the image of your branding? Or is their ranging verdict subject to their experience with your brand?
Some important identity basics include price, product, people, communication, data, and image. These are important because they define not only your look but also who you are and how you do business. Thus, know your market, understand your sales process and design your corporate identity so your basic framework is set up. This will ensure your corporate connections receive a clear and concise experience.
Yet, brand identity is more to do with how you want your brand/business to be seen. Less about the details and more about the perception. This will obviously add to the experience and acceptance by all parties involved in the sales process but is targeted to gain the attention of the end consumer. Here is where you focus on the values, benefits and culture you wish to communicate. A brand may have an amazing logo but it will be the efforts attributed to marketing that will ensure recognition. Taking it a step further, effective marketing will not only ensure the logo is recognised but will also create an experience for the consumer that reflects the desired emotions projected. If you can effectively communicate feelings such as trust, quality and value, you have created brand identity.
The Results of Effective Identity:
Although there are many things to consider when creating true identity, it is best to think of it as a process. Learn your market, understand the sales process and start from the beginning. Let’s revert back to the pharmacy sales process mentioned earlier. Ensure you have all the corporate basics needed to take the first step and then approach a broker.
If the broker and sales team have a good experience with the brand they are more likely to be successful acquiring retailers. The broker will also have the confidence to present your products to retail banners. From here, ramp up efforts to communicate brand identity so that your products sell through at store level and retailers are happy. If this is achieved, not only has the goal of selling product become a reality, but everyone throughout the sales process had a positive experience with your brand.
Now you have a true identity.