Corporate Branding: What It Is & How to Do It Right [In 2021]

Corporate Branding: What It Is & How to Do It Right [In 2021]
Masooma Memon

Written by:
Masooma Memon

Dec 24, 2020

Wondering how you can build a brand identity that separates you from competition?

In this guide, you’ll learn what corporate branding is and how to build your own corporate brand as a way to stand out and make a difference.

We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get started.

 

Table of Contents

What is Corporate Branding?

How to Build a Corporate Brand Identity

3 Examples of Corporate Branding

 

What is Corporate Branding?

Before we dive into the corporate branding definition, let’s get this straight: people no longer want to buy from businesses — ones that bring a suited booted, corporate image to mind.

Instead, they want to buy from people, which is where corporate branding comes into play as it showcases your business’s personality or human side.

Your brand identity reflects what you stand for as a business, your mission and who you serve. In short, it’s the brand image that comes to people’s minds when they think of you.

But here’s the thing: your corporate identity is not just your logo. Instead, it shows by:

  • Your visual identity
  • Brand voice
  • Messaging

The goal behind all this? To deliver a remarkable customer experience, which can do wonders. Hard to believe? Take this: 86% of buyers are happy to pay more for great customer experience.

Let’s back this up with an example. Think of Glossier, the beauty brand that’s all for “no makeup” skincare and makeup products.

To showcase their values, Glossier has built a strong brand identity that’s minimalist as evident from their web design, product packaging and social media as well.

Let’s zoom in a bit here and look at three pointers that form the backbone of corporate branding:

 

1. Corporate branding requires planning.

It’s not a thoughtless, random hotchpotch of colors, fonts and brand voice.

See how Glossier has a two-tone color palette and simple fonts as part of their corporate brand. Such a visual identity not only reflects minimalism, but also aligns with the taste of Glossier’s target audience (on-the-go New Yorker who is effortlessly cool).

 

2. Remember, consistency is key.

You can see that Glossier's social media, website, product packaging and more all use the same visual identity.

In short, a consistent brand is consistent in their print collateral as well as throughout the digital marketing channels and marketing campaigns.

The visual identity, brand voice and messaging all need to be the same to build a solid brand image in your target audience’s mind.

 

3. It's not about you, it’s about your target audience.

Didn’t we just discuss that Glossier’s minimalist theme is inspired by their busy yet graceful target audience?

The reason behind this is simple: the more your brand identity meets your audience’s tastes and interests, the better your brand will resonate with your target users.

Put simply, you’ve got to work with a brand strategy that lays out your corporate identity — one that all your employees and departments (not just the marketers) use.

Also, make sure this corporate branding strategy pleases your audience, not the stakeholders.

Lastly, stick with your brand identity. That’s how you’ll leave a memorable impression.

 

How to Build a Corporate Brand Identity

It’s easy to assume you need to hire a corporate branding agency to get started with developing a unique brand image.

But, the truth is: you don’t really need to avail corporate branding services to develop your corporate identity. If you are pressed for time or resources or aren’t ready to pass the task to someone new, you can do it all yourself.

You’ll need lots of coffee, several brainstorming sessions, a magnifying glass to understand your competitors and target audience. And, you'll need a DIY design tool like Visme.

Ready to get started with creating a strong brand? Follow the steps below and you’ll have a powerful corporate brand in no time.

 

Step 1: Outline your company’s mission, values and objectives.

Yes, you already know what your company’s brand is about. But do your employees know exactly what the business stands for?

In this first step, you’ll do the groundwork by getting everyone on the same page.

Whether you’re a small business or a large corporate entity, you need to make your objectives, mission and what you stand for crystal clear.

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Why? Because this is going to be the first step in developing a consistent brand image that not only marketers portray in their marketing campaigns, but the sales and customer service teams also reflect in their communication.

 

Step 2: Define your target audience.

While the first step was about what you stand for, this step is about who you stand for.

Knowing your potential customers is crucial for attracting them and sharing their interests. The more you know your target audience, the better you’d be able to create loyalty.

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Take Dove, for instance.

They stand for supporting women. And, they are inclusive with their messaging instead of serving only fit, flawless women that exist mainly in magazines.

Know how they subtly show this?

Here’s just one trick from their corporate branding book: they’ve developed soap bottles in different shapes showing different body types.

Put all your findings including your buyer persona, mission, values and objectives in visually appealing charts. This will help you hit two birds with one stone.

One, everyone can see the charts without having to cringe at wordy documents that would otherwise host all this important information.

Two, this brand strategy raw material will remain front and center of the entire branding process, helping you develop an identity that mirrors your values and potential customers’ interests.

Not sure how to make these charts? Pull out a template from Visme’s bank:

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

 

Step 3: Conduct a brand audit.

Now’s the part when you review all that you have.

With the research you’ve done in the prior steps, you’re in a strong position to understand how well your present corporate identity is doing and what you can do to make it better appeal to your target customers.

Ask yourself:

  • Does your brand image showcase what you stand for and your objectives?
  • Is your corporate identity human enough? Put another way, does it have a personality and a voice?
  • Does your brand voice and personality speak to your target audience? Does it align with their interests?

Since you can be biased while answering these questions, consider asking your employees and customers. A good ol’ survey can help you learn their thoughts.

Ask them things like:

  • What comes to your mind when you think of our business?
  • Who else do you think is doing great with their marketing?
  • Would you buy from a competitor? Why?
  • What do you think we can improve about our corporate image?
  • How would you rate your experience buying from our business?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improving our business?

Once done, compile all the answers into a template so you can see the big picture — what needs work, what isn’t working and so on. Again, Visme can help.

Use this template to visualize findings from your surveys:

Customize this survey template and make it your own!Edit and Download

You can also conduct a SWOT analysis — a study of your brand's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

A SWOT analysis can show you what your business is good at and where it lacks, which can help you focus on the right aspects and find your competitive advantage.

Use the following template to put together a SWOT analysis:

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

And while you’re at it, study your competitors as well.

See what makes them different, how consistent are they in their branding, which marketing channels do they use, what do customers say about them.

Read reviews or listen to what folks say about them on social media, analyze their marketing campaigns and more.

Once you've done your research, put the results here:

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

All this can help you understand what you need to do to be different and better.

You can also put all your research in one place and share with your colleagues and management in the form of a brand audit document.

Customize this Visme brand audit template to create a professional document. It has everything you need, from a mind map for recording your brainstorming sessions to pages for SWOT analysis and competitive analysis.

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

 

Step 4: Settle on your differentiation point.

Your USP, or unique selling point, is a particular benefit that helps make your brand stand out and differentiate itself from the sea of competitors.

Clearly spelling it out is essential for your corporate branding as marketers on your team can then promote your value proposition to target the right potential customers.

Take M&Ms, for example.

Their slogan reads: The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.

And there you have it! A unique example of a quirky USP that effectively holds its target audience’s attention (because, seriously, it’s efficient to munch M&Ms as you type since they don’t melt in your hand).

Not sure what makes your business different?

You need some brainstorming sessions and a list of your strengths and weaknesses as well as your product’s/service’s unique features or benefits.

Pair these with your buyer’s customer persona and competitor analysis and you’ve all the raw material needed to come up with your USP.

Tip: Put all this information into a SWOT-like analysis chart. At the center of it, start penning out short phrases explaining your winning point.

Create your own infographic today!Browse Templates

 

Step 5: Define your brand voice and messaging.

Next up, work on your business’s voice.

Again, this is an essential aspect of your corporate branding as it helps develop a strong brand image and makes your business memorable.

Not only that but a well-defined brand voice can help you get your target audience’s attention right away. Dollar Shave Club’s sharp and witty voice does just that for the business.

To get to work here: start with describing your voice in three words.

Finding it hard to limit yourself to three words?

Create an unlimited list initially. Then go on and cross off words that aren’t the best fit until you boil down to three brand voice traits.

Create a chart that describes each trait and lists the dos and don'ts like this:

Create your own infographic today!Browse Templates

Make sure you circulate this brand voice chart widely so all marketers, salespeople, customer service reps — everyone, in short, knows about your brand voice.

Don’t forget to write all your content in your brand voice including your:

  • Website, blog content and ads
  • Email and social media marketing
  • Printing material including product packaging
  • Sales and customer service communication
  • Storefront and internal employee documents too

Remember: it’s only when everyone on the team and all your marketing campaigns consistently use the brand voice that you can leave a mark with it.

 

Step 6: Work out your visual identity.

This is the part that does most of your corporate identity talking. One estimate even goes on to say that the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

Here’s what you need to work on for creating a strong visual identity:

1. Logo

Your logo is the face of your visual identity. So, make sure you give it the time and attention it deserves.

If you’re rebranding, think how you can make it better. If you’re only just getting started, reflect over how your logo can tell your brand’s story.

To bring you up to speed, we’ve some awesome resources to share including this guide on how to brainstorm your logo idea and how to design a logo.

Rebranding and feeling unsure if your logo needs a touchup? Dive into these 15 ways to decide if your logo is a keeper.

Logo Templates

Create a stunning logo online quickly and easily by getting started with one of Visme’s premade logo templates. Start a new business or work through a rebrand. Find a logo template that you can easily customize for your own business.

2. Color scheme

Your brand colors help solidify your visual identity like no other design element since they catch the eye quickly.

When choosing the right brand colors, always dig into the psychology behind colors, or the impact they leave on your audience. This way, you can set the mood with your company’s color scheme.

Here's an infographic on color psychology that helps summarize the positive and negative connotations most commonly associated with each color.

An infographic on color psychology with a circle in the middle that has ten labelled slices, one for each color, and a description of each color.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

 

3. Typography

You also need to stick with a selected few fonts, their type, weight and the rest of the type anatomy for a consistent and strong corporate identity.

But don’t just mix and match fonts and consider the work done.

Instead, take the time to go through the 120+ fonts that Visme offers. Pick the ones that make a good combination and are easy to read.

Here’s a video to walk you through the process:

 

4. Visual elements

Do you want to create an illustration-based visual identity like Oatly does?

Or, do you want to let animations and interactive design elements do the talking for you just as they do for us over at Visme?

If you tend to lean in favor of shapes as part of your company’s brand, decide which ones you’re going to stick with here.

In either case, you’ll find Visme helpful.

Pick from 40 geometric patterns or try from any of these cool shapes. You’ll find a plethora of icons, shapes, illustrations and much more in Visme’s graphic library.

Like animations, but afraid they’re beyond your budget?

Think again as you can DIY animation with Visme. Here are your guides to creating animated graphics and animated charts in minutes without any design skills.

We’ve also got a video guide to creating animated illustrations:

 

Step 7: Establish your corporate branding guidelines.

With your competitor analysis done, visual identity ready, USP defined and brand voice clear, your work is done. Well, almost.

Now, you only need to take a step toward making sure everyone on your team follows your corporate identity. And there’s one simple way of doing so called a style guide.

A style guide is a manual that puts all aspects of your visual identity including details of your color scheme, typography and more in one place.

But it doesn’t need to be a hefty document that needs an hour just to read. Instead, you can make your style guide quick and easy to read using this Visme style guide template.

sell online courses - create a strong brand identity
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Browse more brand style guide templates here.

Once your corporate identity and style guide are ready, focus on brand marketing or marketing your brand identity. This will help ensure that you’re taking the steps to create awareness related to your corporate branding and spreading the word.

 

3 Examples of Corporate Branding

Although we’ve already covered several examples of corporate branding including M&Ms, Dove and others, it doesn’t hurt to pinpoint some legendary ones that are simply impossible not to mention.

So, here we have:

 

1. Apple

Apple and its minimalist corporate identity has developed a fandom. Their identity drips in everything that they do — from product packaging to Apple’s Twitter cover.

 

2. Nike

Didn’t you just literally think up their logo, the famous Swoosh, as you read Nike’s name in this list? That’s Nike with its strong brand identity game.

Basically, the brand focuses on making everyone feel like an athlete.

It’s why their mission statement reads: ‘If you have a body, you are an athlete’ with the rest of the brand identity solidifying this. Example: the Swoosh signifies victory.

And, their marketing campaigns reflect it too:

 

 

3. Airbnb

These folks focus on bringing a sense of belonging to their table. So, their revised corporate branding is all about that. Take, just their logo here.

The Bélo, as their team refers to the shape, stands for four things: people, place, love (because it looks like an upside down heart) and the ‘a’ in Airbnb.

See for yourself:

 

Looking for a Brand Management Software?

With the corporate branding strategy led out for you, here’s hoping you’re now ready to dip your toes in creating a strong brand identity for your business.

But, first, get your toolkit ready by signing up for Visme.

Visme's brand management software will make it super simple for you to create designs showcasing your plans and the rest of your visual identity enchilada.

So here goes… happy branding!

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    About the Author

    Masooma Memon is a pizza-loving freelance writer by day and a novel nerd by night. She crafts research-backed, actionable blog posts for SaaS and marketing brands who aim to employ quality content to educate and engage with their audience.

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