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Corporate Identity: Branding You’ll Love Is My #1 Skill

Corporate Identity and Branding
Examples a few of the hundreds of pieces I've created as a part of TwelveStone Health Partners' ongoing corporate identity I created and have been gradually evolving since 2013.

Corporate Identity: 50+ Companies Branded and Counting

Icon: 50+ Corporate Identity Campaigns and CountingWith more than fifty corporate identity successes under my belt, benefitting large and small companies and individuals in about every industry nationwide, I understand the considerations that go into the corporate branding. As your corporate identity advocate, I’ll point out pitfalls and opportunities alike at all stages of the branding or rebranding process, from brainstorming the perfect corporate name to seeing your corporate logo projected 100 feet tall on the side of a skyscraper, and every crucial step between.

Contents

What Is Corporate Identity?

Your Organization's First Impression

Straight to the point, a corporate identity is your company’s personality. It’s the first impression to prospective clients, partners, investors, etc. A weak corporate identity is the equivalent of a weak handshake. It’s like not being able to look that other person in the eye. A strong corporate identity is just the opposite: it’s a confident handshake and eyes met. 

All the pie charts, all the case studies, and all the fancy presentations won’t entirely make up for a weak corporate identity. Personality and professional offerings are great, but if your branding is off-target, amateurish, or dated, there will always be that little bit of doubt in the other party’s mind.

Let’s avoid that, shall we?

My goal is to make your organization look like you want to look in five, ten, fifteen years, the times you dreamed about when you decided to start your business in the first place. You may only be five friends in a tiny office with folding chairs, but to the world, to your prospects, you’ll look like a Fortune 500 company if that’ your aim. Alternatively, if your aim is to look as down home and approachable as possible, then that’s what I’ll create.

Your brand should communicate that marketing message, in as clean, tasteful, and appropriate manner as possible. Correct corporate branding design is not about my personal style — I actively try not to have one, so I can remain malleable — it’s about identifying, bringing into the light, and effectively communicating your company’s innate personality in visual form.

Your Organization's Lasting Impression: Defending Your Corporate Brand

Once you corporate banding is created, it is very important that it be applied in a consistent professional manner. A professional designer should know this and will likely follow  a corporate identity guidelines, but it is equally important that your corporate brand is being applied correctly by others.

You will often distribute your corporate logo to publications so they can create in-house ads, to service bureaus for application on t-shirts or other promotional materials, etc. It is key that you have someone advocate to these parties for correct application of your corporate identity.

Your Organization's Evolving Impression

Not to confuse the issue — after having spoken strongly about maintaining your organization’s corporate branding — but in the rarest of circumstances, it is possible for a graphic designer skilled in creating, applying, and upholding corporate identity design to gradually modify your corporate brand. This can only be achieved gently, over the span of months, and over many pieces at strategically chosen points.

No matter where your organization’s needs fall, I am the person who you need. Creating, applying, and defending corporate identity is my area of greatest passion and experience.

Corporate Identity & Branding Portfolio

Corporate Identity and Your Professional Organization

What is included in a corporate identity?

What is included in a corporate identity is something designers have been trying to answer since the dawn of the undertaking. In my many years in the trenches, I’ve found two ways to “package” branding so that my clients can budget for the work.

Branding packages

Logo only: The simplest corporate ID package is just a logo. Early on in a company’s life especially, that’s all that a new company can afford. And frankly, sometimes it’s all that’s needed. Because I had the rare luxury of never needing to market my services for my first couple years in business —  I was working as a plugin design department for a plugin marketing company — I sometimes felt silly or vain for even having a logo. 

Basic: The next and most common tier is considered Basic. It usually includes a logo, business cards, letterhead, and an envelope (though envelopes are being requested less and less each year), all of what is traditionally called a stationery set.  I will also include one or two additional pieces, based on the client’s understanding of what “basic” is for their business,. On occasion, I’ll be asked to add one or two items that would normally be considered special, like email template, etc., but more on that later.

Presentation-centric companies will consider a PowerPoint/Keynote template as much or more essential than even business cards. In that case, I’ll throw in a template with three slides — cover, internal page, and internal page with sidebar. Another client who is very personable, will place a note pad at that same level. Regardless, whatever is included, the work will be estimated and billed per item.

Marketing: Here again, there is room for discussion as to what makes a comprehensive corporate identity, but it will include any or all of the items that are ever considered basic — logo design, business cards, letterhead, envelope, notecard, pocketed folder, and presentation template.

Additionally, a comprehensive set will also include pieces geared toward marketing — templates for sales sheets, case studies, white papers, digital and print ads, infographics, reports, and anything else specific to a client company’s needs.

This can be a challenging proposition because unless the client has actual content they won’t really know what layouts may serve them best. For this reason, I usually suggest creating pieces in their corporate identity one-at-a-time as they arise naturally. This doesn’t allow for a bulk design discount, but it’s my experience that more is saved overall when the actual content does come in and the client recognizes the need for template edits.

Special: Sometimes, usually prompted by change or a sudden need to take advantage of a new opportunity, a client will need special pieces/projects designed. Any first-ofs must be designed to seamlessly fit with the company’s corporate identity, old or new, to avoid the jarring or unprofessional effects I mentioned earlier.

There are a few common scenarios:

  • When a client changes locations, they will rely on me for internal and external signage design and framed wall art showing displaying company information.
  • A client’s first trade show will require the creation of any number of materials and digital products ranging from digital and print ads, to branded merchandise, to trade show display, handouts, t-shirts, and on an on, depending on the client’s budget and marketing goals.
  • Often with client growth comes a need for graphical wrap design for new fleet vehicles. 

The list of special circumstances is extensive. The number of different directions along that trade show support can go with all of the different types and different dimensions of materials that can be included in a trade show presentation necessitates the services of someone like me who has 30+ trade shows under his belt. You need someone who understands individual printer’s specifications, has trusted vendor relationships, and who can oversee and guarantee timely production and shipping of materials to your office or the trade show venue.

Branding Stages

With all of what I’ve laid out regarding branding packages, I’ve had far more success creating the starting corporate identity set initially then designing each of the additional pieces one-at-a-time as the need arises.

This requires the client to be willing to possibly pay a little more per piece, but as I mentioned earlier, they save overall by reducing the likelihood of template edits when the work is done blind at the beginning of our relationship. Working in this way also reducing the chance that a particular piece will be unnecessarily designed early on. If I design a case study template but you never find the need to use it, that effort and expense will have been wasted.

The bottom line though is no matter which path you choose to go, I’ll be your advocate, offering suggestions along the way based on my experience helping organization of all sizes. Corporate identity is hugely important undertaking for any company. And though it may seem simple in some ways, the work lies in the dedication to consistency, from the outset and as new work arises. I have that dedication and the experience to see even the most complex of branding jobs through, on time and on budget.

Where is your corporate identity?

Scenario 1: You Need a new or redesigned Corporate Identity

New organizations: There’s little more exciting to an entrepreneur, regardless of how many companies they’ve started, than creating the corporate name and corporate logo, seeing that new name on business cards. Then later seeing it appear on any first item of its kind. As sentimentally important as the design of your corporate identity is, it is even more so a step in your corporate evolution to take a step away from emotions.

Existing organizations: You may be a company who started out under one business model but finds itself in different enough a situation to justify a name change. This can happen any number of ways:

  • Some businesses move horizontally, finding success in a peripheral field, i.e. — Larry’s Lawns now makes a killing installing residential fountains. So, Larry’s Fountains.
  • Some business evolve from specific to general, i.e. — Larry’s Lawns does lawns but also, those fountains, gardening, home security installation, solar, roofing, etc. Now “Lawns” has become a marketing limitation.
  • Some businesses grow in the opposite direction. Maybe Larry’s General Contracting should just be Larry’s Lawns after all.
  • And some businesses find surprising growth, so that logo your daughter-in-law drew doesn’t convey the next-level professionalism your organization now needs.
  • Sadly, some companies just get cheated, left with a inappropriate, unattractive logo that did the job for as long as the business owner could stand it but now it’s got to go.

Whatever the reason, good or bad, your corporate identity design or redesign should be handled with lawyer-like care, with attention to detail and giving consideration to a large number of factors you as a business owner may not think of without professional guidance. I’ve rescued designs for more than a few companies, and I’ve given birth to a good many more.

Scenario 1: You Need a new or redesigned Corporate Identity

In many cases, you will be content with your corporate identity but are for whatever reason no longer working with the designer or form who created it. But time goes on and as new events, products, etc., come into play, they must appear as seamless additions to your current site, trade show setup, collateral or whatever you need.

I have continued about as many corporate identities as I have created from scratch. And that includes continuing the look and feel for companies whose current branding the organizations knew were outdated, unattractive, or for whatever reason was in need of updating, but they weren’t yet ready for a professional update.

No problem. Whatever your corporate identity need is — new, renewed, or continued — that’s where an experienced graphic designer dedicated to your brand comes in. I can design “down” as easily as I can design “up” if you want to think about the topic in those terms. So regardless where you are at with your corporate identity, design, redesign, or continuation, I’m your company man. 

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