In a highly competitive sector like IT, corporate branding can help with better sales and attract new employees. Learn how to make a foundation of successful corporate branding.
Promoting the brand name of a corporation instead of a product or a service is corporate branding. However, corporate branding does not refer only to advertising. This marketing term also covers internal and external communications of the company as well as corporate social responsibility. While product branding focuses on sales and profits, corporate branding focuses more on sharing brand values, unique selling propositions, and how it differs from its competitors.
The best way to understand the concept of corporate branding is through the example of Apple. You have probably used one of its devices, or you know at least a dozen people who are Apple brand ambassadors. Every marketing expert will tell you that the main reason for above-average customer loyalty is not the quality of the company’s products but the Apple brand.
Why is corporate branding important?
Our connection with brands stopped being just about simple commerce and transformed into a relationship as powerful as religion. We are well into an era of emotional connection with brands. There are two things that successful brands have in common that explain pretty well this phenomenon:
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Humanistic corporate culture
Brands adopt a strong corporate culture focused on people and not the products. They have solid corporate ethics that can be seen in their involvement in the community and their involvement with specific causes aligned with its values. One of Apple’s core values is “power to the people through technology.” It aligns well with their decades-long program of supporting education programs and inclusion of computers in every aspect of education.
Distinctive verbal and visual vocabulary
If you think about Apple’s advertisements, packaging of their products, website, or Apple events, you will quickly see how all elements are connected. Every visual and verbal component that the company uses in communicating its message is carefully selected and combined to make a well-rounded brand identity.
A solid corporate brand affects many areas of a company. It can influence the perceived value of a company, perception of its products and services, company culture and values, employment applications, and acceptance of new products in the market.
Foundations of an excellent corporate branding strategy
You do not have to be a C-level corporation to have corporate branding. Even if you are a small startup that is just making its first steps, you can start developing it. Having a corporate branding strategy from the start will help you build a strong brand presence in the long run. Keep in mind that this strategy is not set in stone. As your company grows, you can always revisit and update it.
There are three things that you need to keep in mind when you begin the development process:
- Good research will save you time. Great brands do not just happen. They are always the product of good market research and competitor analysis. Identify your target audience. It is improbable that your product is for everyone. By targeting broadly, you will likely have poor results. Also, see what your direct and indirect competitors are doing. Not to copy them but to see what makes you different from them.
- Consistency is the key. Whether you are sending an internal memo or launching a social media campaign, you need to use the same brand voice and visual elements. Consistency will make the perception of your brand stronger over time.
- It is never about the brand. It is always about the people. The main focus should always be your target audience, their needs, and how you can help them.
How to create corporate branding that works?
Good corporate branding always comes from good alignment between the company’s strategic vision, culture, and image. If there is the slightest misalignment between any of these factors, the entire branding strategy will underperform.
The founders or the top managers usually decide the strategic vision, and it is about the overall long-term goals of the company. Image is how a company is perceived by external stakeholders, customers, and the general public.
Company culture is more than inspirational quotes on the walls, free coffee, and lemonade for the employees. It is more about management style and how it cultivates growth by valuing each employee’s individual voice. It is also about how people inside the company perceive the company and its management. Attracting new talent to an IT company depends on this segment.
Corporate branding affects things such as logo, packaging, advertising, brand voice, customer service, treatment, and employee training. It’s a foundation on which you build everything else. The development of a corporate branding strategy is a complex task and requires time to work on it. A company’s founders or managers can do it. Still, it is always good to include both the employees and people from the target audience in the process. This is a simplified checklist on this topic, and it should serve you as a roadmap to your corporate branding.
Define your company’s mission, vision, and values
These are among the first things that you need to define once you start your company. Think of them as a guiding light through the various stages of your business. A mission statement focuses on determining what the purpose of the company is. Vision tells you where you want to see your company going in the future. The value statement shows the “soul” of the company or what the company believes.
Let us take LinkedIn as an example. Their mission statement is “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” A vision statement is “To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.” And their values are “Members first. Relationships matter. Be open, honest, and constructive.”
Identify your target audience
It is improbable that you have a product or a service that targets almost everyone on the planet. And even if you do, you need to start targeting one particular group and grow from there. Knowing your target audience will help you with setting the foundation for your branding.
The language and the messages you are going to use will come out of the audience you are trying to address and the overall goals you are trying to achieve. Your logo, brand colors, visuals, and typography should help your target audience identify what you offer and how it makes their lives better.
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Create visual identity
Working on your brand’s visual identity from this point on is relatively straightforward. Once you have a clear picture of your company’s goals, values, and target audience, all you have to do is carefully select visual elements that complement them.
Creating a corporate brand is a rather complex process, and we just scratched the surface of it. Like everything marketing-related, this is also an iterative process. It takes trial and error to see what works best for your company. Remember that corporate branding is equally essential for an IT company, not just for sales but also for attracting new talent and investment.
The team at ManyPixels has a lot of experience helping companies develop their own brand identity and strategies. You can always book a demo session and see how we may help you.