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Protecting corporate identity: common issues brands face
3rd January 2020
Your corporate identity is all the visual elements you use to tell your audience who you are.
Managing your corporate identity effectively creates clarity and consistency - neglect it and you risk devaluing your brand and confusing prospective buyers.
Various elements make up your corporate identity.
Think logos, adverts, staff uniform, signage, social media pages, tone of voice, and fonts. As your business grows, your corporate identity will start to include more and more branding elements. Having systems in place that make sure everything is in sync is crucial for a recognisable and successful corporate identity.
It takes time and effort to make sure your brand stays recognisable. With the right tools and processes in place, your company's carefully honed corporate identity will be protected. Here's how you can achieve this:
The Complete Guide to Developing Your Brand Guidelines
Take a look at our free guide to maintaining brand consistency, including:
- What elements make up your brand story?
- Managing use of your brand guidelines
Specify your brand guidelines
Getting your brand guidelines in place is one of the first things you should do when launching a business. Outline all the essential elements that make up your brand's image and put them into a shareable document for your entire team to refer to. This will make sure everyone's consistent right from the start.
Here are the key elements to include in your brand guidelines:
- Your company's mission statement and vision for the future.
- Details about your buyer personas or target audience.
- Explain your brand's personality - use some adjectives to describe how you want your company to come across to your audience.
- Your company values - the principles upon which you base all business decisions.
- Company logo - show all variations, describe how it should be used, how much spacing must be provided around the logo and the appropriate colour combinations.
- The colour palette to be used across all branded content.
- Font - determine the typeface that must be used and where it applies explicitly.
- Images - you should ensure there's consistency in the types of photos, graphics and visual compositions you put out. Your imagery has to resonate with your target audience, and they should always be able to recognise when a picture or graphic relates to your business.
- Your company's voice - this is an extension of your brand's personality, but here you can delve a little bit deeper into how you want your organisation to be perceived and how your messaging should sound to the customer.
Sticking to these guidelines will help make your business memorable. They'll distinguish your business from competitors and establish loyalty with clients.
Copyright or trademark your brand
Apart from ensuring that your messaging is always up to date with the current brand guidelines, you should also address the legal implications that come with trading under your chosen business name and how you protect its identity. If ignored, these could cause problems for your corporate identity.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to protect your brand and any new ideas you may have:
- Keep your patents private - while your patents are pending or your intellectual property is under development, you should ensure that only the necessary people have access to any details concerning your future projects.
- Create a system of ownership - you need formal contracts that clearly show which team member has ownership over a patent or piece of content that is being created.
- Ensure no aspect of your brand or products have been trademarked - by performing a trademark clearance search you can establish whether any parts of your brand are threatened by similar or pre-existing users of your company's symbology, colour schemes and product ideas.
- Register your trademark - once you've confirmed there's no one else who can claim rights to your brand or derivative products and services associated with it, seek the necessary legal guidance to trademark your assets.
- Keep all third parties notified - if anyone outside your business has access to your branding assets, you need clear contractual agreements that limit the application and use of your corporate identity to ensure that you are always accurately represented.
Depending on the nature of your product or service, there will be specific legal avenues you should pursue in order to protect your legal identity and intellectual property. It's important to claim your domain name and social media handles as soon as you can too.
Monitor use of your branding
"A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well."
- Jeff Bezos
Thanks to social media it's easier than ever to monitor how people feel about your business and where your branding assets are being used.
There are plenty of free online tools like Google Alerts, Social Mention and TweetReach that can help you keep an eye on what's being said about your business These give you the option to be proactive in your responses and take action when necessary.
The common issues and how to address them
As your business expands, you'll have more and more digital assets that represent your brand. You'll also have more staff handling your information.
Your brand educates your customer about what your business does. If there are inconsistencies in the messages you send out your branded assets are likely to have less impact. Furthermore, your competition will almost certainly try to take advantage of any shortfalls in your corporate identity management.
One of the first steps to ensuring your brand guidelines are implemented is to make use of a digital asset management (DAM) system. This means that as more content and assets are created for your brand, you have a way to organise and store updated versions of everything that gets used by your employees, customers and third-parties. Instead of wasting time manually giving access to individuals, you can automatically set the parameters for how much access you'd like to grant a user in terms of editing and sharing.
Once you have your DAM in place, you're in a better position to optimise your branding and make your advertising and marketing activities much more streamlined.
ResourceSpace will help you build a digital asset library that directly serves the needs of your business in a way that positions you for increased productivity and growth. If you'd like to learn more about what our customizable DAM can do for your organisation or trial our software for free, just click here.