Corporate Branding & Identity

Don’t let your business get lost in the noise. Prioritize corporate branding to build a strong, memorable identity and connect with your audience.

Corporate branding contextualizes and promotes your brand, not just a product or service.
A strong brand shapes public perception, helps differentiate you from competitors, and can result in growth, loyalty, and repeat business.
Corporate branding extends to most aspects of your business and can help you connect with your target audience, guide decision-making, and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

The internet opened up a new, accessible landscape for advertising, and allowed small businesses to compete with corporate giants for attention. As a result, “corporate branding” isn’t just for large companies—it’s something that all businesses need to prioritize. Here’s a primer on corporate branding, why it’s important, and how to develop a branding strategy for your business.

What is corporate branding?

Corporate branding is a strategy that contextualizes and promotes your brand, rather than just a product or service. Corporate branding encompasses your brand logo, values, tone, messaging, purpose, offering, target audience, and market differentiation. A strong brand shapes public perception and helps you separate yourself from competitors. Having one can result in growth, brand loyalty, and repeat business.

Why you should focus on corporate branding?

Well-executed corporate branding crystallizes and conveys your business’s personality and values. It extends to most aspects of your business from marketing to sales to customer service. A strong corporate identity can: 

  • Help you connect with your target audience. Strong brands have a clear purpose and set of values that, when effectively communicated, connect with your target audience’s values. 
  • Guide your decision-making. Your brand’s mission statement should be at the core of your decision-making framework. It can guide your approach to everything from customer service to company culture to communications.
  • Differentiate your brand. Consumers can be overwhelmed with choices—especially in the age of ecommerce. Memorable and compelling corporate branding can help you stand out from the pack. 

How to develop a strong corporate brand?

A brand strategy takes time to build and execute, but having one ultimately can help you make decisions more efficiently. Here’s how to build a strong corporate brand.

  • Identify and understand your target audience
  • Research your competitors
  • Identify your value proposition and unique selling proposition (USP)
  • Hone your brand voice
  • Establish a visual identity

Identify and understand your target audience

our target audience is made up of various customer personas (a representation of customer types and characteristics) who share your values. Identify your ideal customer based on factors such as their location, education level, profession, age range, income, shopping habits, aspirations, and personal values.

Remember: Your brand doesn’t need to be everything to everyone; rather, your brand’s value proposition should speak clearly to your specific audience. For example, luxury brands connect with an audience focused on lifestyle, rather than a price-conscious audience. Trendy brands connect with an audience concerned with being of the moment, rather than an audience focused on practicality.

 Research your competitors

Understanding your competitors is an essential step toward understanding what makes you different. Review your competitors’ positioning on all of their customer touchpoints, evaluate their voice and tone, and dig around for authentic customer opinions about them. Answer these questions as you conduct research:

  • Who are my main competitors? 
  • What’s their promise to their customers?
  • Are they delivering on that promise? 
  • How do they speak to their customers? 
  • How do customers perceive them? 
  • What opportunities exist to beat them? 

Identify your value proposition and unique selling proposition (USP)

Some great advice from Joey Ng, the CMO at Yami, is to “find your niche and define in very few words what makes your brand distinctive.” In this context, finding your niche means figuring out exactly what benefit you provide to customers and why you provide it better than your main competitors. These are, in essence, your value proposition and your unique selling proposition (USP).

To find your brand’s value proposition, answer these three questions:

  • What are the specific benefits you provide your target audience?
  • What pain point are you solving for your audience and how will you solve it? How will your product improve their situation? 
  • How is your product the only solution to their pain point? What are you doing differently or better than the competition?

Answering the third question will also point you toward your USP. 

Hone your brand voice

Brand voice is your business’s personality and your way of “speaking” with customers. Whether your voice is motivational (like Nike) or a bit silly (like Wendy’s or Old Spice), it should reflect your brand’s values and mission and speak directly to your customers.

“The brands that speak to everyone speak to no one,” says Morgan Brown, Shopify’s VP of marketing. To develop a brand voice that will resonant with your audience, ask yourself:

What are a few adjectives that describe my brand’s personality?
Given what I know about my audience, what’s the most appropriate way to speak to them?
Who is a person (real or fictional) who my brand might emulate? Are we cool like Dominic Torreto or earnest like Ted Lasso?

Establish a visual identity

Just like your brand voice will influence your brand’s copywriting, your visual identity will influence how your brand’s assets and touchpoints will look. Here are some tips for creating a visual identity:

Think about how your visuals complement your values. Do you want your brand to come across as simple, clean, and straightforward? Or would a maximalist visual identity support your brand’s mission more effectively?
Do your homework. Make sure that all aspects of your brand identity will make sense to your audience. It’s a good idea to cross-reference your ideas with different cultures to make sure that nothing gets lost in translation.
Make use of free design tools. There are low-cost ways to build a brand identity. For instance, Canva can help you create advertising elements and marketing collateral regardless of your design skills and budget.

What Is Corporate Identity?

Corporate identity is the actions of an organization and how it presents itself to the public. It’s how a company behaves, communicates, and is perceived by consumers. A strong identity and company culture are important because they’re what allow a corporation to get recognized by its target audience, as well as differentiate itself from competitors in the marketplace. All internal stakeholders of a corporation contribute to its identity, including the employees, investors, and partners of the company.

Three key elements dictate corporate identity, including:

  • Corporate Communications

How and what a corporation communicates plays a role in its brand image. Every day, information is passed on to internal and external audiences to broadcast a favorable point of view and a consistent message across all company channels. Communicated information features an appropriate tone of voice and can include:

  • Policies and procedures
  • Newsletters
  • Advertisements and sponsorships
  • Memos to investors of the company
  • Public relations
  • Corporate Design

The most commonly attributed element of corporate brand identity is corporate design. It showcases the visual identity of a company and includes its various visual aspects. These visual elements include the following and more:

  • Company name
  • Letterhead
  • Logo design
  • Brand color palette
  • Brand visuals
  • Fonts
  • Tagline
  • Business cards

Corporate identity design helps the corporation’s visual assets stand out from others like it.

  • Corporate Behavior

Perhaps the most impactful of elements is corporate behavior, or how the corporation conducts itself. Corporate behavior includes the company’s philosophy, mission statement, and the company’s values, as well as the company’s ethical code of conduct and corporate social responsibility. In essence, corporate behavior embodies how a company acts followed by various scenarios that can be triggered by political, social, environmental, technological, and legal factors.

The Difference Between Branding and Corporate Identity?

The terms branding and corporate identity are often used interchangeably, but in reality, they’re very different from one another. Branding refers to a specific product’s characteristics, ethics, and focus. Corporate identity speaks to the company’s characteristics, values, and focus, which developed the product.


Branding IdentityCorporate Identity
Product CharacteristicsCompany Characteristics
Product EthicsCompany Values
Product FocusCompany Focus


So, the big difference is in the focus on a specific product vs. the whole company. Since a lot of large enterprises have a range of products and services, this can be a very important distinction when managing campaigns.

What Is Brand Identity?

Brand identity is how an organization wants to be perceived by its target audience. It is the message that your customers receive from the company brand. Maintaining this message is important for brand consistency so that your target market will always recognize your brand and keep their brand loyalty. Maintaining brand identity can be frustrating when old logos are floating around in the company’s shared drive. One way to get a grip on maintaining up-to-date logos and marketing collateral is to use a  brand management solution with customization in order to keep all your marketing materials compliant and consistent.

  • Why Is A Brand Identity Important?

Establishing a strong brand identity allows you to set differentiation, personality, consistency, awareness, and loyalty among your business and customers. Your brand is the company’s identity. This image will be portrayed to all employees and customers-therefore making it one of your company’s most valuable assets.

  • What Is Brand Image?

Brand image or corporate image is the current external perception held by consumers. It is the overall associations and beliefs your customers or potential customers have about your brand and, as an extension, your product or service. Corporate image encompasses the overall impression that consumers have in their mind about your brand from a variety of different sources.

Why Corporate Identity Is Important?

Whether it’s a Fortune 500 company or a small startup, identity matters. Having a strong, positive identity is important for a corporation because it directly correlates to the success of the business by shaping people’s thoughts and options. A strong corporate identity perceives the company to be more trustworthy, a significant factor when it comes to market presence.

Research shows that among consumers who track their purchases, the majority of respondents (68%) spent more on a trusted corporation compared to one they trust less. Companies that establish favorable corporate identities and earn customer trust are generally rewarded with more sales, loyalty, and positive recommendations

Other reasons that highlight the importance of corporate identity include:

  • Builds customer loyalty: A positive corporate identity that is consistent with the company’s core values, principles, and objectives enables the customer to connect with the brand, which allows for the development of brand loyalty.
  • Enhances reputation: Having a consistent corporate identity, along with excellent service, is a recipe for trust among customers. This earns companies a strong reputation among their target audience.
  • Creates Awareness: An easily identifiable corporate image helps create awareness for both internal and external audiences as it clearly indicates the company’s promise and brand values.
  • Helps with differentiation: Corporations can set themselves apart and stand out from competitors with a well-planned marketing strategy that focuses on corporate identity.

The Dangers and Impact of Brand Devaluation on Your Corporate Identity

The more valuable your brand is perceived to be, the more customers are willing to invest in and recommend it. Many brands devalue themselves without even realizing it. A poor customer experience, disjointed marketing strategy, and lack of corporate-wide communications and methodology can all lead to a brand devaluation that threatens your corporate identity.

For example, a top concern for many brands is how social media has opened the door for potential brand infringement and devaluation. Online scammers and impersonators – together with disgruntled consumers – can seemingly overnight damage the reputation of a brand. To mitigate this risk, you need a well-thought-out corporate identity protection strategy in place.

There are several ways to protect your online corporate identity:

  • Use the online tools social media platforms offer to make your social media accounts “official.”
  • Make sure your corporate website includes information about and links to your social media accounts.
  • Consistently monitor for misuse or misappropriation of your corporate identity.

While social media has innumerable positive benefits, it’s also capable of putting your corporate identity in real danger of a ruined reputation. What people say online about you and your business has become the most important reflection of your brand’s integrity, reliability, and value. Managing its digital identity should be a top priority.

Shape Your Identity or It Will Shape You

Every organization is a living, breathing entity, continually growing, changing, and responding to outside influences. It’s easy to see, therefore, how your organization’s corporate culture is inextricably linked to its branding and strategy. Unfortunately, many companies ignore managing and protecting their organizational identity until a crisis forces them to confront some harsh reality.

Many brands are forced into this situation due to external forces, or even internal controversies. Organizations that lean heavily on brand purpose must be sure to practice their purpose or find themselves exposed as hypocrites. This information can be devastating both internally and externally for brands.