The corporate identity design process starts with research and combines strategy and creativity to get the desired outcome.
The amount of time the corporate identity design process outlined below will take depends on factors such as the size of the company, complexity of the project, the nature of the problem, the amount of research required and the number of items the corporate identity will be applied to.
This crucial process should be managed by both the client and the agency, to ensure the client is guided by expert design input to a satisfactory brand outcome. In smaller businesses, the owner or CEO is usually the key decision maker, while in larger businesses this may be handled by the Marketing Director.
Corporate identity design should always begin with research, to ensure the design team is fully informed and equipped to determine the best way to differentiate your specific corporate identity. All creative decisions are based on the research, which may include:
Internal Audits — The design firm should receive your mission statement, strategic planning documents, business plans, marketing plans, annual reports, any market research available, employee surveys, business history, press and any existing marketing materials such as brochures and advertisements. One-on-one interviews with senior management and key employees can also add insight.
Customer Insights — As mentioned earlier, your brand resides in the minds of consumers, therefore research should be done to discover what your customers currently think of your business and brand. Interviews are are performed on random customers or clients, through online surveys or small focus groups, to discover their perceptions and reveal new perspectives.
Non-Customer Insights — Also known as quantitative research, this is performed on members of the general population. A random group of individuals is asked a specific range of questions, through online surveys or small focus groups, to determine general perceptions on various factors important to your business. This is of particular value if entering a new market, to gauge and predict success of new products and services.
Competitive Audits — This research is used to determine and identify competitors and evaluate how they approach and rate with the market. Why did one competitor succeed and another fail? Why was one product successful while another identical product was rejected? This research can help determine your key competitive advantages and the best way to approach the market.
This phase in the corporate identity design process gathers and organizes the information from Phase 1 in order to clarify, position and determine the brand essence. It is here that your central idea, underlying concept, key messages and corporate ‘voice’ will be determined.
A corporate identity design brief will then be presented which outlines industry trends, results of research and interviews, how the brand identity will be organized, the resulting brand strategy and the goals of the corporate identity design project.
Two or three strategic directions for the corporate identity design should be presented and a chosen direction agreed on to determine how the final design will be created and presented.
The actual design phase begins with the creation of the logo, with the creative process exploring many directions but guided by strategy decided upon in Phase 2.
The design team will explore and develop many logo ideas, with the best two or three being chosen for final presentation to your company.
The final choice for your logo should then be made by a few key decision makers, as too many people can have differing opinions, comments and requests which may confuse the vision decided upon in the strategy phase. Revision and alteration of presented logos is a healthy part of the design process, but should only be decided upon by those most qualified to make such decisions.
Two other key aspects of the Corporate Identity Design process will be covered at this stage:
Colour — The design team will show you a selection of colour palettes which they feel reflect the personality of your company in its corporate identity. The end result is for your company to own a colour palette which helps consumers identify your company.
Type Style — Your corporate identity will also incorporate certain type style or fonts. Different fonts communicate with very differing tones of voice, therefore the appropriate fonts must be found which reflect your company and brand. Consistent use of your distinctive type style or styles is integral to your corporate identity.
The end result of this third phase is a presentation of your corporate identity design on trial applications such as brochures, advertisements or stationery to allow you to view the visual results. More than one application should be shown to present the broad range of possibilities with a view to finding the most appropriate solution for your company.
The new corporate identity design should be applied to all appropriate corporate materials to ensure consistency of communication of your brand identity.
The most fundamental application is on the stationery system of business cards, letterheads and envelopes, with extended forms including transmittal sheets, invoices and other business forms.
Application of the corporate identity design should also include all company literature, advertisements and marketing material and should also, naturally, extend to items such as signage systems, vehicles and uniforms.
Application can also extend further than the visual elements of your company to include telephone answering methods, voicemail messages and automated telephone support systems.
The actual implementation of all the designed elements can be done in planned steps which allow you to meet internal and external business needs in a way that also meets your budgetary requirements.
A private launch of your new corporate identity may mean internal unfolding of the design through new business cards and stationery for employees and display of new signage.
While a public launch may include unveiling elements that clients and customers see including a redesigned website, package design, advertisements, brochures and other marketing materials.
A crucial element of the corporate identity design process is the creation of a graphic standards manual, a document which strictly sets out appropriate use of all your design elements to ensure consistent appearance of your brand in the marketplace.