What is a Corporate Identity?

Do you have a vision for your company? In addition to making a profit, what do you want your company to be? Imagine your company as a person; it should have a distinct personality with unique traits. A corporate identity is exactly that: the traits that attribute human characteristics to a company and define “who” that company is and what’s important to it. Without a corporate identity, your company is just another corporation.

The Importance of a Corporate Identity

For many business owners, making money isn’t enough. They want their business to change the world; to make a difference in some way. For some, that means providing people with a product that fulfills their needs. For others, it’s making enough profit to contribute to causes that the owners champion.

For instance, Whole Foods has built its corporate identity around the products it offers. The company’s grocery stores don’t carry a lot of processed foods. They focus on organic produce and healthy products. Whole Foods has built a corporate identity around health and wellness. In addition to being in line with the founders’ vision for making a difference in the world, the corporate identity provides excellent marketing.

The Impact of a Corporate Identity

Consumers know that Whole Foods is a company that sells healthy food and wellness products. It’s not a market for everyone—the company’s demographic tends to be higher-income and more educated that the average consumer. But for those who care about healthy food and can afford the products Whole Foods offers, the corporate identity acts as ongoing marketing.

A corporate identity can also have a huge impact on philanthropy. When Blake Mycoskie started his TOMS shoe company, he felt very strongly that he should donate shoes to children in third world countries. From the beginning, his slogan, “One for One,” taught consumers that every time they bought a pair of TOMS, the company would donate a pair to a child. In addition to building a financially successful company, Mycoskie created a corporate identity has enabled TOMS to donate over 2 million pairs of shoes globally; consumers recognize the philanthropic identity and feel even better about buying his shoes.

Branding and Corporate Identity

A corporate identity comes to life through branding. Once a company has created a list of traits it wants to portray, the next step is marketing. Using the previous example of Whole Foods, here’s how that company has used branding to make their corporate identity clear:

  1. Their name connotes healthy food. A “whole” food is one that hasn’t been altered or chemically enhanced.
  2. Their logo incorporates a piece of fruit in the “O” of “Whole.”
  3. The company website features content that focuses on health and wellness.
  4. Whole Foods stores feature recycling and energy-saving fixtures.
  5. Social media focuses on health and wellness topics.

Everything that Whole Foods does—from its website to its physical locations, portrays its corporate identity. As a result, the public is well aware of what the company sells and what its values are.

What is your corporate identity? Define it, and promote it through branding.