If you ever had a parent, or close relative, who worked for a big corporation, chances are you saw your house slowly piling up with that company’s goodies over the years. From caps and coffee mugs, to notepads, t-shirts and umbrellas, your home probably looks like a souvenir shop by now.
Well, even though company swag is just a small part of what corporate identity really is, it certainly represents the most obvious and simple way of conveying a brand.
Corporate identity actually refers to the overall image of a corporation/ startup/ business in the minds of its audiences: customers, its own employees, partners, competition, etc.
Why is it important?
One reason: Your company needs to be recognizable and stand out from the rest. Corporate identity allows your brand to speak with a unique and consistent voice. In time, you begin to grow in people’s minds and you start creating a particular impression in them. In a world completely flooded by advertising, this is extremely important!
For example: You are not a store that sells computers; you are Apple, whose stores are unlike any other stores; your products are sold in uniquely white boxes; your new product announcements are done in a specific format and speech style; your website resembles both your physical store and your speech from your product announcement conferences…
See where we’re going here?
You need to be YOU, and people need to relate to YOU when they see you. And that goes for every single thing your company does, internally and externally, as if your product/ service/ business were a living thing.
How do companies establish their Corporate Identity?
To properly establish the visual persona of your brand, companies turn to designers who specialise in creating what’s called Corporate Identity Manuals (CIM). This is literally a document containing all the guidelines regarding your company’s design and visual framework. They can be quite extensive, and as detailed as to specifying the margins required for the use of the logo.
Overall, here are (roughly) the 4 basic elements of a CIM:
Logotype: Bit obvious right? It’s one of the most iconic things about your brand. Unfortunately, it’s hard to allocate specific meanings/emotions to logos, so growing into people’s minds (and hearts) usually requires time and a solid experience to back it up.
Color Palette: There’s no such a thing as “color red” (at least not for a designer :p) the color spectrum is infinite, and therefore each of your colors need to be coded to be replicated over time and media. Color is a powerful tool, so it's crucial that you are consistent in its use. Facebook’s blue, hideous as it is in my opinion, is unlike any other blue out there, and is universally recognisable.
Typography: A font can be so iconic that some brands actually rely on them as their sole logo. Coca-Cola, FedEx, CNN and Ray-Ban are just some of them. This is why typography is a great way of achieving distinction.
Imagery: Are the images full-body shots? Are they close-ups of hands? Are they landscape photos? Are they heavily contrasted? Are they color filtered? Images have a style, same as text and colors, and so they should be chosen according to a specific set of guidelines.
If you’re starting your own company, or your business is rather small, you may think it’s not the time to create an Identity Manual just yet. You might want to think again. Companies on the rise are among the ones who can benefit the most out of adopting a visual identity early on. It gives credibility and a sense of establishment beyond one’s belief, specially in the eyes of your customers. If you don’t have the resources to hire someone, at least use the elements we just showed you and try to have some consistency across your various outputs.
How to translate Corporate Identity into your slides?
Now that we know the basic elements of Visual Identity, let’s see how they can be translated into your slides!
A good way of keeping your brand on top of mind when you are presenting is to have your logo appear in your slides. Keep it subtle and discreet, along the border of the slide, but let it escort you along when you are giving your speech. If you are pitching your startup for the first time, it’s very likely people will forget its name the minute you pass the first slide, so make it easy for them to remember it!
Whatever colors you choose for your business, those should be used to create your presentation. Tools like Slidebean let you easily create custom color palettes using specific color codes. Just keep in mind color contrast: two colors of the same palette may not go well in a text + background combination. For more information on color choosing for presentations, check out this article.
Avoid default fonts at all costs. Since everybody uses them, it belongs to nobody in particular, and it represents no specific brand. Besides, it speaks poorly of the time you invested in designing your deck. A slight change in your typography can go a long way.
- Best Times New Roman Alternatives: Fonts to Avoid Default Fonts
- 5 free Calibri alternatives so you never use that font again
This is closely related to the tone of your Corporate Communication + Corporate Behaviour. Is the tone of your communications funny? informal? solemn? loud? Images should reflect this. Also, for the sake of a better world, avoid stock photos of people at a meeting room, posing towards the camera, nor any clip art of characters solving a puzzle, or the absolute worse: two guys in a suit shaking hands. Not only does it look absolutely hideous, but no one can relate to those images. They are super fake and make you look like an amateur.
Check out these great sources of photos, so you don’t have to use those awful photos ever again.
Let's get cracking!
Now that you know the essentials on building corporate identity, combine these elements in your next presentation and let it speak with a voice of its own! If you're not sure about your choices watch the webinar I hosted a while ago about making your slides look epic. Don't have the time? Check out these 5 Easy Ways to Dramatically Improve your Slides.