Crash Course Developing an Identity

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When you set up the business, corporate identity wasn't exactly top of your shopping list. Your mother-in-law came up with the name, and your friend, who's a graphic designer, did a nice job on the stationery. But now the letterhead looks just a teeny bit amateurish, and you're not sure if you're sending out the right signals to customers. So how can you go about creating a coherent and distinctive identity for your enterprise?

UNDERSTAND WHAT AN IDENTITY IS. Says Ian Rowland-Hill, chief executive of the Design Business Association: `Many smaller companies don't really understand what corporate identity can do for their business. They often think it is no more than a logotype.' Your logo is a key aspect of your identity. But it should also embrace every way that your company presents itself to the outside world, from the styling of your office reception to the way your receptionists greet your clients. It should encapsulate your values, and tell customers the type of business you are. It may even involve a change of name.

CALL IN THE PROFESSIONALS. The Nike 'swoosh' was reportedly created by an art student for $30. But the implementation is almost as important as the visual solution and consultants have a rational process for creating an identity, which usually includes the following elements: research and investigation: formulation of brief; creative proposals: development; acceptance; implementation; and production of guidelines.

INVOLVE YOUR PEOPLE. 'You need to make sure that by the time you launch your new identity, your people will be happy with it,' says Claire Fuller, managing director of consultants Bamber Forsyth. 'Discuss the brief with staff, and take account of their views. Explain why you have decided on the identity you have: even if they don't like it, they will see the logic,' says Fuller.

CREATE A VISION STATEMENT. Most consultants believe that articulating in words what the company is trying to achieve is an invaluable step towards creating an identity. …


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