When building a company you get many technical terms blown around the ears – “Distinctive feature”, “KPIs” and “brand perception”, my goodness! But there is a term that does not get as much attention as it deserves, even though it is the grandfather of all terms – corporate design.
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A pioneer of modern industrial design is Peter Behrens, German artist, architect and graphic designer. He justified the term corporate design and helped already at the beginning of the 20th century the large enterprise AEG to a uniform appearance.
When we say corporate design, we mean more than just traditional graphic design. It’s a collective term that covers both the strategy (like your branding) and the design (like your brand identity) of your corporate identity. It consists of the elements that you create (like your logo) and the reason why you design them in a certain way. Corporate Design tells your customers who you are and how you deliver your message. So it’s needless to say that it’s a pretty big deal.
But how exactly do you approach corporate design? Which are the most important components? And how do you create a corporate design that sets you above your competition and turns your ideal customers into lifelong supporters of your brand?
If you want to know the answers, just keep reading.
Why is corporate design important?
Before we get started on how to create the right corporate design for your business, let’s talk about why it matters so much.
It acts as your brand’s DNA
Your brand consists of your branding strategy and your designs – or in other words your corporate design. Essentially, the approach to corporate design is essentially the DNA of your business. It defines who you are, what you do, and why you do it, and that is damn important, is not it?
It leads you to where you want to go
Your corporate design is your roadmap for building your brand from the ground up. It describes who you are, where you stand and where you want to go. If you think of your company as a ship, your corporate design is the captain. It controls all your decisions, from what you want to design to how you want to design it.
It ensures that everyone is on board with their vision and direction
If you clearly outline your corporate design (both in terms of strategy and design), everyone will be on the same wavelength – making sure everything you bring out, whether it’s a new product or an advertising campaign, is in line with you your brand stands.
A step-by-step guide to corporate design
Okay, now that we have clarified why corporate design is so important, let’s get started on how to do it. Here is your step-by-step guide to how to create a corporate design from scratch.
Define your brand
First of all, before you start creating your corporate design, you need to determine who you are as a brand.
If you do not know who you are as a brand, it will be almost impossible to develop a corporate design. You have to define who you are so you can be sure that your corporate design fits your brand.
Before dealing with the strategy and design aspects of a corporate design, you need to be aware of the following:
- Who are you as a company?
- What do you stand for? (your mission and values)
- What sets you apart from your competitors (and what makes customers want to work with you)?
Once you have clarified these key elements of your brand, you can begin to build your strategy and design around them – and your corporate design is born.
You are just getting started and are not sure how to define your brand? Do not worry! It just means it’s time for some soul-searching.
If you’re having trouble defining your brand, ask questions like:
- What makes our company better than everyone else?
- What is the biggest compliment we have ever received from a customer?
- Why would someone want to work here?
- What good deed do we want to accomplish?
- If I could describe our brand in three words, which would it be?
- If our brand was a person, who would she be?
Asking these profound questions will help you gain insight into who you are as a brand. So you can set important cornerstones before you devote yourself to your corporate design. If you want to know more, here’s an article on .
The strategy page
As already mentioned, there are two main components in corporate design. A corporate strategy and brand design.
We start with the strategy because it is the foundation for the design process. Once you have your strategy, you can use it for your brand design.
When we say branding, we talk about the marketing strategy that you use to actively shape your brand. Your branding is the blueprint for how your brand should be perceived on the market. It will be a big part of determining which design elements you need, what they should look like, and what you will eventually do with them.
Your branding is about your customers, but the rest of the strategy side of your corporate design revolves around your team, starting with the corporate culture.
How you treat your team – and how they feel when they get to work – is just as important as dealing with your customers. Even if you are just starting out and a one-man business, it is important to establish a corporate culture that is true to your brand.
Are you the kind of brand that promotes new ideas? Do you expect your team to roll up their sleeves and get things done in a short time? Is the connection with your team on a personal level (say at a weekly happy hour) part of what you are trying to build up? Do you have a strong corporate mission statement behind which your team should / must stand?
The culture you create for your business is a big part of your corporate design. It will have a major impact on how you feel at work, on the products or services you produce, and how you ultimately perceive them in the marketplace. Therefore, it is important to make sure there is a strategy and a purpose behind your corporate culture.
Policies, procedures and procedures
Most companies have a pretty good idea of what they want to do. But far fewer companies have an idea of how they will do it.
Having the right policies, procedures and procedures is essential to your strategy. They are the magic in the background that makes sure your business runs like a well-oiled machine. Without them you are predestined to become the entrepreneurial equivalent of a headless chicken.
Remember – your policies, procedures and procedures will change and grow as your business evolves and that’s totally okay. But you still want to set a benchmark at the beginning and make sure you have the framework ready to succeed.
The design page
Now that we have clarified the strategy page, let’s continue with the brand design.
Here are the elements you’ll need to create your corporate design for you, your team and your clients in a tangible way:
First, you have to choose your colors. People have strong associations with colors and you can use those associations to your advantage. The colors you choose will play a big part in how your brand is perceived in the market, so you have to choose them wisely.
There is a whole science dedicated to the influence of color ( ). Here’s a quick rundown of the different colors, what they mean, and how you can use them to support your brand identity:
- Red: Looking for a loud, youthful and exciting mood? Take red, the color of passion and excitement.
- Orange: Orange is another exciting color, but it creates a friendlier and more playful atmosphere. It is not as common as red and is therefore more noticeable.
- Yellow: It’s probably no surprise that yellow – the color of the sun – is associated with cheerfulness. If you’re looking for a fun, fun and accessible vibe, Yellow is a great choice.
- Green: Green people usually think of two things – nature and money. If your brand has anything to do with either of these things, green will be the color in your brand design by itself.
- Blue: Blue is the most universal color on the planet. So if you want to appeal to a broad audience, the safest choice is yours. Blue is also associated with stability and trustworthiness. If you try to build trust with your target audience, Blue can help you with that.
- Violet: Purple, the color of the nobles, is a good choice if your brand is to be considered high quality or luxurious.
- Pink: Pink is a color traditionally associated with femininity. So, if you refer women to your products or services, you should at least think about that color.
- Brown: Brown is not a color that is common in brand design. But that can be a good thing! Dare to be different can help you stand out from the crowd. Brown is also a good choice if you want to be perceived as rough or masculine.
- Black: Black is all about class and perfection. If you’re looking for a sleek, modern feel, black is a great choice.
Next comes typography. Typography is exactly what it sounds like. The font (or font) you choose for your brand design. There are four major styles and each will give your brand design a different look.
- Serif fonts have an anchor (they look like little feet) at the end of each letter. This font is definitely more traditional and therefore a solid choice if you are looking for a more classic atmosphere for your brand design. Times New Roman is a timeless example of a serif typeface.
- Sans serif fonts (like Helvetica or Franklin Gothic) do not have those little feet. This font is characterized by soft corners and gives designs a more elegant, modern feel. Helvetica is a classic example of sans serif writing.
- If you have ever spent hours in elementary school perfecting the “Q” in script, the next font should seem familiar to you. Cursive scripts capture italic handwriting and are a great choice for making your brand design feel more luxurious, feminine or sophisticated. Allura is a classic example of a handwriting.
- Display fonts are the rebels of the whole group. Every script has its own special element that defines it; be it a particular shape or a handwritten mood (eg the “P” in the form of a lightning in the logo of Harry Potter). These fonts are great if you want to make a special statement and differentiate yourself from the competition.
If you want to know more about it, check out our article on .
Once you have your color palette and typography, it’s time to bring them together to design the most important of all the elements of your brand design – your logo.
Your logo is the face of your company. The crown jewels of your corporate design. It’s the design element that people will most associate with your brand. Therefore, it is super important that it is an accurate representation of who you are and how you want to be perceived.
Your logo should:
- Clearly communicate who you are as a brand
- Nice to look at (the logo design is simple and clean always the best)
- Outlast time (the last thing you want is to jump on a design trend that is out of style in a year)
- Make sense for your business and your industry
- Make a true and lasting impression on your target group
When you’ve finished your logo design, you can start building other elements around it. The things you will need depend on the nature of your business and goals, and may include:
- business card
- Social media
- Marketing materials and advertising materials
- Letterhead and business papers
The key to brand design is uniformity. Your customers should always have the same experience with your brand, whether they visit your website, wear one of your T-shirts, or read an advertising booklet. If your brand design is completely messed up, it will confuse your target audience – and ultimately harm your brand.
Corporate Design: your options
Okay, now that we know what corporate design is, and know the steps to create it, let’s talk about your options to make it happen.
As far as the strategy of your corporate design is concerned, it is important that you take the helm in your hand. You know who you are and where you want to go. Engaging someone who develops your business strategy for you is not just a waste of time and resources, but also the fastest way to a strategy that does not feel like you. Do yourself a favor and do it yourself.
Options to get your corporate design
The strategy should be a pure internal process, but when it comes to design, you have a few more options.
If you already have a lot of design experience and a good eye for design, you might choose to do it yourself and design your own designs. Remember that this is only recommended if you are very familiar with design. (Design is not easy, people!)
Internal design team
If you have a lot of design work to do, you can hire an internal designer or design team to design your design from the ground up. While this works for some companies, it can definitely be challenging for others. If you do not have a specific project for your team to work on, you’ll have to pay for it. That’s why many companies choose one of the next two options …
Engaging a freelancer can be a great way to get the design you need without having to hire someone full time. It’s more affordable and flexible, and once your project is over, you no longer have to worry about fixed costs.
An independent freelancer works only if you know exactly what you are looking for and can explain that vision to your designer. If not, you will waste a lot of time finding a concept and design that suits you. If you are not sure what you want, we recommend the last option …
Design contest for a brand identity
A corporate identity contest is the perfect option for companies who are not sure how to bring their idea of a brand design to life. With a design contest for a brand identity you write a design brief and the best designers from all over the world put their ideas, concepts and design together for your brand. You judge the designs, choose your favorite and pay only for the design you have selected. It’s simple, it’s straightforward and it’s the best way to get lots of ideas without having to pay for the time of many different designers.
If you are looking for a complete package, you should think about a design agency. Design agencies usually have great designers and can take care of everything from strategy to actual design. This kind of service will definitely cost you a little more. Design agencies may be high quality, but they are also extremely expensive. So if you have a tight budget, you should not forget that.
Corporate design is one of the most important concepts in the corporate world. Now that you know what it is and how to create it, you are well on the way to developing a corporate design that not only fits your brand, but also makes a lasting impression on your target audience.
We have just emailed you the first lesson.