What is corporate branding and why is it important?
Corporate branding refers to the brand name of a corporate entity, as opposed to specific products or services that sit inside it. The role and function of your corporate brand will be dependent on the brand architecture framework and the degree of separation required between the brands within your portfolio.
To understand more about the role of corporate branding in your overall brand architecture, download our Introduction to brand architecture or if you are a B2B organisation, our Guide to brand architecture for B2B organisations.
Corporate branding is becoming more important as the marketplace becomes increasingly digitised and customers expect complete transparency from the larger organisations of the world, particularly in FMCG where consumers are wanting to make more conscious decisions and support responsible organisations.
A corporate brand goes beyond product branding by focusing less on product features and more on a set of well-defined values.
Strong corporate brands stem from a clear strategic vision and compelling organisational purpose, combined with employees who understand, believe and behave in a way that supports the vision and purpose of the business. Corporate brands are also built and strengthened over time through visible, consistent actions and communications to the market.
There are a number of catalysts that spark a strategic review of your corporate brand, including mergers & acquisitions, the changing business environment, new competitors entering the market, attracting the best and brightest talent and changes in strategic direction. Whatever the reason, a rebrand or refresh is an opportunity to spark new interest and attention to your brand.
In the world of corporate branding, consistency has always been paramount. However, when it comes to staying relevant and contemporary, it is wise for corporate brands to continuously and strategically review their positioning and identity within their marketplace so that they remain front of mind, stay ahead of existing competitors and combat newer entrants into the market.
When reviewing or undertaking a refresh of your corporate brand, subtlety is often the key. Smaller, incremental changes over time can keep a corporate brand fresh without wholesale changes.
A finely tuned corporate brand refresh can provide the necessary changes and updates that an organisation needs to ensure they don’t start to look tired. This agility of small, more frequent changes, in the form of more subtle logo and/or visual identity evolutions, can help companies adapt to the ongoing changes confronting today’s fast-paced, disruptive business environment.
If we were to look to the professional services landscape, we have seen incremental adjustments of both the logos and visual identity of a range of prominent corporate brands such as McKinsey & Company, KPMG and Boston Consulting Group, all with the intention of repositioning their brand so it stands out more effectively in their competitive context.
There is enormous potency in these brands and their ongoing endeavour to migrate the equity of their brand over time. This has allowed them to contemporise their profile and engage with both current and future clientele on an ongoing basis.
In the BCG example, their corporate brand refresh was a direct reflection of a desire to move away from the very traditional visual language of the past, one that was more related to the firm’s somewhat traditional demeanour and heritage of high fees. Now, with a much more tech-informed management consulting offering, the brand has been able to signal its entry into a new phase, reflecting instead where the business is moving in the future. It is an effort to simultaneously appeal to existing clients, as well as a more global, more modern, more connected and bolder client base.
In the consulting world, it seems like every advisory firm is enhancing and expanding its technological capabilities, or at the very least positioning itself as a ‘digital’ firm. ‘Digital’ informs every consulting area, from strategy to operations to HR, so firms have been boosting their tech know-how – and inevitably changing up their corporate branding and communications to show just how digital they are.
The central objective of a corporate brand refresh project is to elevate a business from its current positioning, and in some situations, reflect a renewed strategic intent or direction for the organisation.
A brand refresh project is not simply an exercise in making the logo and identity appear different, it reflects a strategic evolution in a business’ strategy and positioning, it must be built from research and insights and it needs to ensure that it reflects the appropriate level of change occurring or expected within a business.
There are a number of additional considerations for senior marketers to think about before embarking on a refresh of their corporate brand. If you are grappling with building a case for a corporate refresh project, or if indeed you have made the decision, ask yourself the following questions.
Does your corporate brand logo and identity…
If you have answered yes to some (or all) of the above, then your corporate brand is likely to benefit from a refreshed logo and/or visual identity. These are not only pertinent questions to the marketing team, but the responses will also be relevant to those across your C-Suite, and they will help you make a more convincing business case for a proposed project.
By bringing evidence, rationale and strategic thinking to your approach for a brand refresh initiative, there will be less pressure to sell in your recommendations as you will be able to provide the evidence of a need within the organisation for some percentage change in the corporate brand identity.
At BrandMatters, we specialise in insight-led strategic brand projects including brand architecture reviews and rebranding. We help extract and articulate the nuance in strategic direction change within our clients’ businesses, and then transfer this knowledge to our in-house creative experts who design outputs that match this internal business appetite.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can align your corporate brand logo and identity to the refreshed strategic intent of your organisation, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ve executed projects for clients across a range of B2B and financial services organisations including Perpetual, Suncorp, Wesfarmers, Professionals, Greencap, amongst many others.
And if you’d like to understand more about the ‘what, when, where, why and how’ of refreshing or rebranding your corporate brand, please feel free to download our dedicated resource, The refreshing guide to rebranding, where we explore these concepts in more detail and help you develop a manageable, strategic approach for your organisation.