Corporate identity, sometimes seen written as CI, refers to the external “personality” projected by a corporation. The idea integrates the look and feel of designs and communications, along with the corporation's behavior. Companies of all sizes invest a great deal of energy in their identities, since the persona of a corporation often influences the way people think about the company. Many firms specialize in helping companies create an identity and control their public image.
The first aspect of corporate identity has to do with branding. The logo is often the center of branding, since it is an easily recognizable symbol that sets the corporation aside from other companies. Branding typically also includes a color scheme and a general look and feel across a product family that makes all products recognizable. For example, a tea company will use related designs for all of its packaging, allowing consumers to pick its products out from among the competitors.
The branding of some corporations is very familiar to many consumers, demonstrating how powerful the look and feel of company products can be. Most consumers around the world, for example, recognize the classic script font and red and white color scheme of the Coca-Cola® label, or the yellow and red color scheme of McDonald's. Consistency of branding is a large issue, as consumers may reject products with entirely different design schemes.
Communications is also an important part of corporate identity. Communications include things like advertisements, press releases, news features, and phone service. Usually, a company focuses on providing uniform communications that present the corporation in a positive light. These communications also encourage consumers to think of the company when they need a specific product or service.
Corporate behavior and ethics are a crucial component of its identity as well. Since some consumers actually base their buying habits on how companies act, many focus on presenting a very specific image. For example, a company may promote its use of green energy, the rejection of sweatshop labor, or products manufactured in a specific country. Publicly scrutinized members of the corporation are also generally expected to behave impeccably, ensuring the consumers think of the company in a good light.
Managing corporate identity is serious business, especially in a crowded market. Specialists may work extensively with companies before they launch, and every time they introduce new products or services. These specialists ensure that the company is acting in a way that is consistent with its identity, keeping the company's position in the market strong.