Corporate image: Creating a great story

As consumers, we’re immersed in a society full of logos, corporate identities and brands. But for our clients, how do we express the importance of corporate image?

I’ve worked on all aspects of corporate image, from designing bespoke logos, to creating and maintaining visual identity systems to building strong brand personalities. Though each element is as important as the other, it’s when they work together that the magic happens – creating a unique corporate image that resonates with the audience.

Corporate image is a big topic, with major publications dedicated to each of these three elements. I want to describe an analogy I use that helps me quickly explain the concept.

When talking about corporate image, I find it helps to visualise the subject in the form of a book. Logos are the book’s cover, corporate identity systems are the story and brand is the underlying theme. All come together to produce a memorable experience that an audience can connect with.

Logo is the cover of your book

A book cover is designed to provide a summary of story and theme in a way a reader will identify with in an instant. A well designed logo gives a good idea of what a company does and what it stands for. Both a cover and logo can be produced in a number of different ways – typographic, illustrative or photographic for example – but it must communicate the essence of what follows.

Like a book cover, a logo can change over the years and you may even wish to have multiple logos in place at the same time. Whatever you decide, it must rapidly connect your consumers with the story and theme your company stands for.

Visual identity is your story

The elements contained in a book combine to produce a coherent and complete story. The audience must be inspired to engage with the story, being drawn in and taken on a journey that is recognisable and compelling – a real page turner! The story is the most flexible element and can be as creative as you wish, introducing twists and turns to produce an experience that generates excitement through characters, relationships, settings and events.

Remember, though story and theme need to be linked: in the same way a visual identity system’s purpose is to reinforce and communicate your central theme.

Brand is your central theme

The central theme of a book is its essence or message – what it is really all about. It is the emotional impression experienced whilst looking at the cover and when reading the story from beginning to end. The theme must leave readers, or consumers, wanting more and creating an excitement that will, ultimately, be recommended to others.

In summary, a great book and corporate image have a lot in common – both need inspiration, dedication and audience participation to be successful and both should not be looked at as a set of individual elements but as a whole. Everything you do, from the characters involved, to the tone of voice to the emotional connection, are part of your corporate image and should reflect the essence of the story you wish to tell.