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Business Identities
It's a fact, British Businesses are looking to their image to enable them to compete more effectively at home, and within an ever evolving Global market. There's more to any organisation's reputation than simply a good name. Think of any product, or service you buy, and chances are you'll be thinking of a brand, or a company. Now think why you chose that particular brand, or organisation. Your brain's subconscious recalled a definite and positive image. This probably comprised a company, or brand name, and its colourways, positive graphic treatment, logotype, and symbol. There are many reasons why you might have recalled that particular product, or company, but image must surely top the list, followed by familiarity, personal experience, pedigree and heritage. The right image not only gets a business noticed, but gets a positive response from existing and potential buyers for its products, or services.

Coca Cola Marlboro CigarettesFor some companies like Coca-Cola, Hoover, and Sellotape their company name has become synonymous with a specific quality brand and a generic for all such products in the same category. Colourways reinforce any brand proposition. Gold cigarette packets are perceived as Benson and Hedges, Red Cola cans, or PET labels as Coca-Cola, even red pocket knives are seen as coming from the Swiss Army. Swiss Army Knife OrangeThen there's graphic devises like the Coca-Cola wave, British Airways speedwing, or the Marlboro triangle. All these complementary elements come together in an organisations corporate identity to create a strong and memorable image. Who'd have imagined buying a cell phone simply for the fact everything about its image was Orange, or a plastic card simply because it had a Goldfish on it. Such is the inherent power of effective image presentation.

A good identity is the best advertisement for any business!
An effective image begins with the company, or organisation itself. It starts with its corporate identity. To be effective in the increasingly competitive global market place a company must create an image for itself and its products, or services that meets all the following criteria;

  • Effectively and positively differentiates it from its competitors.
  • Reflects its philosophy, and inherent personality.
  • Appeals to employees, customers and shareholders alike.
  • Is standardised wherever it is applied - stationery, signage, vehicle livery, uniforms, print and packaging.
  • Is both relevant and unique to that organisation, or enterprise.
  • Has a positive influence on potential purchasers of its products, or services.
  • Is easy to recognise, assimilate and recall.

What's in an identity?
An identity enables change to happen, and both effects and reflects that change internally within any organisation, and externally to all target audiences.

It is a valuable design, marketing and Human Resources tool, for it positively influences every part of an organisation internally, and every one of that organisation's external audiences. Creating, or updating your image can often be an extremely cost effective and valuable exercise. A new identity draws on many items already in existence and both evolves and restructures these so as to solicit a more positive reaction to any organisation from employees, shareholders, and customers alike.

What does your image say about you?
Any identity manifests itself in three highly visible areas, yet its impact goes much further to affect and influence the behaviour of staff, investors, customers and suppliers, by creating a positive feeling for your operation.

    Visually, it manifests itself in three main areas -
  • Products or services, by telling people what you make, or do.
  • Environments, by suggesting where you sell those products and services.
  • Communications, by helping to explain how you do what you do.

What's the big idea?
Red RibbonEvery good identity begins with a big idea, or concept at its nucleus. This frequently comprises three critical parts - a name, a symbol and a typestyle. Any name must attractively reflect the personality of the organisation, or brand in question, but above all be meaningful and approachable for your target audiences. Symbols are often blended into an identity to solicit an emotional and often subconscious positive feeling from an audience. Take for example the Christian Cross, or more recently the red ribbon developed to increase and advertise Aids awareness. Both are simple, but highly effective and memorable visual devices, with emotive connotations in-built. Typestyle is important too, for it must not only be sympathetic to the organisation and its character, but also highly legible. Add a splash of complementary colour to this mix and you've got a memorable image, that will remain front of mind.

Four simple steps to a better image
There are four basic stages in the development of any organisation's identity. Firstly, it is necessary to investigate and analyse what any organisation is about to determine its corporate personality, and exactly what it makes or does for whom. This process enables a clear strategy to be defined. This is then translated into a design brief from which initial concepts are produced. These first stage concepts are then refined by degrees until the desired corporate identity is arrived at. At this stage any image is little more than a flat colour visual of the corporate identity demonstrated in application to a letter heading, business card and other stationery. Once design has been approved, it is necessary to plan and phase implementation of the new identity across all items that will bear it. These include signage, vehicle livery, literature, packaging, exhibitions, in fact every item that bears an organisation's logo. The final stage concerns itself with the optimum implementation of the design wherever necessary with the least disruption to the organisation concerned.

Why does any organisation need an effective identity?
To communicate itself and its proposition to internal and external audiences so as to be viewed in the best possible light, and thereby effectively and positively differentiate itself from its competitors at their expense.

Any new brand, or new organisation needs an identity as a launch platform from which to communicate its proposition. Firstly a brand name, or trading title must be originated. Once this has been agreed, a complementary and sympathetic visual style has to be developed as a means of communicating the brand, or organisation to its publics.

BTA good identity has the longevity of inherent style, and is not faddish, or fashionable. However market conditions, environmental concerns, and competitor activity all create their impact over time , necessitating an update to any organisation's identity. Some organisations re-present themselves to fight off hostile take-over bids, others on account of mergers and acquisitions, some merely because a competitor has adopted a new image. ICISome updates, such as BT's move from the British Telecom 'T' to the current piper are revolutionary, whilst others such as BP, Shell and ICI are evolutionary. Whatever the reason, an effective identity will pay dividends to any organisation, and allow it to maintain a competitive advantage. Yet any identity will only truly work if any organisation's employees are committed to it, and to ensuring that it is standardised wherever it appears. A good corporate identity is the best advertisement for any organisation. Standardisation of the image is essential to create the desired emphasis, awareness and recall for any brand, business, or service.

HeinzBuilding on a successful identity
A corporate identity can be used to endorse any unite any number of disparate products offered by a manufacturer, as in the case of Heinz, where the Heinz logo is used as an integral feature on diverse product types ranging from beans, through condiments, to ready meals.
VirginIt can also be used in a monolithic manner, as in the case of Richard Branson's Virgin empire. The Virgin identity first appeared as a record label, then as a music store fascia board. Since then it has been used to good effect to unite many products and services including a Cola, a vodka, an airline, a radio station, bridal stores, and financial services. It is shortly to be introduced as Virgin Cars on the Internet.

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