A corporation’s identity is made up of nine interrelated components. By examining each one and how it relates to the others, an organization can build a stronger brand.

What are our key offerings, and how do we want them to appeal to customers and other stakeholders?
What should be the nature of our relationships with key customers and other stakeholders?
What is our intended position in the market and in the hearts and minds of key customers and other stakeholders?
What is distinctive about the way we communicate and express ourselves and makes it possible to recognize us at a distance?
What do we promise, and what are the core values that sum up what our brand stands for?
What combination of human characteristics or qualities forms our corporate character?
What engages us (mission)?
What is our direction and inspiration (vision)?
What are our attitudes, and how do we work and behave?
What are we particularly good at, and what makes us better than the competition?

When we conduct our model workshops, we advise participants to follow these five guidelines:

1. Be concise.

Think of the short phrases you use in your answers as headings, under which you will later write more-detailed descriptions fleshing out the brand’s identity and story.

2. Be straightforward.

Avoid jargon and keep your responses uncomplicated. Less is more. IKEA describes its relationships as “Hello!”—reflecting in a single word a down-to-earth attitude in line with its core values.

3. Seek what is characteristic.

Capture words or concepts that resonate within your organization— A property company answered the personality question this way: “We are not sitting on a high horse.” A newly opened hotel described its customer relationships like this: “We treat rock stars as guests; we treat guests as rock stars.”

4. Stay authentic.

Some elements of your identity may already be firmly rooted in your organization. Be careful, to be honest in your expression of them. Some elements may be aspirational, calling for adaptation within the company if they are to ring true.

5. Seek what is timeless.

A corporate brand’s identity should be lasting—like this signature expression of one watchmaker: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” Forward-looking but rooted in the past, it has stood the test of time.

Every company’s model will be different but careful application eventually became the brand core and helps clarify your organizational identity.

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