Friday, June 8, 2012

Discover How Values Drive The Visual Expression Of The Corporate Identity

Copyright (c) 2012 altura brand identity

A well managed Corporate identity programme is not just about the design of a logo or symbol. Before you can begin to visually express the Corporate identity you will need to build the right Foundations. For me at the heart of these Foundations are:
• Core values,
• Customer value proposition,
• Substantiators (for the customer value proposition),
• Personality,
• Essence,
• Corporate identity architecture.

Getting this right will help articulate your organisation's ethos, aims, values and will differentiate your organisation from your competitors. But it's Values that are the key driver for the visual expression of the corporate identity.

Why? Values are specific and unambiguous. They are:
• fundamental and the DNA of an organisation,
• with the organisation for the long term,
• the guiding principles that cause people, who represent the organisation, to think and behave in certain ways,
• not the same as vision or mission as they enable vision, mission and goals to be achieved.

If Values are the DNA then they should absolutely drive the visual expression in part or as a whole. Lets look at some examples of values of three organisations.

• Focus on the user and all else will follow. The interface is clear and simple. Pages load instantly. Placement in search results is never sold to anyone. Advertising on the site must offer relevant content and not be a distraction. It's best to do one thing really, really well. Fast is better than slow. Democracy on the web works. You don't need to be at your desk to need an answer. You can make money without doing evil. There's always more information out there. The need for information crosses all borders. You can be serious without a suit. Great just isn't good enough. - google

Visual expression will be so different to an organisation that has:
• Value for money, quality, innovation, fun and a sense of competitive challenge - Virgin

And very different to one that has the following values:
• Integrity, performance, people, responsibility, safety, service - BBA Aviation plc

Values are not internal or external - they are relevant to everyone who has a relationship with the business. A set of values should cover all stakeholders. Not each value must do this, but the set of values taken as a whole, should address and be relevant to all stakeholders. Realism should guide your judgment in writing a statement of values. To base the statement on what we are currently confidently capable of is the wiser starting point. To allow values to be hijacked by hyperbole will devalue them. Any values that are written to inspire us to reach new heights should have committed resources behind them.

For values to stick and become actionable and to make a difference, they must be translated into specific responses to known issues and requirements in your business. Clarity in this translation from the principle to the actionable is vital to success with values. If, for example, a company states that a key value is to always deliver on its promises, then it must go on to clarify what qualities in people, what policies, processes, disciplines and skills ensure that promises are made very carefully and that delivery will be reliable every time.

Corporate Identity:
• ensures an image consistent with the organisation's defining ethos, character and values,
• provides the visual cohesion necessary to ensure that all corporate communications are coherent with each other,
• presents a sense of individuality that can help to differentiate the organisation within its competitive environment,
• is a powerful means of integrating the many disciplines and activities essential to an organisation's success,
• it helps organisation to build understanding and commitment among its diverse stakeholders,
• is a powerful means of integrating the many disciplines and activities essential to an organisation's success,
• attracts and retain customers and employees • helps achieve strategic alliances, gain the support of financial markets and generates a sense of direction and purpose.

If Values are the DNA that drives the organisation and Corporate identity ensures an image consistent with the organisation's defining ethos, character and values, it is clear to me that the Visual expression of the Corporate identity must reflect the values wholly or in part.

Chris is an independent corporate and brand identity designer, based in London. Most of the work undertaken by altura is driven by change such as growth through acquisition, de-merger, repositioning, new culture, new products and services. Chris helps companies build their brands through appropriate strategy and creative expression. Clients are in the aerospace, industrial, manufacturing, financial and service sectors.

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