What is corporate design?
Corporate design is the visual part of the corporate identity. It includes all design components of a company’s appearance such as LOGO, typography, imagery, COLORS or ICONS. A professional corporate design is always strategically based, i.e. it makes visible and tangible what a company stands for. As an essential part of successful corporate management, the goal is to develop a consistent and attractive image that is immediately recognized by the target group.
Why is corporate design important?
True to the motto “A picture is worth a thousand words,” corporate design has the task of visualizing a company’s attitude, values and performance at a glance. In order to attract the attention of potential customers or to convey the added value that a company generates, an attractive, unmistakable appearance is essential. A successful corporate design helps a company
- stand out from the competition
- generate recognition value
- strengthen the corporate identity
- to bind potential customers or employees to the company
Corporate design is, in a way, the facade of a company. It should look inviting and promising so that people want to know what is behind it. Therefore, the external image and the lived corporate culture should always correspond with each other!
What is a design agency?
Design agencies are companies that specialize in the development of corporate design concepts and their design. A mostly interdisciplinary team develops a visual image that successfully positions the company in the market. Design agencies thus provide the creative basis for the entirety of visual and cross-media communication media, such as the website, business cards, flyers and advertisements. Most corporate design agencies work across industries and develop concepts regardless of company size or form.
What does a design agency do?
Companies and organizations work with design agencies to have a corporate identity created and to receive support in the new development of a corporate design or in the process of a corporate design relaunch. An important service that corporate design agencies provide is advising their clients on how to translate their corporate strategy into design.
How to develop a corporate identity that aligns with the strategy
At the beginning of the ideally iterative process, the basics of the brand identity are worked out together. With the help of a BRAND WORKSHOP, decision-makers and staff of a company have the chance to take a new look at and define BRAND PURPOSE, BRAND VALUES and BRAND ARCHITECTURE. By means of a competition and target group analysis, the brand development agency develops a promising BRAND POSITIONING. In the case of a company that has already been operating in the market environment for some time, the brand strategy agency analyzes the company with a BRAND AUDIT for potential with regard to a BRAND STRATEGY. If a start-up or an organization is newly founded, a new brand or product is launched, the corporate identity agency helps to create a BRAND NAME that reflects the identity of a company including its value proposition.
Strategic brand development
For the new development or the consistent management of a brand or a company, basics are needed that clearly define the positioning in the market environment. Target groups, offer, values and USP are evaluated and defined with the help of analyses, interviews and a workshop. Deliverables and methods include:
Target group research, e.g. using Sinus-Milieus & Buyer Personae
Brand Purpose Board
On the basis of defined target groups, values, purpose, and goals, communicative concepts are developed, which contribute to the brand identity and address potential customers and other stakeholders. Tasks and methods include:
- Tonality & Wording
- Communication concepts
- Core messages and messaging
The brand name is often the first point of contact with a brand or company. Starting from a defined brand or company identity, the design agency generates a name that catches, reflects the company’s performance and attitude, can be legally protected and is not yet taken. Tasks and methods include
- Name development
- Domain search and domain reservation
- Accompanying trademark registration
Create a corporate design
A corporate design is more than a logo or a website. It is the holistic translation of the individual corporate identity into a visual appearance. It expresses the personality of the brand or company through characteristic shapes, colors and photography. The goal: an unmistakable overall image that shows what makes the company stand out. In the process of creating a consistent corporate design, the design agency develops logo design and the color scheme, defines image style and typography, and designs infographics and iconography. In the process, each design decision is strategically argued and derived. To ensure consistent implementation of the corporate design across all media – through internal departments as well as external trades – a design agency documents the design system in brand guidelines. They summarize all elements of the corporate design and contain rules for a compliant application. Once the visual identity is finalized, the design agency creates various communication tools, depending on the company’s needs: a website, templates for social media, reports, print media or more.
Corporate design development
Based on an existing or jointly developed brand identity and brand strategy, the design agency brings it to life through creative means. By means of word and figurative marks, appropriate fonts, colors, grids, imagery and other graphic elements, a perceptible image of what a company is all about on the inside is created. Tasks and methods include
- Personality Sliders
- Image research
- Color systems
- Type systems
When do you need corporate design?
A corporate design ensures that the company or brand presents itself consistently and recognizably, regardless of place, time or medium. Therefore, it is inevitable to deal with the appearance. Whether, small or medium-sized company, non-profit organization or global corporation – whether a brand is positively noticed is decided within seconds. For an authentic, confidence-inspiring appearance that appeals to the target group, it is therefore worthwhile to define and apply a consistent design right from the start. Services and products should be presented in an appealing way and thus established in the minds of the target group. Without a set of rules, there is a risk of visual uncontrolled growth that sends out different signals and leads to the brand not being (re)recognized as such. The task of corporate management is not only to ensure the consistent implementation of the design, but also to check whether the current corporate design is still in line with corporate and social developments. If this is no longer the case, elements are revised, expanded or newly developed with a rebranding.
How much does corporate design cost?
Corporate design costs vary depending on the scope of the project and the size and expertise of the design agency. The Alliance of German Designers has drawn up a remuneration agreement that provides orientation for designers and companies in the calculation of services. The design compensation agreement (VTV Design) of the AGD sets an hourly rate of 105.00 € per hour (net). Accordingly, the following guideline values result:
Complex coordination processes across several hierarchical levels and corresponding process structures within a company generally lead to higher efforts and thus correspondingly higher costs. Corporate design costs should be listed transparently in an offer and it should be clear which services will be provided in concrete terms. Conversely, one should not haggle over every euro. According to economic logic, tough negotiations usually lead either to services being cut or to the set-up being adjusted. Consider your corporate design or rebranding as a long-term, veritable investment: (Potential) customers, future talents, partners and other stakeholders experience the corporate design at almost every point of contact with the company. Your corporate design is the silent ambassador of your company – 24/7. where you can’t see a thing.
Who provides corporate design?
Design, unlike medicine or architecture, is not protected by title or process. Whether a design agency is good and suits you depends on your own requirements and the quality standards the agency sets for itself. The following list shows who can offer corporate design:
It may be that a large company has its own designers on staff or even its own design department. The advantage of hiring them to develop a corporate design is that they are already well acquainted with the company, its services and structures. However, a corporate design is not “just” about the design of graphic elements, but about strategic decisions that form the basis for strategic concepts. A UX/UI designer or graphic designer can be a good designer in his or her field, but this does not automatically mean that he or she has the experience or expertise to translate a company’s personality visually. The necessary distance from the product or company is another argument for hiring an external agency specializing in strategic design when hierarchical obligations and a certain “operational blindness” obscure the view of problems and solutions. In-house designers should, however, be involved in the project – they must ultimately implement the corporate design.
Corporate design agency
A corporate design agency often focuses its services exclusively on the development of strategic and visual corporate identities; in other words, they are experts in this field. They bring together strategy and design to create a holistic corporate image. For this purpose, a company is examined from different perspectives in order to translate personality and USP into a design system. A corporate design agency offers a holistic corporate profile from a single source – strategically sound and applicable across all media.
Advertising agencies often act as full-service agencies and are known as all-rounders for communication. However, a wide range of services does not necessarily mean that all areas are equally well mastered. Here you should urgently distinguish between advertising and brand development and ask yourself what you need for your brand: A campaign serves to draw increased attention to a product, service or offer within a short period of time. A corporate identity and a corporate design are a long-term orientation of the brand in terms of communicative and visual presentation. CD and CI are the basis, according to whose strategy and system an advertising campaign should be aligned. Hiring an advertising agency for a corporate design is only recommended if the agency can demonstrate expertise in strategic design and appropriate references. Large agencies also bring with them a higher overhead, which must also be factored in financially accordingly. Basically, the scope of the design project, the size of your own company and the size of the budget should match the size of the agency.
Digital agencies, as the name suggests, focus on digital applications. The main focus is on how well a design “works” and not primarily on what emotions and messages a design triggers. Individual functions are scrutinized more closely and the company is not necessarily viewed from a holistic strategic perspectiveWhen it comes to implementing apps, websites and other digital formats, a digital agency can be a good choice. Since the formats here are also based on the corporate design, an agency specializing in brand development should define this basis in advance! Your website is not your brand. It is a brand touchpoint.
Who takes part in a corporate design project?
When a corporate design is developed with an external agency, strategists and corporate designers work together to create an effective and consistent image. In order for a design project to be carried out in a goal-oriented manner, there are essential project members on the corporate side who should be involved in the development. If a corporate design is developed for individual entrepreneurs or small organizations, the project structure is naturally correspondingly leaner:
- Decision-makers: There are those within the company who are responsible for approving a new corporate design. They should be involved in strategically decisive steps from the very beginning. If you don’t bring the C-level on board until the end of the journey, you run the risk that all the work will have been for nothing.
- Marketing Manager: You have in-depth knowledge of the brand, target audiences and communication challenges. They can give the agency insights into the day-to-day work and in the end they are also the people who work most comprehensively with the brand concept.
- Sales: Through their direct interaction with (future) clients and customers, their knowledge is very valuable.
- Product developer: A corporate design is the visualization of a company’s performance and characteristics, its services and products. A comprehensive knowledge of the offer and the identification of special features is relevant for strategy and design.
- Designer: A corporate design must be implemented. It is helpful for a successful implementation if designers in the company follow and understand creative processes of the project.
- Project Manager: For a corporate design, people from different departments and organizations come together. In order to carry out processes efficiently, it is good to define a person who takes responsibility for the project and acts as a contact person:in for the agency.
A new corporate design is a challenge that most companies do not have to face on a regular basis in their day-to-day work. That’s why it can be overwhelming at first to set up such a project and make the right decisions. This overview should help you to assess what a good strategic design is, which factors are important for a successful project design and finally to find the right agency partners for your corporate design.