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Corporate Identity Signage: Leverage your distinct strengths visually to outperform your peers.
Whether you’re in a closet-knit rural community or a vibrant downtown, signs are a familiar part of the overall experience.
Signs create excitement because it lets people know that they’ve reached their destination. They offer security by giving need-to-know information. And signs can offer trust and comfort like a friend who’s relaying a message.
But, in such a competitive world, how can your business’ identity be memorable?
You need to do something cohesive and bold. And maybe a little different. Think a bright red billboard with a partial golden yellow arch and a message that simply says, “next right.” Most would instantly know the corporate identity of the sign. (That’s McDonald’s for those who don’t do a lot of freeway driving).
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers research, a path to success is through strong corporate identity. In a survey of 720 executives, companies that were seen as having a stronger identity outperformed the others by 25% (in terms of average annual Total Shareholder Return over a three-year span). The success was based on knowing themselves well enough to leverage distinctive strengths to build a clear identity, resulting in the ability to outperform their peers.
Sure, not everyone has a 50-plus year old company with billions and billions served. But National Branding can research and develop the right corporate identity for your business — and the signage to support it — to help you stand out and reach both new and existing customers.
Before you can create (or re-create) a strong visual identity, know who you are as a business today.
This is one of the most challenging aspects in the corporate identity process. Think about it: Philosophers have been trying to help people answer the question of Who am I? for centuries.
The good thing about being a business? Answering that question is a bit easier — you just need to look at what’s distinguishable about your brand.
Let’s have an honest moment here: As much as we all love to point to our mission statements, what’s truly distinguishable about your brand typically cannot be found in there. They are important, but too vague to help. For example, “we are committed to delivering the highest quality and widest selection to our customers” is a great thing and it certainly adds to customer experience. However, it’s not a key attribute which distinctly positions your company in the marketplace.
Focus on what you do better than anyone else. And market that.
Look at our local entrepreneur Henry Ford. He was an inventor who knew how to build cars — as did many other businessmen at the turn of the 20th century. Noticing that a vehicle’s price point was limiting, Henry Ford challenged himself to mass produce cars to cut down the cost so middle-class people could have an affordable (no pun intended) new technology. That’s what he marketed. And it’s why Ford Motor Company was able to stand out from the competition and create an international business empire.
How do you know what distinguishes you from your competition?
What’s in it for me? And why you? We all ask these questions when making decisions — and your customers or clients are no different. It’s time to do some research. Here are some steps to take to decide what positions your business best:
Investigate and analyze your competition. By understanding where your competition stands, you will better know the direction you need to go to make yourself stand out. Things to look at: Competitor objectives (what’s their market share?), competitor history (check out past marketing messaging and engagement) and competitor strategy (read their about us or white papers and find any promotional campaigns — what are they really selling?).
Know what you do. After looking at your competition, what is the most compelling benefit that you offer to your customers? Ask yourself how your product or services stand out at saving your customers time/money and/or enhancing their lives. Take note of how your product or service is better.
Give customers a reason to believe. What is the most compelling evidence that you deliver on this? Think awards/accreditations, company history and reputation, and customer testimonials. How can you use these to distinguish yourself? Credibility goes a long way.
Want to dive even deeper into this? National Branding has a team of experts who can help.
There’s value in those differences
Once you figure out what makes you different, add a layer on. It’s that value you bring — how your product/ service solves a problem — that keeps people coming back for more. If you want your corporate identity to stand out, “plus” whatever you are doing so that your customer perceives you and your offering as superior to your competitors.
Let’s look at ways to leverage your business’ star power.
Decide which you do well — and consistently deliver. People want a quality product or service from an expert at a low price now. However, reasonable people know that even in the best set of circumstances, it’s not always feasible to get all of those things. But what can you deliver based on those wants? Or what combination of those can you consistently deliver?
Keep prioritizing customer service. The customer might not always be right, however being thoughtful in your approach to customer experience will always serve your company well. Positive word of mouth has always been good for business — and it spreads even faster today, thanks to social networks and review sites. The best way to boost the customer experience? Keep your employees informed, empowered and engaged with your company through regular communication and actively listening to their experiences and ideas.
Tie your product of service into how we are living. Watch for behavior trends and tap into that. As we all know, people are staying at home more now. So one way to add value is to make the home environment more enjoyable for your customer. Another one is that customers want to support companies that show corporate social responsibility, which is looking at your business from a people, planet, profit point of view.
By creating more value in the lives of your customers through what you do, deeper relationships are built and that leads to referrals, repeat business and demand pricing.
How exactly can I visually turn that into my corporate identity?
Once you know who you are as a business, it’s time to let everyone else know too. Corporate Identity signage is particularly critical because it is one of the most visual representations of your business. It reinforces your established brand, communicates information to your community (and beyond), adds trust, and enriches the customer experience.
More directly put, a sign’s attractiveness, legibility, quality and uniqueness can impact a business’ bottom line. To reach your customers, you need to clearly communicate your message.
Here’s what’s needed:
Logo. Sometimes the most obvious is overlooked. If you have a logo, do you feel the core shapes, colors and imagery still accurately reflects your business? If so, great. If not — or if you are just getting started — it’s time to develop a visual stamp of your company. You can start this process by choosing 5-7 words that you feel accurately describes your business, sketching ideas, and gathering feedback from stakeholders.
Color and typography. The key here is to keep it simple.A good color and typography palette gives enough choices to be creative but small enough where your customers will be able to recognize that the message is coming from you. When it comes to company colors, create a guide that includes a main color, a couple primary colors, and a handful — no more than seven — of complementary colors. When choosing your type, limit the number of font families at two or three. Remember: Not all of these need to go on your signage at once.
Design. Take all your gathered ideas and turn them into a cohesive look that tells people who you are and what you do well as a business. If you don’t have an in-house design team, find design experts who will uphold your business standards and messaging through creating the right look.
When creating a design plan, here are a few items to remember to update:
- Communication basic needs (business cards, letterhead, envelopes, mailing labels, shipping materials like boxes and packing tape)
- Signage/office environment (exterior and interior)
- Office/administrative (memos, order forms, invoices, company checks, internal process documents, employee onboarding package, etc.)
- Marketing materials (email blasts, brochures, sell sheets, catalogs, giveaways, etc.)
- Product packaging
- PowerPoint and other templates
- Website, social media platforms
- Tradeshow displays/booth
Fabrication. If you can dream it, it can be built. But first check local regulations and codes to make sure those dreams aren’t dashed before you begin. Operating within those parameters, look at function: What do you want your signs to do? Some signs need to be directional/informational to direct customers to where to park or an order pickup or identify where things are in your business space. Others signs are persuasive to announce special services or invite people in. Your outdoor sign needs to be big and tastefully attention-getting so people know where you are. With its large facility of fabrication equipment and skilled tradespeople, National Branding can make everything and properly install it. National Branding has experience with the big stuff — like exterior lighted building logos or monument LED signs — down to the little corporate identity business details that matter.
A plan for unveiling the new look. It’s time to share your look with the world. But before you share, there needs to be a plan in place so you have a seamless corporate brand roll. Your new look needs to be consistent with your audience whether they find you online, on social channels or in person.
National Branding knows that these updates need done with as little stress as possible. If you want 25-plus years of experience behind your brand roll out — all the while getting full transparency to each project through their app Brandboss — the National Branding team is ready to make it happen.
Keep it fresh. Just as you should review your brand every few years to determine if it’s ready for a makeover, regularly assess your business’ signage to see if it’s still doing its job. Even if you’re not quite ready to revamp your outdoor signage, updating your interior signs, banners and other temporary signage can give your business’s look — and message — current.