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Corporate Identification Program

By: Avinash Narula

My first real job was with the Farm Equipment Division of Escorts selling tractors. I was really impressed with the way Escorts had established its Corporate Identification Program for the company as well as for its dealers. In those days (1970-80s), Escorts dealer network was not only the strongest in terms of its reach and resources but also had a very strong street and store presence in terms of standardized signboards, end-rack boards for the spare parts department, color scheme of the vans and motorcycles. Sincethen, I have strongly felt that every company should have a Corporate Identification Program which will result in a number of benefits as follows:

1. Building of a strong brand image.
2. High level of street and store presence will result in higher brand recall.
3. Impressive store presence results in customer confidence as well as in higher sales.
4. Uniformity in design for easy brand recognition 

Corporate Identification Programme

Corporate Identification Program of a company has two components. One for the company called the Company Identification Program (CIP) and the other for its distribution network including the dealers, wholesalers and retailers called the Distribution Identification Program (DIP)

Company Indentification Program (CIP)

A Company Identification Program (CIP) refers to a standardized combination of one or more of the various design elements like logo, color and style of writing which will be used in all company communications and whenever anything related to the company is printed anywhere in the world. This is necessary so that everybody, both outside and inside the company, see the company represented in a uniform and consistent manner all over the world. CIP will not only enhance the image of the company but also assist everybody in recognizing the company’s offices and products. It is absolutely critical for building the brand.

Distribution Identification Programme (DIP)

Distribution Identification Program (DIP) is similar to the CIP.DIP assists the members of the company’s distribution network to be easily identified by its customers. This includes not only printed material but also in some cases, even the layout and design of the facilities of the members of the distribution network.

Elements of CIP / DIP

(a) Logo

The most important element is the logo. It should be noted that an impressive and properly designed logo enhances the quality as well as the presentation of any advertising and promotional material of a company without any additional cost. However, I have seen companies trying to save money on designing cost while developing their logos. With the focus on branding increasing in India, companies are now getting a little more serious about getting their logos designed by professionals.

(b) Name of the company and brand

The style in which the name of the company or the brand is to be written is also specified. Different combinations of the placement of the logo and the name of the company and brand are also specified. This is necessary because at times different sizes and shapes of printed material are developed and use of just one placement combination of the logo and brand name may become a constraint. For instance, two very common formats are when the logo and the name can be written in vertical and horizontal format. For instance, if only horizontal format is specified, it can be a constraint to use the same in a classified advertisement where the width is quite narrow. In such a case, the logo as well as the name will not be very prominent. However, in a classified advertisement a vertical format of the logo and the name would be more suitable.

(c)   Font

The font in which the name of the company and brand as well as the address of the company will be printed is specified. Some companies give a couple of options of fonts which can be used in all advertising and promotional material of the company. A multinational company that we work for had identified Helvetica Inserat, Avenir and Berkeley as the fonts that can be used in their advertising and promotional material. Their Corporate Identification Programme suggests that Helvetica Inserat should be used for headlines as it is bold, distinctive and gives a strong American feel. This company has also specified substitute fonts in cases where the above fonts are not available. The same company also makes recommendations in terms of some other aspects of typography. It suggests that the body copy should be set with fairly open line and paragraph spacing while the headlines should be closely leaded.

According to ICICI Bank’s corporate identity manual, its corporate font is Zurich BT. Fonts from the Zurich and Universe family (if Zurich is not available) is recommended.

(d) Font sizes

Font sizes are also specified for different pieces of printed material like letterheads, visiting cards, envelopes, invoices and other printed material.

(e) Color

Color is a very important component of the Corporate Identification Program. ICICI Bank’s corporate identity manual identifies the CMYK color, ink color as well as the Pantone shades to be used for its logo/corporate colors for printing on coated and uncoated paper. It also specifies Pantone Shades as well as Asian Paint Shades for printing its logo / corporate colors on a hoarding.

ICICI Bank’s corporate identity manual further prohibits the use of black color except for text and as background color in TV commercials.

(f)   Space

Space here refers to the space to be allowed between different design elements. Some examples are given below:

1. Distance of the logo from the edges of the paper
2. Space to be left between the logo and the name of the company or the brand.
3. Various space specifications for the letterhead, visiting cards and other stationary items.

(g) Signages

Various different designs of signages for the company offices, factories, godowns and showrooms are specified.

Distribution Identification Program

DIP is a part of the Corporate Identification Program. This is very important for companies that sell their products through a distribution network. Development of DIP is also important from the point of view of street and store presence. Escorts used to have a very elaborate and effective DIP.

DIP is somewhat similar to CIP. Standard designs are prepared for various elements required to bring about standardization in the way the company’s distribution network will be visible to the company’s target market. What elements will be included in the DIP will depend on the nature of the industry, the type of product and the nature of the distribution network. To give you an idea, let me list some of the elements of DIP required for the distribution network of an automobile / tractor company:

1. Signages for dealers, spare part stockists and service centres. These signages should provide space for the name ofthe dealer, spare parts stockist and service centre.

2. Road signs which are placed outside the dealership so that the same can be identified from far by a person travelling on the road. These are quite common in the case of petrol pumps also.

3. Standard stationary items for the members of the distribution network such as letterheads, visiting cards, envelopes, invoices and receipts.

4. Some standard designs of product advertisements that dealers can use for local advertising.

5. Color design for the motorcycles and vans (including service vans) or other vehicles used by a dealership for business purposes.

6. Some standard designs and layout of showroom and workshop facilities.

7. Standard designs of uniforms for workshop staff.

8. Hoarding designs

9. Display signs

10. End-rack boards for the spare parts department.

11. Internal marketing material for in-store advertising (eg. Posters)

12. Display racks

Depending on your product and the type of distribution network, you can develop a DIP which is an extension of the CIP. Together, they should create a feeling of “family” so that everything related to the brand is easily recognizable. A well-developed and conceptualized CIP and DIP will assist in building a strong consistent brand. However, as mentioned before, the CIP and DIP should be flexible to meet the needs of different target audiences, cultures and local media environments.

Ford, General Motors and Honda have standard signages for their dealers. In fact, these companies are very touchy about their signages. They even authorize limited number of contractors to build these signages in order to control the consistency in design as per their CIP/DIP.

A word of caution. Sometimes some companies demand very strict adherence to their Corporate Identification Program and they do not allow any deviation even though required by the prevailing circumstances. I feel that there should be some flexibility allowed in implementing the Corporate Identification Program in exceptional circumstances when it is in the interest of the company to do so. Since at the time of preparing the Corporate Identification Program, all the various situations in which the Corporate Identification Program can be used cannot be anticipated, making provision for them in Corporate Identification Program becomes difficult. As such, circumstances do arise for which specifications are not available in the Corporate Identification Program. It is obvious that either exceptions should be made or proper specification for meeting the needs of the new circumstances should be developed and included in the Corporate Identification Program, as and when required.

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