corporate identity and corporate design: meaning, differences, functions

what do you need for successful brand development?


in the world of business, creating a cohesive and memorable image for your company is of utmost importance. two terms that often come up in discussions about establishing the visual and physical presence of a brand are corporate identity (ci) and corporate design (cd). although they sound similar, they have different meanings and thus roles and functions in shaping a brand.

corporate identity (ci):


corporate identity, often abbreviated as ci, represents the fundamental essence and values of a company. it encompasses intangible aspects such as the company’s mission, vision, values, and culture. these form the foundation upon which all other brand elements are built.


key components of corporate identity:


  • corporate philosophy: ci begins with defining the mission and values that drive the company’s actions and decisions. it answers the “why” behind the company’s existence.


  • corporate culture and behavior: the internal culture of a company plays a crucial role in shaping its identity. ci aligns employees’ beliefs and behaviors with the company’s values.


  • brand voice and tone: ci establishes guidelines for how the company communicates with its audience. this includes the language, style, and emotions conveyed in communication.


  • brand personality: ci defines the brand’s personality traits, such as friendliness, professionalism, innovativeness, and more.

corporate design (cd):


corporate design, abbreviated as cd, is the tangible and visual representation of a company’s identity. it focuses on the design aspects that make a brand recognizable and distinctive. cd encompasses products or services, as well as the logo, color palette, typography, and other visual elements consistently used across all branding materials.


key components of corporate design:


  • logo: the logo is the centerpiece of cd. it should be unique, memorable, and representative of the company’s values and personality.


  • color palette: cd defines a set of colors that are reflected in all brand elements, such as business supplies, presentations, architecture, products, etc.


  • typography: the choice of fonts and typography styles ensures that written content matches the brand’s personality.


  • key visuals: beyond the logo, cd can include visual elements like patterns, symbols, graphics, and design grids that enhance recognizability and promote a cohesive brand image across all media.


  • office supplies and marketing materials: cd extends to business cards, letterheads, brochures, websites, and other marketing materials, ensuring a consistent appearance.


  • products and services: cd should also include the design of offered products and services. by establishing and consistently implementing a unique product design dna, development and inventory costs can be saved in the long run, while significantly enhancing the recognizability of the products and their brand.


  • cd manual: the manual is the documentation of all guidelines. it must provide clear and unambiguously interpretable instructions while being concise. this way, it offers helpful support in daily use without being perceived as a necessary burden.

in summary, corporate identity serves as the soul of a company, encompassing its values, mission, and culture. it provides the guiding principles for how a company operates and communicates. corporate design, on the other hand, is the visual manifestation of ci, making the brand immediately recognizable.


both ci and cd are crucial for building a strong and consistent brand that resonates with customers and leaves a lasting impression in the competitive business world. together, they form the cornerstones of a successful brand strategy.

at f/p design, we help you find answers to the most common questions about corporate identity (ci) and corporate design (cd):


  • what sets us apart from competitors?


  • how do we want to be perceived by customers and the public?


  • how do we ensure our employees adopt and reflect our ci?


  • what values and ethics guide our decision-making?


  • how do we create a visual identity that is unforgettable and recognizable?


  • how do we ensure consistency across various branding materials?


  • what guidelines should be established for the use of brand resources?


  • how do we evolve our cd over time without losing brand recognition?

schedule a free consultation now to discuss your individual brand development needs.