Some talent acquisition trends seem like fads rather than reliable long-term approaches.
But when developing your business’s talent acquisition strategy, you can’t afford to ignore something as timeless as your corporate identity.
In short, corporate identity is what your corporation represents. If you’re hoping to recruit Gen Z workers, a consistent corporate identity calling attention to your company’s diversity, flexibility, and sense of social responsibility helps you stand out from your competitors.
But if you don’t follow through on what you claim to stand for, your confused and inconsistent corporate identity might lead to dissatisfied clients and even damage to your reputation.
Worse still, your company could get lost in the crowd altogether.
You need to leverage that corporate identity to build a forward-thinking, skills-first audience that you can transform into talent.
In this guide, we explore the benefits of a clear corporate identity. We also provide actionable advice on using skills-based hiring methods to make your corporate identity work.
Corporate identity is the image a company presents to the public. It’s a way for businesses to distinguish themselves from their competitors and earn recognition in the marketplace.
The three main elements of corporate identity are:
Corporate Communication: how the company transmits information to audiences both inside and outside itself, such as its tagline or mission statement
Corporate Design: the visual identity of the company, including its logo design, fonts, brand guidelines, color palette, typography, website, and even business cards
Without drawing on all three elements, it’s harder for businesses to build a convincing or coherent corporate identity.
Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, corporate identity isn’t the same thing as brand identity. Here are the key differences:
A company only has one corporate identity
A company could have many brand identities under the company’s umbrella identity, each with its own separate brand strategy
Creates a public corporate image for the company as a whole
Creates a public brand image for a specific product or line of products
Targets both internal and external stakeholders
Primarily targets external stakeholders, especially customers
For example, Johnson & Johnson is a company that owns a wide portfolio of brands. It has its own corporate identity, but its brands – including Listerine, Tylenol, and Neutrogena – all have their own strong brand identities, too.
Corporate identity is also different from employer branding because that targets potential applicants for jobs at your company. However, there is some overlap: Corporate identity plays a significant role in employer branding and ultimately attracting desirable candidates.
Corporate identity is the exercise of marketing your company to the world.
A strong and distinctive corporate identity helps you stand out from your competition, bolster your reputation, and attract candidates to your company culture.
The visual and communicative elements of your corporate identity, like a distinctive color scheme or a conversational tone to your verbal messaging, are vital ways to separate your company from its competitors.
But in the modern age, the same principle applies to your corporate behavior, too.
A commitment to corporate social justice is growing more important in customers’ eyes. Research shows that companies with effective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are more profitable than their competitors.
This element of corporate behavior indicates to stakeholders what your business stands for, creating popular awareness and bolstering your company’s profile.
A clear corporate identity also builds your corporate reputation – the way your customers feel about your company. In business, reputation matters: A quarter of your business’s market value can be tied directly to its reputation.
Reputation drives profit and encourages long-term customer loyalty. But it’s also a crucial recruitment tool for skilled, in-demand job candidates who can afford to be choosy about their employers.
Candidates want to work for employers with strong values and good company culture. If your company’s identity broadcasts that information, those candidates can make informed decisions about whether your company is right for them.
It’s also great for employers to reach the kind of candidate who will contribute positively to their corporate culture.
By committing to a strong, consistent corporate identity design, businesses unlock real, tangible benefits. From profits to public profile, an effective corporate identity makes a difference to your company’s long-term success.
Let’s look closer at the benefits of having a sound strategy for your corporate identity.
How do businesses differentiate themselves from their competition, even when they’re offering the same services?
Corporate identity is the key to standing out. Presented with three different companies offering the same thing at the same price, 64% of customers form loyalty to one business based on shared values.
By contrast, businesses without a convincing corporate identity are unmemorable. They risk losing out on market share as a result of lacking that vital differentiation.
When surveyed, 78% of customers said they are more inclined to be loyal to brands that understand them – and 51% said they are likely to stay loyal to their chosen brands for life.
A company with a corporate identity that targets a specific audience, aiming to understand and acknowledge their needs, is more likely to foster loyalty among that audience.
A customer with corporate loyalty has brand loyalty to all of its brands.
Consider your corporate identity carefully to keep your customers on your side for life.
Corporate identity isn’t just about marketing. It influences the internal culture of your company, from company communications to visual elements in the office.
That culture matters to your current employees and potential new hires. Employees are leaving jobs in unprecedented numbers because of toxic company cultures, looking for a better employee experience.
An effective corporate identity feeds into a positive, welcoming company culture. For example, imagine a business with core values based on transparency, social responsibility, and fairness.
Those values are likely to shape the business’s internal culture, too, creating a more positive experience – and a more appealing work environment – for employees.
Your corporate identity is the first thing a prospective employee learns about your company. Think of it as a first impression – you want to make it a good one.
If you do that, you gain access to a wider pool of top talent that’s enthusiastic about the idea of working for your business.
Follow these top tips to ensure that your corporate identity is supporting your recruitment strategy.
How it helps
Keep your corporate identity consistent and authentic
Prevents the dilution of your corporate identity and limits confusion when recruiting
Align your corporate identity with your audience
Informs cohesiveness in your business’s corporate identity and encourages audience engagement
Develop an employee-centric corporate identity
Shows prospective applicants that your company is willing to support and celebrate its staff
Keep your corporate identity remote-friendly
Improves access to a worldwide pool of talent
Speak up about your company’s culture
Ensures candidates understand what your business stands for and encourages candidates who will add to your culture to apply
Communicate clearly with candidates when recruiting
Draws on your consistent, distinctive approach to communications, keeping candidates engaged during recruitment
Use skills tests to build a coherent corporate identity
Brings all elements of your corporate identity into alignment by training current employees and hiring new ones
A convincing corporate identity should be consistent across every aspect of your organization. Otherwise, it may be diluted, and its impact on customers and potential new hires may be diminished.
Your corporate identity should also be authentic to your company’s actual behavior and values. An inauthentic corporate brand personality risks ringing false and alienating the audiences you want to attract.
That applies to potential new hires as much as it applies to prospective customers. If your company doesn’t live out the values it considers to be its identity, talented candidates won’t take it seriously enough to apply.
For example, you might consider your business to have an identity that’s modern, forward-looking, and focused on people. But if your public relations can’t demonstrate your company acts in ways informed by those beliefs, you’ll seem disingenuous.
In this example, implementing strategies like skills-based hiring shows a real commitment to the values your company promotes. It proves to candidates that your company follows through on its modern, pro-people beliefs.
Above all else, your corporate identity is a way to position your business within its field. It helps businesses target their audiences – whether they be customers or prospective new hires.
For this approach to work, you need to make sure your corporate identity is aligned with your audience and its values. That means bringing every aspect of your business’s operations into alignment, from its customer service to its approach to hiring.
Your business could target untapped pools of talent by embracing skills-based hiring methods. Our State of Skills-Based Hiring report found that 91.1% of businesses that implemented skills-based hiring saw an increase in workplace diversity as a result.
Diversity makes companies more appealing to employees from marginalized groups, who want to feel welcomed and supported at work. It’s also an asset when trying to recruit Gen Z workers, who value diversity highly.
By showing your commitment to living out that value in practice, you stand a better chance of attracting the candidates you want – the ones who will further reinforce your corporate identity.
When it comes to attracting top talent, there’s no safer bet than showing you put your people first. Companies that treat their people well receive more applications for open roles, enabling them to choose from the very best.
A corporate identity built on centering and celebrating employees is also a brand asset that plays a role in your overall marketing strategy. Customers want to feel as though they are supporting a business that treats people fairly.
So, how can you build an employee-centric company culture? Start by thinking about all of the things you could offer your staff to show you prioritize them highly:
Employee learning and development opportunities
Employee wellness and health programs
Other non-traditional benefits
And don’t forget to speak up about the ways you support your staff – more on that shortly.
This is one other way to make your corporate identity more employee-centric that deserves its own point: Offering support for remote work is a clear signal to candidates that you understand what they want.
Remote work has remained popular, with 98% of employees saying they’d like to work remotely, at least part of the time, for the rest of their careers.
It’s also beneficial for employers hoping to build more inclusive hiring strategies. Remote work unlocks access to a worldwide pool of talent that could help your business surpass its competitors.
To signal to candidates that you’re a remote-friendly employer, consider taking the following steps:
Build a remote-first company culture
Test job candidates on crucial remote work skills
Establish remote onboarding procedures for new staff
Create a sense of belonging by engaging remote employees
Adopt skills-based hiring practices that deprioritize educational requirements, giving international candidates a fairer shot
Even if your business does amazing work to build an appealing corporate identity and company culture, you could risk it all by not publicizing that work.
If you don’t speak up about your culture and identity as a business, people won’t know what you have to offer.
Promoting your positive, employee-centric corporate identity is a way to build your firm’s reputation. By showing off what you do to make your company a great place for everyone to work, you attract more diverse candidates to your business.
Those candidates bring a broader range of ideas, perspectives, and insights that make your business more successful.
So, if you want to recruit people who can add to your culture, you need to tell them why they should consider working for you. Broadcast your company culture on your website, your application pages, and even through wider advertising campaigns.
Be proud of the work you’ve done, and top candidates will take an interest.
Communication doesn’t end with telling the world about the identity-building work you do. You also need to stay in touch with candidates on a personal level during the recruitment process.
Good communication is a cornerstone of candidate relationship management. Job searching is stressful for candidates, and they appreciate it when a prospective employer goes the extra mile to let them know what to expect.
Doing so in your company’s corporate voice helps candidates get to know your business, forging stronger relationships with them in these crucial early stages. If you’ve already done the work of finding your business’s unique tone of voice, communication doesn’t have to be a challenge.
Here are some crucial moments when applicants may want to hear from your company in the voice you’ve developed as part of its corporate identity:
After you’ve received their application
When notifying them whether they’ve been selected to move forward in the process
After they’ve completed any skills tests or other pre-interview exercises
After their interview, where you tell them when they can expect to hear more
Skills-based hiring isn’t just a way to signal your corporate identity to prospective candidates.
It’s also a great strategy to ensure your corporate identity is consistent across every facet of your business.
Using TestGorilla’s skills assessments, it’s easy to recruit candidates with the skills you need to make your corporate identity coherent.
Skills tests also help companies to upskill their current workforce. Performing a skills gap analysis using talent assessments shows companies where they’re missing vital skills, empowering them to focus their employee training and development efforts.
From there, it’s easier to ensure that all elements of your corporate identity are working together, driven by employees who have the abilities they need to succeed.
To understand how to leverage corporate identity as a recruiting tool, you need to see what that looks like in practice.
There are plenty of major companies out there using their corporate identity to attract top talent.
Here are just a few examples of corporate identity success, along with our insights about what they’re doing well.
What they’re doing right
Positive company culture reinforced by fair compensation and opportunities for internal mobility
Unified corporate identity, focused on belonging, reflected in every aspect of company life
Clear and coherent identity encompassing and supporting a broad range of distinct and unique sub-brands
Strong sense of target audience combined with a bold, direct approach to marketing and promotion
People-first, inclusive company culture borne out through a commitment to corporate social responsibility
Grocery chain Trader Joe’s is well-known for selling quality food at affordable prices. But while other companies offer similar services, none of them boast the business’s helpful, upbeat employees.
Great customer service is a cornerstone of the firm’s corporate identity, founded on a positive company culture that shapes every aspect of the business.
Company employees are paid well above market rates for their work. Full-time employees earn an average salary of $40,150 in their first year, with opportunities for bonuses and retirement contributions. Managers are paid an average of $132,000.
The business promotes solely from within and evaluates employees’ performance every three months. It also gives workers plenty of autonomy, training them thoroughly and giving them opportunities to share ideas with management.
The company’s employees, benefiting from fair pay, free rein, and great opportunities for internal mobility, are happier and more fulfilled – and that happiness is reflected in the service they deliver and, in turn, the corporate identity that its audience sees.
The business goes above and beyond to set itself apart from competitor employees, putting itself in a great position to attract and nurture top talent.
Airbnb revolutionized the world of travel. But its initial corporate identity was put together hastily, and the company quickly outgrew it.
Its previous corporate identity centered on the literal service it provided: a place to stay. But the company realized that it offered a sense of belonging, encouraging new connections between diverse people.
The business’s visual identity reflects that brand promise of belonging, using warm, welcoming colors and drawing on the stories of hosts and travelers alike. Its slogan “Belong Anywhere” differentiated the firm from its competitors.
Crucially, though, the company’s identity isn’t just a marketing tool. It unifies every aspect of the company. Even its office design reflects its values of welcome and belonging.
That principle guides corporate decision-making, too. When announcing staff cuts during the Covid-19 pandemic, chief executive officer Brian Chesky offered all terminated employees access to career support services, 12 months of healthcare, and equity in the company.
This unified corporate identity positions the company as a place where employees belong – even in tough times, the business goes to great lengths to support them where possible.
That’s an inviting prospect for top talent and an attractive recruitment marketing strategy.
As we’ve explained, a company’s corporate identity often encompasses a wide range of brands. But an overcrowded field of brands can dilute the power of a business’s identity.
Fiber company Lenzing has led the way in fiber technology for 80 years. However, its fast growth left it with a cluttered portfolio of brands, none of which stood out.
This compromised the business’s corporate identity, threatening to reduce its market presence. In particular, an increase in competition from Asia had company leaders worried.
Upon surveying employers and consumers, the company learned that its brand signifies innovation, sustainability, and high quality. But those qualities weren’t reflected in its different brands.
It decided to unify its brand family’s visual assets. All of the business’s brands are now closely aligned with its corporate identity, with logos and names that mark them clearly as part of the same family.
The company’s brand Tencel has seen a 67% improvement in licensing applications. The firm’s global co-branding campaigns have also achieved:
More than 100 million total online impressions
More than 65 million social media impressions
More than 1 million direct engagements on social media
The core brand is now positioned as a leader and innovator in its field, and an appealing employer for workers looking to advance their careers.
During the pandemic, when businesses were struggling, oat milk company Oatly saw sales growth of 295%. What did the firm do differently?
Despite its recent rise to the top, the company began life in the 1990s with far less success. Under its original name, Mill Milk, it failed to break through.
It needed a new approach. Founder Rickard Öste noticed the rise of eco-conscious consumerism among millennial and Gen Z customers, and he decided to seize the opportunity.
The business is known today for its savvy, eco-friendly communications and visual identity, designed to appeal to younger consumers. But it also took a more direct approach to marketing: selling its product directly to artisanal coffee shops.
It offered a special “barista blend” to these cafes – whose primarily millennial customer base was more likely to choose a dairy-free milk alternative. This offered consumers a top-quality first experience with the product, encouraging them to seek it out on their own.
The firm’s strong identity and a clear sense of its audience enabled it to reach customers in innovative ways, making its mark in a crowded field of competitors. It’s also seen as a cool, socially-conscious brand among younger workers looking for their next role.
Software company Adobe is known as a great place to work. In 2021, it ranked 27th on Forbes’ list of America’s best employers. That’s a direct result of a corporate identity driven by an inclusive, people-first company culture.
The company celebrates its employees’ achievements through the annual Adobe Founders’ Award. This prize honors employees who live and breathe the company’s values, encouraging commitment to its corporate identity.
But it doesn’t just talk the talk. The firm is also a leader in progressive HR policies, such as:
Pay parity across gender and race
Fairness in promotions and horizontal job opportunities
Transparency in parity data across pay, internal movement, and other metrics
That commitment to fairness is borne out in projects like the Taking Action Initiative.
Founded in response to racial injustice in the US, the initiative draws on the expertise of Black employees to promote respect and fair treatment within the company.
The firm’s wide-ranging approach to corporate social responsibility bears out its company culture in practice. It ensures that its corporate identity is truly its identity instead of an empty gesture.
It also fosters a robust talent pipeline, regardless of candidate background or demographic.
Your company’s corporate identity is a valuable way to stake a claim to a particular niche. By defining your target audience, voice, visual design, ideals, and behaviors, you establish your business as a distinct organization with a clear identity.
This makes it easier to improve your market presence and enjoy greater success. But a strong corporate identity should be an important part of your talent acquisition strategy, too.
If you use your corporate identity when engaging with candidates and applicants, you stand a better chance of making a great impression and encouraging them to pursue a career with your business.
Ready to take your corporate identity directly to potential candidates? Check out our guides to campus recruitment and virtual job fairs.
And make sure you hire candidates who can act as ambassadors for your corporate identity by using our Communication test.
Byus, Kent; Deis, Donald R.; Bo, Ouyang. (January 2010). “Doing well by doing good: Corporate social responsibility and profitability”. SAM Advanced Management Journal. Retrieved July 24, 2023. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/292473578_Doing_well_by_doing_good_Corporate_social_responsibility_and_profitability
“Global Survey on Reputation Risk”. Deloitte. Retrieved July 24, 2023. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/za/Documents/risk/NEWReputationRiskSurveyReport_25FEB.pdf
Freeman, Karen; Spenner, Patrick; Bird, Anna. (May 23, 2012). “Three Myths about What Customers Want”. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved July 24, 2023. https://hbr.org/2012/05/three-myths-about-customer-eng
“State of Remote Work 2023”. Buffer. Retrieved July 24, 2023. https://buffer.com/state-of-remote-work/2023
“Listening, Learning, and Taking Action”. (October 6, 2020). Adobe. Retrieved July 24, 2023. https://blog.adobe.com/en/publish/2020/06/10/listening-learning-and-taking-action
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