Corporate identity is a homogenous group of graphic elements that make up the company's image transmitting a same and only message as a whole and each element separately. The designs that make up this group are the Corporate Logo, the website, the brochure, the business cards, the catalogues and some other elements. These designs have a hierarchy within the group, being the most important one the Logo, since it is fundamental and foundational. The fundamental aspects lies in the fact that a company cannot launch its products to the market if it does not have a Logo that represents it and guarantees that its products are backed up by someone. The foundational aspect lies in the fact that this element, due to the fact that it is the first one, establishes the parameters that the other designs will adjust to. The website is the second most important element. A few years ago, the importance of an Internet page was not that big, but as years went by and the fact that this media became one of the most used ones as regards business issues, it has become an essential part of the company. The rest of the elements share the same grade of importance —they are a complement of the Logo and the website. However, the fact that these elements are complementary does not mean they are unimportant —to make a business presentation and to make up a solid corporate identity, you need them. Can you imagine an important company manager without a business card?
The key point of a proper corporate identity's development is homogeneity, respecting the foundational criteria, the creation within the established parameters. This group has a power that lies in the fact that all its elements transmit the same and only business message. That is to say, in any public presentation of the company —advertising, product's label, public events, etc. — some or several of these elements will be used to reaffirm the company's message. If any of these elements is missing, the result can be disastrous. Let's see an example.
Let's suppose there is a company that wants to transmit a message of professionalism and seriousness. In order to do that, it creates a proper corporate Logo. Then, the first element of the corporate identity's group is designed. Next, the ones in charge of the company decide to do business cards and informative three-fold leaflets of the offered products. When doing so, they ask the designer to be based on the company's Logo and that when he designs the business cards and the three-fold leaflets, he achieves the same message of the Logo. To do it, the designer will use colors, shapes, textures, typographies and similar dimensions to that of the Logo. Of course, each design has its own features and the designer will be skilful enough to exploit these features without leaving aside the foundational criterion of the Logo. Thus, the company has a Logo, business cards and three-fold leaflets that transmit the same message. Then, the company decides to create a Web page. In order to do so, it hires a Web designer. This designer, out of negligence, inexperience or whatever, does not follow the established parameters of the other designs. Therefore, the Web design ends up transmitting a different message.
What happens then? The first possibility is that consumers identify this difference as a mistake and decide to expel the Web design from their knowledge of the company. When realizing it is a mistake, people do not pay attention to what the design transmits. This is a problem since the company is left without a Web page, with all the disadvantages this implies. However, the problem does not go beyond that, since you can redesign an element.
The second possibility is more complicated. Consumers, when seeing the new Web page's design, can notice the difference in design but they do not take it as a mistake. This is not weird since everybody knows the importance of a Web page and they will not think the company would disregard an element that is so important. As a consequence to that thought, consumers will think that the page is fine and that the interpretation they have made of the other designs is wrong. Thus, all the elements that are not the website will have a different meaning according to this wrong element.