Corporate Identity, applies to all business.
Your company does not have to be a huge conglomorate to benefit from a Corporate Identity. It's now practically essential for all business to have some kind of business style, the aesthetics and look of your stationery and logo are part of this.
A business identity goes far beyond the logo.
It's true for most companies even sole traders a logo is essential but the identity only begins there. Once should factor in other visual elements such as the type-face used in documents, not just the colour of a logo but also if your company uses carrs and vans, what colour are they? A corporate ID can go to such depth.
Branding is not nessesarily part of corporate ID although sometimes these are one in the same. Product brands can vary within one company. A great example is Wrigley's Gum, many products and each with an individual brand yet Wrigley's itself maintains it's ID thoughout all.
The classic brand ID is Coca-Cola, the bottle shape alone plays a critical part in the style. A can of 'Coke' carries it's own branding, same product different packaging. So it's clear that the corporate ID and branding of products can be an essential part of business development. (Coke, Coca-Cola and Wrigley are registered trademarks)
For smaller business branding can be just as important for different reasons. If your business has established itself one can find the brand itself is worth more than the actual ledger, there might more value in the brand to a competitor than to your client or customer base. So always be prepared to develop and protect your brand.
- Have a logo designed, with specific variations for other media (Mono or Black and White as well as colour)
- Never allow your logo to be reproduced in colours other than those you've specified
- Never allow your logo to be re-drawn without your express permission
Just a few golden rules but enough to keep the look of your business true to your original Corporate Identity over time.