Corporate Identity: the Concept, Its Measurement and Management

“Corporate identity: the concept, its measurement and management” by van Riel, Cees B. M. and John M. T. Balmer (1997) tries to clarify the complex concept of corporate identity. The authors review three main developments in the topic that are graphic design paradigm, integrated communication paradigm and interdisciplinary paradigm.

The article also describes corporate identity management and various methods that can be used to reveal the actual corporate identity such as laddering technique and the Rotterdam Organizational Identification Test. However, according to the authors, the problem in establishing the desired corporate identity is that available methods were developed for the positioning of product brands rather than the corporate brand.

The authors conclude that a favorable corporate identity is one of an organization’s most important assets and for that reason is worthy of constant management attention. I think a great example of how important the corporate identity is for the overall organizational success is the Muzak case in Argenti’s book Chapter 4. In 1997 the company was so insecure about its own identity that its business cards and trucks often looked more like the vendors’ identities than its own.

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Also the brand looked different in every region and even between franchisees and sales offices. The company was losing cash, had horrible corporate culture and negative growth. Developing a unifying symbol for the company (that went on everything from business cards to trade shows and sales materials) and bringing Muzak’s brand message to a new level, helped the company to restore its confidence, to change public perception, to grow financially and to attract both new clients and new talented employees.

I think that the case illustrates how an appropriate or outdated corporate identity can damage firm’s financial performance and company’s success. Thus, management should not overlook the importance of the corporate identity but rather learn how to shape and manage company’s identity and differentiate the company through it.

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