Corporations that develop clear messages and clearly communicate their stories to both the internal organizations and the external forces are the real players. The rest are either still discovering who they are, just making stories as they go along or periodically falling flat on their faces.
Who are the real winners and losers of the corporate image in 2005? Which corporation had the best identity? Which was most famous, hated or most profitable? All these responses depend on where you stand — whether as a loyal customer, the general public, employee or competitor. In a study conducted by ABC Namebank International, 5,000 major corporations around the world were surveyed and results compiled to measure the impact of their image on customers, profitability and overall market positioning. There was also a strong emphasis on their cyber-branding platforms and e-commerce presence. Most corporations passed the acid test — 54 per cent in all — with a B+ ranking. But the really big winners were very few — 3.9 per cent — and the losers stood at 42.1 per cent. The big winners had the right story with the right image; the others had the right story but a very poor image and struggled to make it work. The losers were almost without a story, with a bunch of ideas thrown together and some randomly picked-up image. They were spinning, but going nowhere.
Corporate image demands a very clear strategy, a mission, a game plan and a story. All that needs to be enunciated in a few simple sentences or a paragraph or two. What is the corporation all about, what does it do, and where it is going and why? It is true that most corporations are usually wrapped up in some big generic business concepts. It is also a very common problem these days that most find themselves in the middle of quicksands, while the markets are moving too fast in too many directions. Still, the issue of clarity and directions must be fixed. The correct messages must be built and the real stories need to be told.
There is a lot to be said for the right image to fit the right story. The most common problem is that the image has no relationship whatsoever with the corporate objectives. Still, senior teams regularly send out very confusing messages to internal layers of staff and ask them to band around the existing image and sing along without having any solid base or substance. The issues about image-building also require a deeper understanding and professional guidance. The right image to fit the right story is critical.
No matter what the corporation does, it must project a sharp personality, and that is something that requires professional and objective assessments — not just randomly picked, trendy ideas. When it comes to corporate image, corporations must also try to have images that project honesty and respectability. Therefore, they should avoid false claims or overly silly, wildly humorous image campaigns. Money and business both are serious issues. Customers and shareholders alike want to do business with the sober teams, and not the beer-commercial-happy bunch. Lastly, whatever the corporate image and brand name identity the corporation adopts, it must be secured under proper trademarking so that it can be built as something unique and not shared by thousands of others. Cyber-branding is now the backbone of any business. Only good name identities will survive on the search engines.
It’s very easy to figure all this out. A quick review of all your corporate communications material will clearly tell you what the stories being projected by your corporation are today. A quick search of your own corporate name identity in Google will tell you in seconds where your corporate brand stands in terms of its visibility.
Once you have all the data, it is also very easy to have a conference call with your senior management on this issue. You will quickly come up with a game plan to fix the problems you have. After all, it is very easy to do.
Remember… the customers are waiting.
Naseem Javed, author of Naming for Power, is a specialist in global name identities, image, cyber-branding and domain issues. Founder of ABC Namebank www.abcnamebank.com, a consultancy established in New York and Toronto, Naseem also conducts executive workshops and conferences on global image and name identities issues www.azna.com/ceo.htm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.