ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

This article introduces a new approach to corporate identity scholarship and practice entitled "The ACID Test of Corporate Identity Management."™ The researchers undertook empirical research within a major corporate identity consultancy with the objective of evaluating and contrasting the techniques used by the consultancy with the latest developments in corporate identity scholarship. An analysis of the documentary material produced by the UK's top 20 corporate identity consultancies and of the conceptual models of corporate image/corporate identity produced by academics was undertaken. A qualitative research design was adopted, based on in-depth interviews, desk research and content analysis. The research revealed that most corporate identity projects adopted a "vision driven approach." In other words corporate identity strategies were being built around the corporate vision as articulated by an organisation's chief executive and/or board of management. Furthermore, visual identification was used as the...
This article was downloaded by: [EMLYON Business School]
On: 28 July 2015, At: 02:47
Publisher: Routledge
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered
office: 5 Howick Place, London, SW1P 1WG
Journal of Marketing Management
Publication details, including instructions for authors and
subscription information:
http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rjmm20
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity
Management™
John M. T. Balmer & Guillaume B. Soenen
Published online: 01 Feb 2010.
To cite this article: John M. T. Balmer & Guillaume B. Soenen (1999) The Acid Test of
Corporate Identity Management™, Journal of Marketing Management, 15:1-3, 69-92, DOI:
10.1362/026725799784870441
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1362/026725799784870441
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE
Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the
“Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,
our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to
the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions
and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,
and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content
should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources
of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,
proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever
or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or
arising out of the use of the Content.
This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any
substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,
systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms
& Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/
terms-and-conditions
Journal of Marketing Management 1999,15,69-92
John M.T.
Balmer
1
and
Guillaume B.
Soenen
2
International
Centre for
Corporate Identity
Studies, University
of Strathclyde
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity
Management™3
This article introduces a new approach to corporate
identity scholarship and practice entitled "The ACID Test of
Corporate Identity Management"7JI1 The researchers
undertook empirical research within a major corporate
identity consultancy witll the objective of evaluating and
contrasting the techniques used by the consultancy with
tlle latest developments in corporate identity scholarship.
An analysis of the documentary material produced by the
UK's top 20 corporate identity consultancies and of the
conceptual models of corporate image/corporate identity
produced
by
academics was undertaken. A qualitative
research design was adopted, based on in-depth interviews,
desk research and content analysis. The research revealed
that most corporate identity projects adopted a "vision
driven approach". In otller words corporate identity
strategies were being built around the corporate vision as
articulated by an organisation's chief executive and/or
board of management Furthennore, visual identification
was used as the primary vehicle to effect a change in the
organisation's identity. The analysis of the documentary
material of twenty corporate identity consultancies revealed
tllat tllis vision driven approach was common across the
industry. This finding is at variance with the latest
developments in corporate identity research and
scholarship which acknowledges tllat a variety of identity
strategies are required in order to meet the various identity
problems faced by organisations. It became clear that there
was scope for a method which could help to (a) identify
weaknesses with an organisation's identity strategy and
management and (b) prioritise the type of identity change
required in light of tile current identity. The researchers
found tllat the corporate identity interface concept
introduced by Abratt
(1989)
and, which has been further
1
Director, International Centre for Corporate Identity Studies, Department of Marketing,
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
2
Research Fellow, International Centre for Corporate Identity Studies, Department of
Marketing University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
3 TM
Pending, The Acid test of Corporate Identity Management,]. M.T. Balmer 1998
ISSN0267-257X/99/010069+23$12.00/0 ©Westbum PublishersLtd.
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
70
Contid ...
John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
developed by Stuart (1994) and Balmer (1998) could be
used as the basis for a new approach to corporate identity
consultancy, management and scholarship and this
resulted in the creation of "The Acid Test of Corporate
Identity Management". This new model affords one means
by which senior managers, consultants and scholars might
avoid some of the pitfalls which they can face when
designing corporate identity change strategies. The article
ends by discussing the implications of the ACID Test for
corporate identity research, management and consultancy.
Current Approaches to Corporate Identity Management
Objectives and Structure of the Research
The objective of this study was to evaluate current models and methods used
to audit an organisation's corporate identity, and to devise a new approach to
corporate identity change programmes. The study had three parts. Part one
consisted of an in depth analysis of the corporate identity audit techniques used
by a major international corporate identity consultancl (consultancy X). Part
two consisted of a review of the literature including an analysis of existing audit
techniques and of the emerging theory relating to corporate identity interfaces.
Part three was a comparison of the findings of Part one and Part two of the
project which led to the designing of a new approach to corporate identity
change programmes entitled, 'The ACID Test of corporate identity
management'. Exhibit 1 shows the structure of the research in diagrammatic
foml:
Part 1. Primary Research
Within Consultancy X
- In-depth interviews
- Desk-researcJl
- Content-anay/sis
+
Brochures of the
UK's top 20 CI
consu/tancies
Part 2. Literature Review
- Analysis of models and
techniques of copomte
identity audit and,
- Analysis of emerging theo!}'
of coporate identity inteiface
L _
Exhibit 1: Structure of the Research
Part 3.
Analysis and
Comparison
New Approach:
The ACID Test of
Corporate Identity
Management
4
This consultancy will be referred to as "Consultancy X" throughout this article.
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management 71
Part One of the Research: Primal)' Research Within Consultancy X
Part one of the research took place in the London office of a major
international identity consultancy (consultancy X) over a two week period. The
objective of stage one of the project was as follows:
"to understand, record,
explain
and
evaluate
the main
methodologies used
within
consultancy
X
for
conducting
a
corporate identity audit".
What was
done
During the first week of the project documentary material produced by
Consultancy X was analysed. This encompassed the examination of 37 case
histories relating to various identity projects, twenty five internal documents and
a review of commercial reports. In addition, the brochures of the UK's top 20
corporate identity consultancies were examined in order to ascertain whether
individual consultancies offered a distinct approach.
The desk research was followed by seventeen, in-depth, interviews which took
place during the second week of the project. The interviewees were selected on
the basis that
1. They
reflected
the
range of staff
who
are involved
in
corporate identity
change
projects (strategic-planners, marketers, graphic designers)
2. They
reflected
the
various job
junctions within the
organisation (founder
and chainnan,
chief executive, directors, senior
consultants,
consultants
and
support personnel)
3. They
involved
a
cross-section of personnel
who had
worked
in other
corporate identity consultancies and
thus had
exposure
to
different type
of approaches
as
used
by
other identity consultants.
How
it
was
Done
Each interview lasted approximately for one hour and took place in the
presence of both researchers. For the main, the lead researcher conducted the
interview whilst his research assistant took notes. Each interview was recorded
so that the interview notes could be cross checked. Interviews were based on
open questions and respondents were encouraged to discuss issues that had not
been previously identified by the researchers. The topic guide used as a basis for
the interviews focused on issues such as:
"How
do
you reveal
an
organisation's identity?",
"What
do
you look at?",
'What methods
of data collection
do
you use?",
"Have you ever used
a
different
approach?
If
so
When? Howl and "\Illy?",
"Doyou know of
other
consultancies
who
use
a
different approach?"
The researchers adopted a qualitative research design, which is appropriate when
seeking "to describe, decode, translate and otherwise come to tenns with the
meaning, not the frequency, of certain more or less naturally occurring
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
72
John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
phenomena in the social world" (Van Maanen, 1983: 9). The interviews and
documentary evidences were analysed using content analysis, which can be
explained as "the process of identifying, coding and categorising the primary
patterns of data." (Patton, 1990: 381). The investigation focused on the processes
of corporate identity audit used within the consultancy. The researchers started
the coding process using cross-interview analysis; that is for each research
question answers from different people were grouped. However, as the analysis
progressed, it became apparent that individuals within the consultancy were
using different processes. Therefore, it became necessary to use case-analysis;
that is a separate report was written for each individual and fonned the unit of
analysis. Diagrams were used to map the approaches used by each individual.
These diagrams were then cross-analysed to derive a taxonomy of corporate
identity change programs. Sensitising concepts were used (i.e. labels brought by
the researchers to the data), but whenever possible, indigenolls concepts were
preferred (i.e.labels or tenns used by the respondents themselves).
Findings
of Part
1
of
the
Research
The above procedures resulted in seven methodological approaches used
within consultancy X being identified. The seven methodologies are summarised
in exhibit 2.
Exhibit 2: The 7 Methodological Approach to CI Audit Used Within
Consultancy X
1. The 'Official Methodology': Consultancy
X
espoused theoretical framework,
used during presentations
to
clients.
2. Visual Identity Programme:
the
process adopted for
most
programmes
which focused systematically
on the
delivery of
a
new visual
identity.
3. Strategic Visual Identity Programme:
a
relatively new approach drawing
on
strategic planning adopted
by
consultancy
X's most senior
executives, which
encompasses
the
wider organisational implications of corporate
identity.
4. 'The
Positioning
Pack':
a
recently developed tlleoretical framework, highly
structured, which fuses strategic planning
with
corporate
identity
management
The
focus
is on
brand positioning.
5. 'Framework for Imagination':
an
isolated case where approach
4
described
above was put into practice.
This
approach distinguishes itself
by a
greater
flexibility
in the
visual identity management system put
in
place
as a
result
of
the
programme, i.e.
the
main thrust of
the
programme was
the
"spirit" of
the new
identity
rather than
strict design implementation rules.
6. 'Consultancy
X
Experience': based
on a
long-tenn co-operation
with the
client, this
approach
is
essentially design focused. The design work goes
beyond tile
conventional
and includes
sounds
and
textures (i.e.
a
"full
sensory experience").
Cont/d ...
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management
Exhibit 2. Conti d ...
73
7. The
Designers' Perspective:
an ad-hoc
process used
by
some designers in
parallel
to Ule approach
followed
by
consultants,
which
took
into account
Ule
personality of
Ule
client,
its
history and environmental conditions
such
as the Ci'Jstomers
unanswered expectations.
(NB:the" denotes a label used by the respondents themselves)
The main finding from the analysis was that most approaches were "vision-
driven", and the analysis of the documents produced by other consultancies
confinned ':hat this vision-driven approach was broadly followed by other
consultancies. In other words, both in consultancy X and in other consultancies
corporate identity programmes were being built around the vision, or identity
"desired" by the chief executive and/or management board of the client
organisation. With this approach the main task of the consultant was to clarify
the vision of the chief executive, and then to translate it into a new visual
identity. An unexpected finding was that in parallel to the methodological
approach used to reveal a client's corporate identity, consultants carried out a
series of activities destined to manage the relationships with the clients. These
activities were not fonnalised into an overt process, rather, they were perfonned
on an add-hoc basis and rested on personal initiative.
Part Two
(If
the Research: Literature Review
The authors used the existing literature reviews undertaken by Kennedy
(1977), Abr,:itt(1989), van Riel (1995), van Riel and Balmer (1997) and Balmer
(1998). The review of the literature undertaken as part of stage two of the
research had the objective of:
i.
Identifying
the
various audit
techniques
used
to
reveal
an
organisation's
identity,
ii. Defining
the component
parts of
an
organisation's identity,
and
iii. Reviewing
the
emerging
theory with
regard
to
corporate identity
interfaces.
i.
Corporate Identity Audit Techniques
The authors identified thirteen models and techniques. An unexpected result
of the litera.ture review was the realisation that audit techniques and models had
four main purposes which are:
(;) to
reveal
an
organisation's identity
(what the
organisation is)
(ij)
to
reveal
Ule
process of corporate identity and corporate image
fonnation
(iii)
to
reveal
the
tasks involved in corporate identity management
(iv)
to
reveal weaknesses in
the
management of
an
organisation's identity.
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
74 John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
ii. The Corporate Identity Mix and Corporate Identity Management Mix
An analysis of the models revealed that whilst there was a lack of consensus
as to the elements constituting a corporate identity, the two elements commonly
referred to were (a) management vision and (b) the organisation's core values. It
was also found that whereas academics increasingly focused on the intangible
and difficult aspects of corporate identity, such as Questions of culture,
practitioners focused on the more easily grasped elements. It was also found that
the available models did not take into account a number of elements which a
number of writers concluded were integral to an organisation identity, namely (a)
industry's identity, (b) the perfonnance of products and services, (c) the
leadership style and nature of the corporate ownership, and (d) corporate
behaviouns).
Objective (ij) also led to a distinction being made between the component
parts of the elements fonning a corporate identity and the components parts
required in the management of an organisation's identity. As such, two distinct
mixes were felt to be efficacious. The two corporate identity mixes are shown
below, in exhibits 3 and 4.
Exhibit 3: The Corporate Identity Mix
Voice
Controlled
communication
Non-controlled
communication
Symbolism
Personnel
&
corporate
behaviour
Indirectcommunication
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management
Exhibit4: The Corporate IdentityManagement Mix
75
iii.
The Interface Concept
Objective (iii) resulted in a review of the corporate identity interface concept
Three writers have accorded the interface concept attention over the last decade,
namely Abratt (1989), Stuart (1995) and Balmer (1998). Exhibit 5 below
reproduces the writers' interpretation of the changing nature of the corporate
identity interfaces. The authors conclude that the writings of Abratt (1989) and
Stuart (1995) give undue attention to the identity /image interface to the
detriment of other interfaces. Whilst Balmer's approach is comprehensive, (in
that fifteen interfaces were identified), it was found to be difficult to
operationalise.
Exhibit 5: The Nature of the Corporate Identity / Corporate Image
Interface.
Author
Abratt(1989)
Stuart
(1995)
Balmer
(1998)
Nature of the interface
identity-Image interface consisting of fonnal communication
identity-Image interface consisting of marketing
communication
&
personnel communication
Fifteen interfaces providing a comprehensive check list
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
76
John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
Part Three of
the
Research: Analysis and Comparison
At this point the researchers made a comparison between the findings of the
primary and secondary data. It was concluded that three broad areas needed to
be addressed namely:
1.
To wl1atextent do models/metl1ods of corporate identity audit emphasise
the vision-driven approacl1?
2. To wl1at extent do recent developments in the literature support sucl1 an
approacl1?
3. How does consultancy
X's
corporate identity mix compare with the
corporate identity mixes devised
by
Birkigt and Stadler
(1986)
and
Balmer and Soenen (1997)?
The above questions are addressed in detail in the following paragraphs.
1.
To wl1atextent do models/metl1ods of corporate identity audit empl1asise the
vision-driven approacl1?
The literature revealed that most models of corporate identity, corporate image,
and reputation were "vision driven." This can notably be seen in the models of
Abratt (1989), Balmer (1995), Dowling (1986, 1993), Gray and Smeltzer (1985),
Van Riel (1995) and Van Riel and Balmer (1997). For the main, these models are
based on the rationale that corporate identity management consists in
communicating the vision of an organisation's founder, chief executive, or
management board. The vision driven adopted by most writers on the area tends
to follow a similar pattern which is replicated below in exhibit 6.
Exhibit 6: A Schematic Representation of the "Vision-Driven"Approach to
Corporate Identity Management
Basis of Corporate
Identity Change
Translates into
Objectives
..............................
/.
....................,..~ \ Positive Corporate
Images, and over
time, Positive
Corporate
Reputations
Behavioural
Manifestations
Visual Manifestations
/ .....>.:::.:::1
.).::./:.:: .....•.....•....
v
....•...
-=. . ......
...............:::::~.,.------------.1
1;· .
or ••••••••• ~
>"1'\
Verbal Manifestations
r=:/'v
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management
77
2. To what extent do recent developments in the literature support such an
approach?
The analysis of the literature revealed a discrepancy between the above models
and the thrust of some of the recent theoretical developments. For example, a
number of authors (Albert and Whetten, 1986; Hatch and Schultz, 1997; Balmer
and Wilson, 1998) have implicitly emphasised the importance of revealing the
actual identity. This is in sharp contrast with the narrowly defined purpose of
corporate identity change programme as revealed in a good deal of the literature.
Hatch and Schultz, for instance, give the following definition of organisational
identity: "organizational identity refers broadly to what members perceive, feel
and think about their organizations". The same authors reached conclusions
which are consistent with the findings of this study, and state that "corporate
identity is conceptualized as a function of leadership and
by
its focus on the
visual".
The vis:,on-driven approach is also inconsistent with the writings of authors
such as Hannebon and Bloker (in Van Riel 1995: 30), Marwick and Fill (1997),
Morison (1997) and Gray et al (1998) who have argued that corporate strategy
should be a key component of corporate identity change programmes. This link
with stratelW is encapsulated bythe following quote by Morison (1997: 157)
"...Much of the apparatus necessary for a fuller understanding of corporate
identity issues is already present in the strategic management and
organisational theory literature. Indeed, the conscious adoption of an identity
system may usefully be thought of as a specialist aspect of organisational
design, analogous to the more structural decision that companies take about
the creation of divisions or strategic business units, the delegation of
authoriJ'.y,the limits to span of control and so forth."
Other authors focus on the importance of perception and communication in
corporate identity change programmes. This can be seen in the importance
attached to image research by authors such as Worcester (1986, 1987) and the
importance given to corporate communication as espoused by Marguillies (in
Van Riel 1997: 30) in the following quote '~..identity means the sum of all the
ways a company chooses to identify itself to all its publics",
The literature review also revealed that there are different approaches to
corporate identity change programmes. This has been acknowledged
by
Balmer
(1995) who concluded in his review of the literature that writers attribute seven
purposes to corporate identity; namely that it reflects:
1. A change
in
corporate strategy
2. A new visual identity which reflects a change in corporate strategy
3. A change
in
organisational behaviour including culture
4. A new visual identity which reflects a change in organisational behaviour
including culture
5. A change
in
corporate communication
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
78
John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
6. A visual change reflecting
a
change in corporate communication
7. A new visual identity reflecting changing tastes in fashion.
He argued that the above seven approaches should not be seen as mutually
exclusive but reveals the scope of corporate identity change programmes.
Selecting the appropriate approach is dependant on where there is the greatest
weakness. What is clearly implied in Balmer's approach is that an inclusive,
integrative approach, which subsumes all seven schools does,
de facto,
constitute
an eighth school of thought
In conclusion, whilst there is a similarity of approach between (a) the vision
driven approach as revealed by the primary research conducted within
consultancy
X,
and (b) the conceptual models developed by academics and
practitioners, this approach does not reflect the more holistic view of corporate
identity as revealed in the recent literature.
3. How does consultancy
X's
corporate identity mix compare
with the
corporate
identity
mixes
devised
by
Birkigt and Stadler
(1986)
and Balmer and Soenen
(1997)
?
With regard to the elements which constituted consultancy Xs corporate identity
mix (that is the elements which are used during a project to reveal a client's
corporate identity) the researchers had to distinguish between core elements
and non-standard elements. Core elements were those which were covered in
most projects while non-standard elements were only found in specific projects.
Exhibit 7 illustrates consultancy Xs corporate identity mix.
A comparison was then made with two corporate identity mixes and the
interface concept the famous mix designed by Birkigt and Stadler
(1986)
(see
Exhibit 8) and the recently devised corporate identity and corporate identity
management mixes by Balmer and Soenen
(1997).
See Exhibits
9
and
10.
The
legend against each mix shows which elements of both mixes consultancy
X
focuses on. What became apparent is that consultancy
X
focuses on symbolism
and on controllable fom1s of communication. Additional content analysis of the
brochures produced by the UK top 20 corporate identity consultancies confinned
that the focus on visual identity was common across the industry. So in relation
to Birkigt and Stadler's corporate identity mix consultancy
X
focuses on
symbolism and to a lesser degree on communication, whereas in relation to
Balmer and Soenen's mix, consultancy focuses very much on the voice identity
(even though all the elements in that particular part of the mix are by no means
entirely addressed). A comparison was made with Balmer and Soenen's
second
mix: the corporate identity management mix. This is because the
aforementioned authors make a distinction between the components that
reveal
an organisation's corporate identity and the broader set of tasks which are
required to manage a corporate identity. Here it was found that whilst
consideration was given to an organisation's diverse stakeholders, comparatively
little importance was given to the question of reputation (of the company,
industry, country, etc.) and almost no attention was given to the environment
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management
Exhibit 7::Consultancy X's Corporate Identity Mix
79
Employees'
Identification
(sub
contmcted)
NON-STANDARD ELEMENTS
Corporate Culture
Visual Identity
Vision-Positioning
Espoused Values
Brand Architecture
Client's Environmental
Analysis
Customer experience
Perfonnance
Strategy
Distribution
System
Exhibit 8 : The Corporate Identity Mix (Birkigt and Stadler, 1987)
Tmage
Lege:ld: Elements of Consultancy X's mix
r4PITAL - MAIN FOr-US ON r-ONSln,TANc.YX·S AImIT
CAPITAL - AREAS NOT CONSIDERED IN DETAIL
Italics
=
Areas Overlooked
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
80
John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
Exhibit 9: The New Corporate Identity Mix(Balmer and Soenen, 1997)
Legend: Elements of consultancy's X
CAPITAL
=
MAIN FOCUS OF CONSUL TANCYS AUDIT
CAPITAL - AREAS NOT C NSIDERED IN DETAIL
Italics - Areas overlooked
Exhibit 10: The New Corporate Identity Management Mix (Balmer and
Soenen, 1997)
Legend: Elements of constancy X's mix
CAPITAL
=
MAIN FOCUS OF CONSULTANCY'S X AUDIT
CAPITAL AREAS NOT CONSIDERED IN DETAIL
Italics
=
Areas overlooked
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management
81
Overall,the research revealed a lack of sophistication on the part of Consultancy
X with re~~ardto the items required to manage a strategic change of an
organisation's identity. The researchers concluded that the dominant identity
change programme undertaken by Consultancy X (and which appears to be
replicated
:JY
other consultancies) is only
one
approach to corporate identity
change programmes. The efficacyof systematically adopting such an approach is,
the autho~, conclude, open to question,
It also became apparent that there was a need to devise a new model which
drew on the current literature and which enabled consultants, managers and
.scholars to identify which type of identity change is most efficacious. The
researche~, felt that an examination of the interface concept
cJ,
Abratt (1989),
Balmer (1998) and Stuart (1994) might provide one solution with regard to
devising a new approach capable of circumventing the problems faced by the
consultants in dealing with the multi-faceted concept of corporate identity.
A Way FOJ:ward:The ACID Test of Corporate Identity Management
This section presents a new approach to corporate identity consultancy and
management which is based on the findings of the primary research undertaken
within consultancy X and a reworking of Balmer's fifteen corporate identity
interfaces (Balmer, 1998). In designing the new approach to corporate identity
consultancy and management, the lead researcher established seven criteria:
I.
It should be innovative and rejIect cutting edge developments with regard
to corporate identity research and scholarship.
ii. It should
be
capable of being operationalised
by
consultants.
iii.
It
should be capable of improving current best practices in relation to
corporate identity consultancy and management
iv. It should bring objectivity
to
corporate identity consultancy and
management
v.
It should assist in
the
evaluation of corporate identity programmes and
management
vi. It should be memorable.
vii.It should be simple
The first section outlines the assumptions which underpin the ACID Test of
corporate identity management, and how it has been derived.
Foundati~:>nsof the ACID Test
A comparison between (a) the findings of the research undertaken within
consultancy X and of the review of the conceptual models of corporate image
I
corporate identity management, and (b) the latest developments in corporate
identity scholarship, showed there to be a dichotomy. On the one hand, recent
developments in the literature tend to focus on the question 'What is an
organisation's actual corporate identity?" whereas Consultancy X's approach and,
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
82
John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
it would appear that of other consultancies, together with that underlying most
conceptual models appear to be mainly concerned with addressing the question
"How do we communicate an organisation's desired corporate identity
?"
Thus,
after a good deal of reflection the researchers concluded that an entirely new
approach was required in order to reconcile these divergent approaches to
corporate identity consultancy and management
Such a new approach has the potential to shift corporate identity consultancy,
management and scholarship from being merely a reactive and tactical approach,
to a more proactive and strategically based management discipline. The fOffi1er
approach regards corporate identity as essentially a communication-led discipline
grounded in graphic design. The later is strategic in nature and is a
multidisciplinary approach. This reflects the approach advocated by Balmer
(1995)
and Gray et al
(1998).
This raises fundamental questions relating to the
nature of corporate identity. If corporate identity is defined within the confines of
the fOffi1erapproach, encapsulated as follows by Dowling
"the visual
identity mix
comprises
the company's name, its
logo
or
symbol,
the
colour
scheme and
type-
fount"
(1994),
then the ACID Test is too broad an approach. However, if
corporate identity is defined as encompassing the "Soul, "Mind"and 'Voice" of an
organisation (see Exhibit 3) and delineates "what an organisation is" (Balmer,
1995),
or "is a set of interdependent characteristics of the organisation which
gives it specificity, stability and coherence" (Lan;:on and Reitter,
1979)
then the
ACIDTest becomes a benchmark against which corporate identity management
practices can be checked.
With the ACID test approach it is recommended that consultants and
managers differentiate between four types of identity. These are:
The Actual
Identity:
what the
organisation is,
The Communicated
Identity:
how the
organisation
is
perceived by
its
publics
and how the
organisation
communicates,
The Ideal
Identity:
the optimum positioning
of
the
organisation
in its
market
or
markets taking
cognisance
of
its
strengths
and
abilities
in
addition to
environmental
considerations,
The Desired
identity:
the identity which the
chief executive
and
management
board
wish to
acquire.
The acme of corporate identity management is achieving a dynamic congmency
between the four types of identity. Where gaps occur then corrective action is
required. These gaps may be identified by consultants by using the ACIDTest In
this regard the ACIDTest would appear to make a significant advance in relation
to corporate identity interface theory. By using the ACIDTest the researchers are
of tJ:le view that senior managers and consultants are forced to confront
fundamental questions relating to:
(a)
the
focus of
the
organisation, i.e.
its
overall
direction and
raison d'etre,
(b)
the
appropriateness of
existing
corporate identity management policies,
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management
(c) the type
and
scope of corporate identity change required.
The next section provides a more detailed description of the ACIDTest
The ACID Test An explanation.
"Acid test -
a
rigorous
and
conclusive test
to
establish worth
and
value "
(Collins
Shorter Dictionary)
83
The lead researcher and author is of the view that the ACID Test of Corporate
Identity Management focuses senior management attention on the
appropriateness of the corporate mission and ethos as translated into the
corporate identity (the distinct attributes of the organisation). In addition, it
forces senior managers to consider many of the key elements which need to be
considered when reviewing their corporate identity taking into ccount that an
organisation's identity provides a font from which an organisation's long tenn
viabilityand survival is derived. It was found that the ACIDtest not only provided
a succinct explanation of the objectives of corporate identity management but
could also be used as an acronym for the four different types of identity which
need to be considered when assessing the type of identity change programme
required. The four types of identity are as follows:
Actual
Identity
This refers to the values held by the staff and management of the
organisation and how these values are concretely manifested. It also includes the
type and quality of the products and services offered by the organisation, the
perfonnance of the company, the behaviour of employees and corporate
behaviours. The Actual identity is, amongst other, shaped by the nature of the
corporate ownership, the leadership style of management, the stmcture of the
industry and by the fonnal organisational stmcture and management policies.
Communicated Identity
The Communicated Identity is a
dual
concept
First,
it refers to the corporate
reputations held by the organisation among its many stakeholder groups.
Second, it also includes total corporate communication, which refers to both
controllable communication, such as advertising and PR and non-controllable
communication, such as employees discourse, mmours and commentaries made
about the organisation in the media. The Communicated Identity is influenced
by the reputation of the perceived country of origin of the organisation, the
reputation of its industry and in the case of a high public profile organisation by
the reputation of its leader{s}.
Ideal Identity
This refers to the optimum positioning the organisation could achieve in its
market or markets. The Ideal Identity is conceptual and represents the optimal
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
84
John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
situation. It is a function of the environment and notably technology,
competition, industry trends, consumer values, buying behaviour, social
environment It also depends on the generic identity of the industry in which the
organisation is operating.
Desired Identity
This refers to the management vision and the corporate mIssIon of the
organisation. The Desired identity lies in the heads and the hearts of the decision
makers; those who held position of power within the organisation. Whereas the
Ideal identity is a logical constmction and has no substance, the Desired Identity
lives in the fantasies of the organisation's leaders. Annual reports, corporate
missions and business plans may give the appearance of a perfect logic, however,
group fantasies and personal fantasies of key individuals are hidden, but
powerful realities.
Exhibit 11 shows the ACID Test of corporate identity management and short
descriptors of the four types of identity.
Exhibit 11: The ACID Test of Corporate Identity Management'IM
0
ACfUAL IDENTITY
A
The reality of the organisation - internal
values, behaviours, activities, markets
performance, positioning
o
COMMUNICATED IDENTITY
~ Corporate Images, and Corporate
Reputations, and Total Coporate
CD
Communication
I
IDEAL IDENTITY
The Optimum positioning
@
DESIRED IDENTITY
Corporate Owners and senior
management's vision
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management
85
The next sections explains how the ACID Test can be used to pilot corporate
identity programmes.
The
RED ACID
Test process - Using the
ACID
Test "The
4-
+
6
principle"
Using the ACID Test to conducting a corporate identity audit entails a three
stages which fonns the acronym RED (Reveal, Examine and Diagnose), and can
also be referred to as "The 4+6 principle":
1. Reveal the 4 identities (taking into account that the communicated
identity is a dual concept).
2. Examine the 6 interfaces
3. Diagnose the situation
Exhibit 12 shows the RED ACID Test process. The three stages are detailed in
the following paragraphs.
Exhibit 12: The RED ACID Test ProcessTM5
The
RED ACID
Test process:
"The 4+6 Principle"
Reveal: the 4 Identities
(i)
Actual Identity
(ij)
Communicated Identity
(iii)
Ideal Identity
(iv)
Desired Identity
Examine: the 6 interfaces
(1)
Actual - Ideal?
(2)
Actual - Communicaed?
(3)
Actual - Desired?
(4)
Ideal - Communicated?
(5)
Ideal - Desired?
(6)
Communicated - Desired?
Diagnose:
(a)
The problem
(b) Type of change needed
5 TM
The Red Acid Test Process,
J.
M. T. Balmer 1998.
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
86
John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
Reveal
the 4
Identities
The first stage of the RED ACIDTest process consists in revealing the 4 types
of identity. The four identities have to be audited, but the depth of each audit will
vary according to the size and complexity of the project the sophistication of the
client, the amount of strategic thinking that has gone on before the corporate
identity programme on the c1ienfs side and the amount of secondary data
provided by the client Alternatively, if there is uncertainty about any of the four
identities, or if the available infonnation is insufficient then primary research
might be efficacious.
Auditing the 4 identities is best done at the same time, as data gathered for
one identity can also be used in the other audits. The main elements which need
to be addressed for each of type of identity are detailed below as well as some of
the techniques of data-collection and analytic tools which can be used to do so:
Actual Identity
Elements to be researched
include:
Internal values
Perfonnance
of products
and
services
Competitive
position
History
Structure
Management style
Corporate Behavioul
Communicated Identity
Elements to be researched
include:
Corporate Reputations among
various stakeholder groups
Total Corporate
Communications
(Management,
Marketing,
Organisational
Communication
and
Non-controllable
Communication
e.g. employees'
behaviour, comments
in
the press,
etc.)
Visual Identity
Examples of techniques of
data-collection and analysis:
Primary-data: interviews,
observation, experts'
opinion
Secondary-data: desk research,
individual
or
group interviews
Leadership Audit
History Audit
Market Research
Examples of techniques of
data-collection and analysis:
Image Research
Interviews
Communication
Audit (e.g.
semantic analysis, analysis of
media coverage, etc.)
Visual Audit
Observation
6 Corporate Behaviour refers to the stance adopted on issues such as employees
recruitment promotionand pay,environmentalpolicies,communityprogrammes,etc.
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
Ideal Identity
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management
87
Elements to be researched
include:
Strengths and capabilities
Optimum (opt) corporate
positioning
Opt
Core values and corporate
philosophy
Opt
Products and services
features and peifonnances
Opt
Organisational structure
Opt
Market coverage
Opt
Corporate behaviour
Environmental trends
Desired Identity
Elements to be researched
include:
Vision held by senior executives
Vision held byfounders and major
shareholders
Vision of other stakeholders
groups (notably the general
public)
Examples of techniques of
data-collection and analysis:
Strategic analysis: perceptual
mapping, scenario planning,
stakeholders analysis, SWOT and
PEST analysis etc.
Market research
Brainstorming
Examples of techniques of data
- collection and analysis:
Individual interviews
Focus groups
Leadership Audit
Bernstein Cobweb
2. Examine the
6
inteifaces.
The next stage of the RED ACIDTest process consists of an examination of
the relationships between the four identities. Exhibit 13 shows the main issues
concerned with each of the six interfaces. The interfaces have to be used as a
checklist; they represent "moments of tntth" or key Questions which have to
answered by consultants and managers.
3. Diagnose tIle situation
The final stage of the ACIDTest process consists in diagnosing the situation.
Five subsequent questions need to be answered by consultants and managers:
1. Is Ulere
a
problem (or problems)
?
2. What is its (their) nature?
3. WIlat are
the
implications?
4. What is urgent? Important? Desirable?
5. WIlat type of corporate identity change is
needed?
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
88
John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
Exhibit 13: The RED ACID Test - Examining The 6 Interfaces
Interface
The RED ACID Test:
EXAMINE
the interfaces
1
2
3
Is the organisation's positioning optimal? Do internal values.
employees behaviour. product and services performance.
market coverage. management policies reflect this ideal?
Are all the organisation's communications portraying the
organisation as it truly is? Does the Corporate reputation
reflect the organisational reality? Do third parties (e.g....the
press) give a realistic account of the organisation?
Does the reality of the organisation accurately reflect top
management's vision?
4
To what extent is the ideal positioning possible in light of the
organisation's, industry's and country's reputation?
To what extent can the current reputation be improved?
5
Are the corporate mission and management vision strategically
sound. and do they fully exploit the firm's capabilities and
market's opportunities?
6
Is the corporate mission and management vision effectively
communicated, both internally and externally? Are the
corporate reputation and total corporate communication
policies congruent with the management vision'?
A ~ Actual Identity C ~ Communicated Identity I - Ideal Identity 0 - Desired Identity
The purpose of the final stage is to build upon the findings of the four audits
and the analysis of the 6 interfaces. At this stage it might be decided that further
investigation of individual interfaces is required. Managers and consultants are
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management
89
now in a position to detennine the appropriateness of the current corporate
identity management policies and the type and scope of change required. The
RED ACID Test also allows managers and consultants to prioritise the required
changes and distinguish between what is urgent important or simply desirable.
The next section will examine the implications of the ACID Test of corporate
identity management for scholarship, management and consultancy.
Implications for Scholarship, Management and Consultancy
The ACID Test framework can be used to distinguish between 4 types of
corporate identity change programmes on the basis of the number and types of
identities the project is dealing with. This typology brings clarity to corporate
identity scholarship, consultancy and management as it allows one to distinguish
between visual identity programmes and multi-disciplinary programmes. Exhibit
14 below shows a 4-types taxonomy of corporate identity programmes.
Exhibit 14: A Taxonomy of Corporate Identity Programmes
ASPECT(S) OF IDENTITY
REQUlRING CHANGE
©
@®©
Q)@®©
TYPE OF CORPORATE
IDENTITY PROGRAMME
Corporate Communication
&
Visual Identity
programme
Corporate Communication
& Visual Identity
programme
Large-scale multi-
disciplinary Corporate
Identity programme
Full-scale multi-
disciplinary
Strategic Corporate
Identity
A
=
Actual Identity
C
=
Communicated Identity
I
=
Ideal Identity
D
=
Desired Identity
The above classifications may help to bring an end to the detrimental semantic
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
90
John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
confusion which has surrounded corporate identity scholarship and practice
since the early 1970s. Furthennore, the ACID Test forces management to
address four questions:
1. WIlDtis the
current
corporate identity?
2. What image is
communicated by
inJorowl
and
Jonnal
communications
(total corporate
communication)?
3. What would
be
the ideal
identity
Jor
the
organisation
to
acquire in light oj
the
organisation's capabilities
and
in light oj
the
social,
economic,
political
and
technological
environment?
4. What
corporate identity would senior managers
wish
their organisation
to
have?
These four questions mirror some of the key arguments existing in the literature
on corporate identity, image, reputation, communications and graphic design. For
example, addressing question (1) has been advocated by many authors (Abrat:t.
1989 and Balmer, 1995). Moreover, this most important of questions may be
seen to be one of a triumvirate of questions which need to be addressed by
senior managers namely, 'What is our business?" *Dmcker 1955), 'What is our
image?" (Gray and Smeltzer (1985) and, as Balmer and Stotvig (1997) have
argued the third element of the trio is, 'What is our identity?". A key feature of
an organisation's identity related to the "Soul" part of the identity mix - see
Exhibit 3. Recent empirical research cf, Balmer and Wilson (1998) has revealed
that employees affinities with an organisation is very complicated and would
suggest that an organisation's distinctiveness is derived from a plethora of
identities. The aforementioned study questions whether there is such a thing as
a single company culture. Question (2) has been argued by authors such as
Bernstein (1984), Gravand Balmer (1998), Van Riel (1995) and Worcester 0986,
1997). Question (c),surprisingly, is not dealt with by any of the main authorities
in the area and, in part this may be due to the lack of input from the literature
on strategy. Question (d) is addressed by many authors in the literature and
appears to be the main basis 'of most corporate identity programmes. However,
none of the previous models of corporate identity considered all four questions.
Furthermore, unlike previous models of corporate identity or corporate image
management the ACIDTest is based on the assumption that the ultimate aim of
corporate identity management is business survival; the building and sustaining
of a positive reputation (and corporate image) being only a means to an end.
Therefore, the articulation of the ACID Test has allowed the authors to uncover
some of the gaps in the corporate identity literature.
Finally, the ACID Test is of use for strategic corporate identity consultants
since it can be used as a means to differentiate themselves in the corporate
identity consultancy market from design agencies. Notably, this may lead to the
development of a "branded" approach of corporate identity consultancy services:
each type of programme representing a specific type of consultancy service, with
distinct requirement in tenns of skills and knowledge from the consultants, and
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management
91
commibnent from the clients. The proposed framework has been kept to four
variables, in order to make it a practical tool which can be used by managers and
corporate identity consultants. The authors are of the view that the ACID test
provides a valuable addition to the tool-box of management consultants wishing
to adopt a structured approach to "soft management issues". Finally, multi-
disciplinary consultancies might find the framework useful in that it cuts across
traditional boundaries between organisational behaviour, management,
marketing and communication.
In parallel, the ACIDTest provides a benchmark to evaluate corporate identity
programmes. Consultants and managers can track which of the four types of
identity and their 6 interfaces have been looked at and dealt with. The ACIDTest
has in the authors' opinion therefore the potential to set new standards for
corporate identity management, scholarship and consultancy.
Acknowledgements
The authors wish to thank the two anonymous academic reviewers together with
the Guest Editor for their most helpful comments. Some elements of this paper
are derived from 'The Transatlantic Identity Study" which was sponsored by
Enterprise IG. The lead researcher and author gratefully acknowledges the
support given by Enterprise IG in 1996 - 1997 and the assistance given by his
research assistant, Mr Guillaume Soenen, and by Professor Stephen
A
Greyser,
who acted as Special Adviser to this study.
TM
(Pending)
Tile Add Test of Corporate Identity
Management and
Tile Red
Acid Test Process. ].M.T.Balmer 1998.
References
Abratt, R. (1989), "A New Approach to the Corporate Image Management
Process",
]oumal of Marketing
Management 5(1): 63-76.
Albert, S. and Whetten, D. (1985), "Organizational Identity", in L. L. Cummings
&
B. M. Staw (Eds)
Research in Organizational Behaviour,
7: pp. 263-295.
Greenwich, CT,jAI Press.
Balmer, ].M.T. (1998), "Corporate Identity and the Advent of Corporation
Marketing",
]oumal of Marketing Management
14, pp. 963-996
Balmer jM.T. and Wilson
A
(1998), "Corporate Identity: It is more than meets
the eye",
Intemational Studies of Management and Organisations.
Forthcoming.
Balmer, ].M.T.and Stotvig, S. (1997), "Corporate Identity and Private Banking: a
review and case study"
Intemational ]oumal of Bank Marketing: Special
Edition
on
Corporate Identity in Financial Services,
Vol 15, No 5, pp 169-
184.
Balmer, jM.T. and Soenen, G. (1997), "Operationalising the Concept of Corporate
Identity: Articulating the Corporate Identity Mix and the Corporate Identity
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
92
John M.T. Balmer and Guillaume B. Soenen
Management Mix",
Department of Marketing Working Paper Series, 97/8,
University of Strathclyde.
Balmer, ].M.T. (1995), "Corporate branding and Connoisseurship",
Journal of
General Management
Vol 21, No 2, pp 24-46.
Bernstein, D. (1984)
Company Image and Reality,
Reinhart and Winston,
Eastbourne.
Birkigt
K
&
Stadler, M.(1986),
Corporate Identity, Grundlagen, Funktionen und
Beispielen.
Verlag, Moderne Industrie, Landsberg an Lech.
Dowling, G.R (1993), "Developing Your Image into a Corporate Asset",
Long
Range Planning,
26(2): 101-109.
Drucker, P.F. (1995),
The Practice of Management
Butterworth Heinnemann,
Oxford.
Gray, E.R and Balmer, ].M.T.(1998), "Managing Corporate Image and Corporate
Reputation",
Long Range Planning.
Forthcoming.
Gray E. R and Smeltzer, L. R (1985), "SRMforum: Corporate Image - An integral
part of strate[y",
Sloan Management Review,
Summer, 26(4): 73-8.
Hatch, MJ. and Schultz, M. (1997), "Relations between Organisational Culture,
Identity and Image",
European Journal of Marketing,
Special Edition on
Corporate Identity, 31(5-6): 356-365.
Kennedy, S. H. (1977), "Nurturing Corporate Images - Total Communication or
Ego Trip?",
European Journal of Marketing,
11: 120-64.
Lar<:on, ]. P. and Reitter, R (1979), Structures de
Pouvier
et
Identite
de
L'Enterprise,
Nathan, Paris
Marwick, N. and Fill, C. (1997), ''Towards a framework for managing Corporate
Identity",
European Journal of Marketing,
Special Edition on Corporate
Identity, 31(5/6): 396-409.
Morison, I. (1997), "Breaking the monolithic mould",
International Journal of
Bank Marketing,
Special Edition on Corporate Identity in Financial Services,
15(4&5): 153-162.
Patton, M.Q. (1990)
Qualitative evaluation and research methods,
2nd Edition,
Sage, London.
Riel, van C.M.B.and Balmer ].M.T. (1997), "Corporate Identity: the concept its
measurement and management",
European ]oumal of Marketing,
Special
Edition on Corporate Identity, 31(5/6):340-355.
Riel,van CM.B. (1995),
Corporate Communications.
Prentice Hall, London.
Stuart H. (1998) "Exploring the Corporate Identity/Corporate Image Interface"2,
Unpublished Paper presented at The Department of Marketing's first
Symposium on Corporate Identity Management University of Strathclyde,
Scotland.
Van Maaneen ]. (1983)
Qualitative Methodology.
London. Sage.
Worcester, R (1986), "Corporate Image". In R Worcester and Downham,]. (Eds.)
Consumer Market Research Handbook:
601-606. McGraw Hill,London.
Worcester, RM. (1997), "Managing the image of your bank: the glue that binds",
International Journal of Bank Marketing,
Special Edition on Corporate
Identity in Financial Services, Vol 15, No 5, pp 146-152.
Downloaded by [EMLYON Business School] at 02:47 28 July 2015
... Згодом Дж. Балмер у своїх наукових працях розмежував поняття аналізу та управління корпоративною ідентичністю, визначивши, що мікс корпоративної ідентичності складається з культури, комунікацій, структури та стратегії, а мікс управління корпоративною ідентичністю складається з умов зовнішнього середовища, репутації та стейкхолдерів [17]. Таким чином, він визначив стратегію як складову частину корпоративної ідентичності, надавши нового трактування взаємозалежності між поняттями. ...
... Дискусійним пи-танням стало визначення та додавання до міксу неконтрольованих комунікацій, ризик-менеджменту, поведінки і непрямих комунікацій. «Розумом» компанії слугували візія та філософія, архітектура бренду (портфеля брендів), стратегія реалізації товарів і надання послуг [17]. З часом до поняття бренду було додане визначення «корпоративний», а до міксу також додалась корпоративна історія. ...
... Для визначення необхідності змін у стратегії підприємств було створено мікси корпоративної ідентичності. Проте, коли фахівці почали використовувати теорію на практиці, з'ясувалось, що існує великий розрив між тим, що аналітики та науковці визначали як фактичну корпоративну ідентичність підприємства і тим, що менеджери підприємства визначали як корпоративну ідентичність, яку вони хотіли донести до стейкхолдерів компанії [17]. Іншими словами, мова іде про різницю між фактичною і бажаною та комунікаційною ідентичністю. ...
... 1. We define actual identity of Islamic Bank as whether Islamic Banks implement business strategy, values and philosophy and corporate culture in accordance with Islamic teachings. (For detailed discussion on actual, communicated, ideal and desired identity, see Gray and Balmer (1998) and Balmer and Soenen (1999). ...
Article
Purpose This study aims to investigate whether Islamic morality is considered by Islamic rural banks in credit application assessments. Design/methodology/approach To achieve the objective, we conduct an exploratory analysis of data gathered through document analysis, focus group discussions and interviews with Islamic rural banks stakeholders. Additionally, we conduct a survey to validate the findings. Findings We find that while Islamic rural banks conduct conventional credit analysis using 5C (Character, Capacity, Collateral, Capital, and Conditions), they also consider Islamic morality in their credit decisions. They emphasise several indicators such as reputation for keeping promises to customers, to suppliers, to neighbours, and the Islamic character (akhlaq) of the credit applicants. Overall, we conclude that Islamic rural banks consider Islamic morality in their credit assessments. Originality/value To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study using a mixed method of quantitative and qualitative approach to investigate how Islamic rural banks assess the credit applications. In particular, this study examines whether Islamic rural banks consider Islamic morality in their credit decisions.
Article
Affiliates’ sense of oneness in a Global Union Federation (GUF) is pivotal for that GUF to be able to counter the forces of globalisation. We argue that GUF saliency in affiliates’ identity is the microfoundation of this sense of oneness. We examine this facet of identity by analysing the contents of the websites of 2314 affiliates of four major GUFs. Our three‐step study explores the extent to which and why GUFs’ saliency varies across affiliates. First, we compute a GUF saliency index score for each affiliate based on its website contents. Second, we examine the impact of macro‐institutional characteristics (national employment relations and socioeconomic characteristics) on the GUF saliency score. Finally, focusing on one GUF, Public Service International and drawing on 19 semi‐structured interviews in 16 countries across six world regions, we highlight appeal and relationships, and especially their joint effect, as fundamental forces to explain the variations between affiliates. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for GUF debate and policies.
Article
Full-text available
Firm–employee relationships are a prerequisite for customer–firm relationships and, consequently, to organizational success. The development of such relationships can be particularly challenging for retailers because of the complexity of the service component inherent to the environment in which they usually operate. For this reason, organizations need to align employee behaviors with the corporate brand promise so that they can perform a more active role as brand ambassadors. This issue becomes even more complex for organizations with a presence in foreign markets. This study focuses on how the adoption of in-role branding behavior by front-line employees (FLEs) can be influenced by the level of commitment FLEs display towards the corporate brand and how commitment is consequently influenced by corporate brand identity and corporate brand identity FLES’ perception of their role within the organization. The object of the study was the employees of Falabella, a multinational retailer based in Chile with a strong presence in the Colombian market. Results obtained demonstrate that brand commitment positively and significantly impacts FLE brand-oriented behavior in the retail context examined. More specifically, brand identity and role clarity positively impact brand commitment, leading to a positive impact on FLE brand behavior and job satisfaction. The results of this study offer valuable insight for scholars and practitioners regarding employee brand behavior’s engendering process within a retail environment in an emerging market.
Article
Full-text available
The objective of this paper is to analyse the relationship between corporate identity and loyalty in a public institution of higher education in an institutional crisis context. Moreover, the aim is to study the possible moderating effect that brand identification can have on this relationship. The information required to conduct the empirical analysis was obtained from an online survey. Data processing was carried out using the PLS‐SEM technique. The results obtained show that in an institutional crisis context, corporate identity influences university loyalty positively and significantly. However, it is detected that brand identification moderates the relationship between corporate identity and loyalty positively and significantly in an institutional crisis situation. In addition, we also observe that this moderating effect is greater in students than in graduates. It is considered a useful contribution, as it is one of the first studies in which the proposed relationships are analysed in an institutional crisis context. In addition, there is a concern about investigating the possible existence of the moderating role exerted by brand identification and if there are significant differences between students and graduates in this moderating effect. Significant practical implications arise from the results of this work, which can be particularly useful for managers of the type of organizations analysed.
Article
Managing and marketing a corporate identity (CI) can be complex because most firms anchor their identity on multiple meanings and often fail to recognize this complexity in their communication. The manuscript’s purpose is to introduce a linguistic methodological tool, the Greimasian Semiotic Square, for analyzing the corporate identity congruence (CIC) in which meanings fit together to form a holistic blend of meanings. Specifically, we demonstrate: an inductive coding process to explain CI meanings and descriptors, an analysis of virtual relations between CI meanings, a validation within eight diverse case firms, and an application to all five CIC dimensions.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the importance of localizing online communities (OCs) and examines how OC members form impressions of organizations that use OCs in their communication activities. A conceptual framework and measurement scale are developed that consist of complex latent constructs. Design/methodology/approach A sequential multi-method approach is adopted with both qualitative and quantitative investigations. Using Structural equation modeling, the research refines and validates the measurement scales of impression formation in OCs. Findings Findings reveal that comprehensive messages have a direct effect on the impressions that an OC member forms. In particular, social context cues are an important predictor of online community corporate impression (OCCIP). Source credibility, affiliation, characteristics and interpersonal communication are all critical to OCCIP, which in turn, influence members’ attitudes toward the company and the intention to use it again. Surprisingly, relevance, timeliness, accuracy and perceived similarity did not have any significant effect on the corporate impression. Originality/value Three contributions are offered: First, the study provides reliable scales for measuring OCCIP. Second, support is given to the conceptual model that links OCCIP to a set of consequences, namely, attitudes toward the company, intention to use the company, and word-of-mouth. Finally, the study is conducted across two different and unique types of OC contexts, stipulating further insights into the localization of OCs.
Chapter
The term “Corporate Social Responsibility” has gained lot of momentum in the last few decades. Carroll’s pyramidal model has made significant contribution to the debate by categorizing corporate social responsibility into four broad dimensions: Economic, Legal, Ethical and Philanthropic. This paper looks into different dimensions of corporate social responsibility and tries to deconstruct its primary motive. Through the scanning of literatures on the definitions of corporate social responsibility concept, this paper tries to understand the focus of such an attempt. It then takes the help of qualitative in-depth interview methodology to understand what the corporate managers in India across sectors feel about corporate social responsibility. This leads to convergence of literature review and in-depth interview findings benefiting both academic and corporate world. The findings suggest that although companies seem to accomplish such responsibility for societal purposes, the ultimate objective is an economically viable model which leads to the sustainability of a corporate organization.
Article
Full-text available
The building of corporate identity underpins corporate brand management. 'A new age requires new ways. ' The third millennium is almost upon us. It is a time for senior managers to take stock. To take stock of their existing responsibilities; to anticipate how their role and function will change and to identify the skills and qualities required of their progeny. With the ascendancy of corporate brands it follows that in the new millennium senior managers will need to demonstrate vigour and elan in corporate brand management: thus, the need for this article. This article will explain the raison d'etre of corporate brand management; illustrate its eclectic nature; provide a simple model of corporate identity formation (which underpins corporate brand management); comment on different approaches to corporate brand management and provide a check list for evaluating a corporate brand.
Article
Full-text available
The concepts of corporate reputation and corporate identity represent a relatively new and supplemental lens through which top management can address the strategic issues facing their firm. To help guide the thinking of senior executives in managing their organization’s reputation and image, the authors present a pragmatic operational model. The model shows that in addition to an understanding of corporate reputation and image, managers needs to understand their firm’s corporate identity and corporate communications, and the interrelationships amongst these components. The authors argue that in today’s sensitive business milieu, a firm’s ultimate survival may well depend on developing and maintaining a recognizable image and favorable reputation.
Article
Full-text available
This paper places corporate identity studies in a historical context with the writer arguing that there have been four distinct phases in the area's evolution. Currently, there is increasing international and interdisciplinary contact between scholars engaged in identity research. Recent developments have led the writer to postulate that the literature on corporate identity, organisational identity and corporate communication may be regarded as forming the basic building blocks of a new, cognate area of management which in time may be known as Corporate Marketing. However, the marketing mix as applied to organisations in their totality will need to be rethought. In this paper the 4Ps are extended to 10Ps with philosophy, personality, people, performance, perception and positioning complementing the existing 4Ps. In addition, the author identifies nine key interfaces, which need to be examined by managers and consultants when reviewing an organisation's identity. Such interfaces represent 'moments of truth' for an organisation's senior management when evaluating their organisation's identity.
Article
Banking in Britain has suffered a crisis of identity in recent years. The British public’s favourable attitude towards the British clearing banks has declined along with a perception that standards of service have fallen and that building societies offer better standards of service. Argues that marketing and image research studies should be given the same attention as the monthly financial figures, should be treated with the same respect and should feed into strategic decision making. Suggests that financial institutions need to focus on five areas of activity, namely: strategic direction; legal threats to survival; capital management; succession; and protection and promotion of the corporate reputation. Outlines the benefits accruing from image and gives guidelines as to why and how a bank’s corporate image should be managed.
Article
Explores the implications of Midland Bank’s attempts in the mid-1980s to adopt an endorsed corporate identity strategy and to brand its personal financial services. Sets out the reasons why banks have traditionally applied monolithic identity systems and eschewed explicit branding, and presents Midland’s reasons for challenging that paradigm - chiefly the nature of its group structure and its desire to segment its personal market more effectively. While the Midland approach was not a commercial success, it provides some general lessons which help to inform corporate identity theory in general and financial sector identity and branding theory in particular. These include the need for identity to be contingent on strategy, the importance of “soft” as well as “hard” identity features, the conflicts between different identity systems (e.g. firm-specific versus industry-generic) and the problems of applying branding theory to products which are in essence no more than contracts.