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The Power of Corporate Branding
By Steven Howard, Howard Marketing Services

Everything an organization does, and does not do, affects the perception of that organization and its performance, products, and services. These perceptions affect its ability to recruit the financial resources, people and partnerships it needs to attain its goals and objectives.

Every organization has a corporate image, whether it wants one or not. When properly designed and managed, the corporate image will accurately reflect the level of the organization's commitment to quality, excellence and relationships with its various constituents including current and potential customers, employees and future staff, competitors, partners, governing bodies, and the general public at large.

As a result, the corporate image is a critical concern for every organization, one deserving the same attention and commitment by senior management as any other vital issue. This is perhaps even truer for new and medium-sized businesses that must grapple for customer attention and the recruitment of financial and human resources without the aid of large communications budgets.

The corporate image is a dynamic and profound affirmation of the nature, culture and structure of an organization. This applies equally to corporations, businesses, government entities, and non-profit organizations and communicates the organization's mission, the professionalism of its leadership, and the calibre of its employees.

Everything an organization does, and does not do, affects the perception of that organization and its performance, products, and services. These perceptions affect its ability to recruit the financial resources, people and partnerships it needs to attain its goals and objectives. This premise has two predominant concerns for companies entering the 21st Century:

  • an understanding that the corporate image is a major strategic concern that can have a direct impact on the level of success the organization achieves through its other marketing and management efforts, and
  • an understanding that a coherent corporate image needs to be integrated into the organization at all levels.
  • Looked at from a marketing perspective, corporate brand management needs to be an on-going, synergistic management tool, rather than a one-time "corporate image exercise" as currently practised by most organizations and almost all corporate identity consultants. Corporate image management, therefore, becomes a comprehensive and all-embracing process that internalises a new skill set for managing relationships between constituents at all levels in the organization. Its goal is to enable sustainable relationship advantages to be developed with key audiences.

Corporate image management focuses on the very heart and soul of the organization, even to the extent of evaluating why the organization exists and determining the organization's key purposes. It represents one of the highest levels of functional control of the organization.

Perhaps more importantly, the corporate brand provides a mechanism for the organization to:

  • differentiate itself from competition,
  • create recognised added- value to the products and services marketed or delivered by the organization, and
  • attract and maintain customer relationships in order to prosper in an increasingly competitive and constantly changing global marketplace.
  • The corporate image also represents the highest level of brand personality and characteristics that can be created and communicated to customers and marketing partners. From both a marketing and management perspective, management of the corporate brand needs to be integrated into the organization's development at all levels, starting from the top.

The corporate brand comprises all the visual, verbal and behavioural elements that make up the organization. In many respects, the corporate image should be a dynamic actualisation of the Chief Executive Officer's vision, integrated with the corporation's mission and strategic plan. It should be thoroughly planned and constantly managed in order to support and sustain the corporation's mission. If managed effectively, it should protect the organization against competition from new competitors or from current competitors offering new products and services. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case.

The corporate image combines the organization's self-perceptions with those of its constituents. It is the raison d


Steven Howard is Asia's leading marketing consultant and positioning specialist, with over 22 years experience. The author of two books and numerous articles, you may reach him at www.howard-marketing.com or steven@howard-marketing.com.

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