Considering brands as an experience and a concept that transmit identity, reputation and relationship between the company and its audiences, we face a reality where those elements will be more or less relevant according to the interests and needs of each public in particular:
- If the audience consists of clients and customers, identity will be more relevant through image communication.
- For shareholders, reputation will be more relevant when presenting the business value proposition as well as metrics of its performance.
- When it comes to the company’s managers and employees the relationship between both audiences will prevail over identity and reputation.
In all cases, the brand is present. The change is the communicative relevance of the elements the company wants to convey.
During the last years, brands were created responding to an “industrial” reality which today seems to be far away, linear and, in some cases, limited.
Until not long ago, the company itself represented a system that kept a sometimes precautious relationship with its environment and which also admitted the existence of something farther and without a direct relationship with it: The Universe.
Today, company and system are two different things: Ikea is the company; the system involves vendors and customers.
The environment is an attractive part for the system, and therefore, it tries to attract it. Again, referring to Ikea, the environment is formed by potential customers, new designers or other companies whose offer is a complement to its own offer. The universe is represented by everything beyond the environment and which has no influence on the system and the company. However, due to the information available, both companies and universe are not unknown to each other.
Within the universe, attractive segments for the company also exist. They comply with the target of sharing values, possessing shared knowledge and going through similar experiences. They still need to be “properly introduced”, i.e. that communication is established.
Identity is shared by the system. The company’s brand begins to be associated to other brands in the system. As usual, all this involves many risks, but several opportunities as well.
The alumni of a Business School are a good example of this. People’s names and last names are a good representation of their identity. Adding a business school brand to yours conveys something else about that person. “John Smith” means something specific for those who know who he is. “John Smith, MBA from INSEAD” means something else for those knowing who he is and for those who do not as well. Neither better nor worse: just different.
From a professional point of view, a brand becomes a guarantee in its environment. Within alumni’s community it works as a reference of values and features of shared identity.
Besides, some business schools are asking their alumni to get involved in the admission process of new students. Are they employees of the institution? No, but they certainly they are part of the system.
The company, as far as the construction of its identity is concerned, is a multidimensional system. It appears as a business and as representative of its products and services, it is managed according to the desired behaviour of strategic variables, both internal and external to the company, under the latter’s control though, and comes into existence from functional and emotional elements which build its value proposition.
Within the company, a shared identity is practical and emotionally valued, differentiates the organisation and creates a sense of belonging. To external audiences it means credibility and becomes its emotional difference.
Companies, being more than their business model, seek not only for results but also for a deep share of feelings. More than making profits, their aim is generating emotions, being ethical and conveying a personality of their own. This is called attitude.
This model of company requires a strong identity to create a credible and relevant image to their different audiences. Its attitude transcends the people who create and manage the business.
A shared identity is practical, it makes the Organisation a different one, it helps to create a sense of belonging, it conveys credibility and it makes the emotional difference