Having an identity is important for all organisations, whether profit or nonprofit making. In financial and legal terms, an organisation is described as ‘a distinct legal personality’. The term ‘personality’ can be viewed from a marketing perspective in the context of what makes up a corporate identity, and how it can be built.
The name of the organisation is what gives the immediate association of what the organiasation does. The objectives, values and operating style, among others, are then brought out through the organisation’s mission statement. Being inanimate, an organisation needs its leadership to give it a name depicted in its distinctive logo and strap lines, and bring out its ‘character’ through the team, the products and services it offers and methods of operation. This is where business performance, following professional standards and working ethically leave a positive mark on the organisations’ clients, stakeholders and hence its identity. In turn, this contributes to goodwill and shareholder value.
On the other hand, the corporate image is built through the reputation it develops and maintains. An organisation may adversely affect its image through, for example, a defective product, which happens to find its way into the market. The remedy partly lies in the way it handles this occurrence, through a product recall and an effective PR exercise as examples. The way the organisation builds and maintains a relationship with its clients, customers and stakeholders means that it can in fact earn their support when needed. Effectively, although organisations may face situations which may have an impact on their image and reputation, through marketing tools and a professional route, they can still maintain their true identity very much like a person’s ‘personality’ can become stronger through the way adverse situations are handled.
Building the identity of an organisation takes more than giving it a name and creating a logo, which in themselves take substantial time in thought and work. When organisations excel in the way they operate, in how they motivate their teams, they continue to build a good name and concurrently, a reputation. The way the organisation promotes its products and services, builds brands, pricing policies and choice of distribution to reach the different market segments all reflect its identity by living up to its name and creating an effect on its image.
Just as there are elements which make up a smart personality, there are those which create the identity of the organisation. Examples are its location, offices, upkeep of its premises, livery of car fleet and uniforms, stationery, creativity and style used in the organisation’s communications.
Communication or portrayal of the organisation’s identity can start from the design and ambience created from where it operates, the creativity used in its publicity and messages to its target audience. Carrying this out strategically will effectively reach the segments which a company wishes to target for its products and services or for its cause in the case of a non-profit making organisation.