Corporate Brand Management: Aligning Core Values, Strategic Vision, Corporate Culture and Image

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CORPORATE BRAND ALIGNMENT 1
Corporate Brand Management: Aligning Core Values, Strategic Vision, Corporate Culture and Image.

Abstract
Although the importance of corporate brand alignment is generally recognised, only a limited number of tools are available to assess and manage corporate brands proactively. In this article the Vision, Culture and Image (VCI) method by Hatch and Schultz (2001) was used to assess corporate brand alignment. The main research objective was to investigate the role of core values in gaps identified using the model. An alternative model, with core values at the centre of the VCI model is proposed. Data was collected in a manufacturing organisation in the Netherlands. A selected group of 39 employees participated in structured depth interviews to describe the current situation. Results show that the VCI method is a useful method to explore potential gaps between vision, culture and image. Eleven different gaps were discovered among vision, culture and image, and illustrated with additional information regarding the extent of gaps and the perceived effects on the organisation. Moreover, a positive relation between the link to core values and the effect of gaps was found. Gaps that are strongly linked to core values have a significant negative (perceived) effect on the organisation. Further, it appears that different management and employees use different perspectives on core values in order to link them to misalignments. Depth interviews show that in this case study managers link values-in-use to gaps meanwhile the employees links espoused values to gaps. Keywords: corporate brand alignment, core values, VCI model, branding tool, brand management

CORPORATE BRAND ALIGNMENT 3
Introduction
Corporate Branding
Corporate branding can be defined as a systematic process of creating and maintaining positive images and a positive reputation of the company as a whole by sending signals to all stakeholders, by managing behaviour and all internal and external communication (Einwiller & Will, 2002; Van Riel, 2001). Christensen and Askegaard (2001) describe corporate branding as the sum of orgnaisational expressions, that are communicated to its various audiences, through core values (Ind, 1997), the behaviour of employees (Duncan & Moriarty, 1998; Tomczac & Bexendorf, 2003) and via all corporate communication to all internal and external stakeholders (Rode & Vallaster, 2005). Corporate branding has received a lot attention recently (e.g. Balmer, 2001; Hatch & Schultz, 2001; Ind, 1997; Schultz & de Chernatony, 2002; Schultz & Hatch, 2003). Academics increasingly acknowledge that corporate branding refers to creating an organisation’s unique characteristic, (De Cheratony, 1999, 2001, Esch, Tomczak, Kernstock, Langer, 2004) and that managers must pay attention to corporate branding, as it is acknowledged as an important driver for added value for all stakeholders of a company (Hawabhy, Abratt, Peter, 2009). Empiric research shows that a strong corporate brand has positive effects on the positioning of new products and product extensions (Brown & Dacin, 1997; Ind, 1997), customer attractivness, investor confidence and employees motivation (Balmer, 2001a). The effects on a number of different key stakeholders (Balmer, 2001a, Brown & Dacin, 1997; Ind, 1997) underpin the importance of strong positioining for both, external and internal positioning (Harris & De Chernatony, 2001).

CORPORATE BRAND ALIGNMENT 4
Vision, Culture and Image approach
The growing recognition of the importance of corporate branding and corporate brand positioning piqued Hatch and Schultz’s interest. According to Hatch and Schultz (2001) successful corporate branding is typically based on the alignment between (1) the strategic goals of the top management level (strategic vision ), (2) the knowledge and attitude of the employees (corporate culture) and (3) the perceptions of external stakeholders (image) (see figure 1). In other words,...
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