What is corporate identity?
The task of defining corporate identity is challenging. Different views and definitions were introduced to the concept. The first time the “corporate identity” term was used was in 1957 by Lippincott and Margulies (Cornelissen & Elving, 2003). It was constrained by the visual representation of the organization by which means it identify itself. The understanding of the concept has expanded later to include all the characteristics that gives the organization its specificity, stability, and coherence (Larcon and Reitter 1979; Reitter and Ramananrsoa 1985 in (Moingeon & Ramanantsoa, 1997)) which includes culture, strategy, and core competency (Cornelissen & Elving, 2003), this supports Balmer & Gray (1999) argument that corporate identity can be a source of competitive advantage. Although the concept has expanded to include more than the visual representation, visual cues still are assigned a great value in terms of communicating the corporate values and ethos rather than being a means of increasing the corporate visibility (Balmer, 1998). Balmer argues that the visual identity can play an important role in communicating strategic change and thus can be powerful. Albert and Whetten’s (1985) in (Cornelissen & Elving, 2003) have defined identity as the organization character that is central, enduring, and distinct. Tsai (2008) adds to the previous definition that corporate identity is also of collective nature (Tsai, 2008). Olins (1989) discuss that all outputs of an organization contributes to the construction of its identity (van Rekom, 1997). Olins (1995) has defined corporate identity as “the explicit management of all the ways in which the organization presents itself through experiences and perceptions to all its audiences”. Therefore, corporate identity is not concerned only with customers; rather it handles perceptions and identification of corporation to all stakeholders and is spanning beyond the visual design of the logos and letters of the organization to include its collective behaviour as an organization. Balmer and van Riel (1997) stated that corporate identity is rooted in the behaviour of its members which supports the argument that corporate identity is of a collective nature. Van Rekom (1997) defines identity as "the set of meanings by which an object allows itself to be known and through which it allows people to describe, remember and relate to it". He conclude that identity reside in the corporate side but adds to the formation of a corporate image in the stakeholders side. Melewar and Wooldridge (2001) identified corporate identity as a strategic manifestation of corporate-level vision and mission, underpinned by the strategies which a corporation employs in its operations or production. In the previous definition it is presumed that corporate identity is aligned with the corporate vision which is the ideal case to leverage the benefits of corporate identity. Van Riel (1997) defines corporate identity as the self presentation of an organization, rooted in the behaviour of individual organizational members, expressing the organization’s continuity, distinctiveness, and centrality. The challenge in defining the concept lies in its complexity and interdisciplinary nature as explained by Balmer and Soenen (1999). The International Corporate Identity Group (ICIG), therefore, came up with a statement of corporate identity, The Strathclyde Statement, to describe it. Please refer to Appendix B for the ICIG statement. A commonality between all attempts to define corporate identity, as well as, The Strathclyde Statement, indicates its characteristics which are concluded to be: 1. Collective.
4. Identifying of corporate.
6. Manifested by corporate-level strategy (vision and mission). 7. Affecting corporate image and affected by corporate image. 8. Can be...