Corporate Identity

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Corporate identity – the management of the process of change in the name/logo in the context of brands’ merger

Joana César Machado
Paulo de Lencastre
Pedro Dionísio

Universidade Católica Portuguesa
Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa

The creation of strong corporate identity, including identity signs, is crucial for companies to encourage positive attitudes in its different target publics (Dowling, 1993; Van Riel & Balmer, 1997), and may provide an important competitive advantage (Simões, Dibb & Fisk, 2005). The corporate name and logo are two essential components of the corporate identity construct, since they are the most pervasive elements in corporate and brand communications (Henderson & Cote, 1998; Schechter, 1993), and play a crucial role in the communication of the desired positioning strategy (Alessandrini, 2001; Van Riel & Van den Ban, 2001). The reasons for changes in the brand identity signs are numerous, nevertheless mergers are one of the main events leading to a new name and logo (Ettenson, 2004; Kapferer, 1997; Dellatre, 1999 and 2002; Stuart & Muzellec, 2004). Furthermore, the building of a strong and clear corporate visual identity is critical for the merger’s success (Balmer e Dinnie,1999; Melewar, 2001; Rosson e Brooks, 2004). On the other hand, we should notice that there is a need for empirical research in the domain of the management of corporate identity, namely visual identity (Melewar, 2001), as well as studies that examine the reaction of the several audiences to the management of corporate identity (Simões, Dibb & Fisk, 2005). The aim of this study is therefore to give an answer to the following research questions: 1. In a merger situation, what type of behaviours can organisations assume in terms of corporate identity, in particular, in respect to the identity signs (name and logo)? 2. How are the different corporate identity change options perceived by consumers (recognition, affect, associations)?

Conceptual background
In the first part of the conceptual background we define the brand, departing from the Peircean conception of a sign[1], as a concept established in three columns: the sign column (name, logo), the object column (product, organisation) and the interpretative column (the image in the different target publics of the brand) (Mollerup 1997; Lencastre 1997). Next we present the most relevant theoretical perspectives on the name and logo, the key elements of the brand identity mix, given their generalised use and legal protection, and explain how these identity signs may contribute to the creation of brand awareness and the formation of brand associations. In the third part, we explore the most relevant perspectives on corporate identity, and present an holistic view of the construct, which may include corporate symbols, communications and behaviour (Balmer, 2001; Hatch and Schultz, 1997; Van Riel and Balmer, 1997), but also the mission, philosophy and values (Abratt, 1989; Balmer, 1994; Simões, Dibb & Fisk, 2005), or organisational culture (Baker & Balmer, 1997; Melewar & Jenkins, 2002; Stuart, 1998). Our focus is on one of the dimensions of the corporate identity construct, namely the main identity signs – names and logos – that the organisation uses to identify itself, to communicate its mission and values and delineate the relations with its audiences (Alessandrini, 2001; Henderson e Cote, 1998; Van Riel & Van den Ban, 2001). In the fourth part we present a conceptual framing of corporate image, and suggest that corporate identity and corporate image are closely interrelated, because perceptions among various audiences often build on overall communication instruments used by organisations (including names, logos/symbols, etc.) (Dacin e Brown, 2002; Zinkhan e al, 2001). Finally, we present a typology of the corporate identity structures that...
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