Review of Professor John Balmer

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Brandford Professor John Balmer’s paper “From the Pentagon: A New Identity Framework” illustrates a framework of five identity types: the actual, communicated, conceived, ideal and desired identities. The framework also shows the interfaces between each two of the above identities. I think the pentagon framework illustrated in the paper is a very helpful tool with following key advantages: 1. It analyzes the corporate identity not in a “static” way, but shows the identity in different stage of development or in different time-frames. 2. It helps to identify the gaps between what one wants to achieve and the reality / current status; it helps to identify whether there is any misalignment between what one does, says and how it is perceived. Only when gaps and misalignments are identified, improvement actions can be made to achieve the target objective. 3. It also provides some guidance to identify what elements (management roots) might impact the different identity types. With its help, the improvement plans can be more focused and fall into respective responsibilities. However, the framework also has its own restrictions:

1.The framework is mainly focused on the corporate itself – the internal goal, but does not give enough attention to the external audience. It answers the questions of “what” (identity types), “when” (time frame), “how” (management roots) and even “how well” (the gaps & misalignments if any), but it fails to answer the questions of “why” and “whom”. The question of “why” is about the reason to support such identity strategy – the business environment, the market & competitor situation, the social, political & economic context etc. The question “whom” is about to what audience a corporation is addressing to – who are the stakeholders, what they are concerned with, how they perceive things, how they are influenced and in what way and to what extent they can influence a corporation. Without proper and thorough understanding of the audience, the...
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