Reviewed by Dr Jessica Backlund (MA, PhD) and Shaun Powell (Btech AIMgt BAHons) from the International Corporate Branding and Identity Centre. ...
Quick review : Star rating 4. This book covers issues relating to identity, reputation, branding and communication in a mainly academic manner. But there are empirical examples and plenty of practical ideas included as well. Suitable for both academics and practitioners, although not always an easy read, and not all chapters feel right for the book.
Full review : The editors of this book argue that organisations are increasingly competing based on their ability to express who they are and what they stand for - hence the title of the book. The chapters are written by authors from organisation studies, communication, marketing, strategy and accounting. Most of the authors are academics, but have practical experience and have collaborated with practitioners.
The authors have sought to come up with integrative ideas that can be implemented as well as more theoretical ideas.
The book covers issues such as how organisations discover their identities, how a growing organisation's' identity can be broaden, the processes involved in changing an organisation's identity, how a strong reputation can be created, what organisations should communicate about themselves and what they can do if their reputation is threatened.
Part 1, which contains two chapters, is called Rethinking Identity and deals with identity at the organisational level. It is an introduction to the different conceptualisations of corporate as well as organisational identity. The first chapter looks at different approaches to identity within various fields. It is a resonable attempt to capture the issues from an academic perspective (not always easy) but also tends to over generalise the research contributions and viewpoints of some of the academic fields they discuss (such as that of marketing). Chapter 2 looks at how organisational identity can be a competitive advantage for companies.
Part 2, also consisting of two chapters, is called The Symbolic Marketplace. It is about the symbolic dimensions of the new market place. The first chapter takes a historical perspective, and looks at how the roles of brands and branding changed in the last part of the 20th century, and how brands are becoming the company's most critical source of distinctiveness and value. The next chapter looks at organisational life and argues that the boundaries between consumers and organisational members are becoming blurred.
Part 3, comprised of two chapters, is called Reputation as Strategy. The first chapter analyses the transformation of Royal Dutch Shell. The second one looks at how damaged corporate reputations can be repaired.
Part 4, titled Organisations as Brands, looks at the implications of branding organisations. The first chapter looks at how different kinds of images can be associated with corporate brands and different ways corporate identity can be expressed in. It also looks at issued relating to building and managing brand equity. The second chapter argues that many brand tools are dated and do not create value for the customer. It expands the marketing mix to include reputation and suggests an integrative framework and methodology for organisational brand building.
Part 5 has four chapters and is called The Value of Story telling. The chapters in this part look at corporate stories and include empirical illustrations of how story telling can be used in organisations.
Part 6 contains three chapters and is titled Communicating Organisations. It deals with the communication of the expressive organisation. It covers issues such as the self-absorption and self- seduction in corporate branding, and questions whether the public really cares about the expressions generated by companies.
This is a rather 'heavy' going book and not always an easy read, probably due to the differing academic and practitioner backgrounds and perspectives that have been included. In addition to read all the chapters would be rather time consuming, and the presentation of research in some of the academic fields, does not necessarily reflect the much wider scope of research conducted or viewpoints held within them.
Overall however, this is a resonably good book for anyone with a keen interest in identity and branding. It has the characteristics of an academic book, with theoretical ideas, but with interesting ideas for practitioners.