Your cor­po­rate im­age is your CV; tak­ing time and re­sources to cre­ate one works in more ways than one

Nairobi Law Monthly - - Society - PAUL OTIENO ONYANGO

“If your busi­ness is not a brand, it is a com­mod­ity” – Don­ald Trump ne day I went to pay a visit to a friend who is busi­ness man. As I en­tered the of­fice I was at­tracted by the big white wall in front of me and im­me­di­ately I thought, “why waste all this space?” When I reached the of­fice of my friend, I asked him why he was not mak­ing use of the white wall at the en­trance through pro­fes­sional cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tion and imag­ing.

My friend then told me: “My com­pany or I do not need any ad­vice, or in­vest­ment, in the cor­po­rate im­age, for the is­sue has been taken care of by the com­pany’s logo and the var­i­ous cat­a­logues we dis­trib­ute.” As one who loves any­thing to do with or­gan­i­sa­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion, I im­me­di­ately re­alised what ails most com­pa­nies in the world of to­day; the per­pet­ual con­fu­sion and the con­cep­tual re­duc­tion­ism, in the sense that cor­po­rate im­age is only about a logo or brand of a prod­uct that is graph­i­cally well de­signed and ap­peals to the sight. We for­get that cor­po­rate imag­ing goes be­yond the graphic im­age with­out ex­clud­ing it.

The syn­drome of Goliath has made many com­pa­nies, in­sti­tu­tions and or­gan­i­sa­tions to take the path of self-de­struc­tion.

OThe ba­sis of the ar­gu­ment by such or­gan­i­sa­tions is that it is a waste of money and time, or that the prod­uct or the com­pany is al­ready in the mar­ket, or the in­sti­tu­tion is a pub­lic one, hence does need cor­po­rate imag­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Such com­pa­nies or or­gan­i­sa­tions for­get that cor­po­rate im­age is an in­te­gral fac­tor (in­tan­gi­ble el­e­ment) that is ir­re­place­able, in­sep­a­ra­ble and ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary, for it is one of the con­sti­tu­tive el­e­ments of any or­gan­i­sa­tion. The cor­po­rate im­age in­cludes the graphic iden­tity (logo), phys­i­cal and man­age­ment phi­los­o­phy (mis­sion, vi­sion, and val­ues), hu­man cap­i­tal (com­pany’s stake­hold­ers), mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gies (rep­u­ta­tion, me­dia etc.) among oth­ers. The fact of the mat­ter is that if a com­pany or or­gan­i­sa­tion does not project the cor­rect im­age, it will never grow nor pro­duce to its ca­pac­ity. In­evitably, it dis­ap­pears sooner rather than later.

One needs to have a look at most or­ga­ni­za­tions’ so­cial me­dia pro­files, web­sites, ad­verts etc., to dis­cover the vi­sion a com­pany places on its cor­po­rate im­age. Many or­gan­i­sa­tions dream of play­ing in the big boys’ club of the likes of Coca-cola, P&G, Gen­eral Mo­tors, Sa­fari­com, Hil­ton Ho­tels, Equity Bank and oth­ers, with­out go­ing through the nec­es­sary steps. Th­ese or­gan­i­sa­tions never reached their level of busi­ness “mo­nop­oly” in a flash. They had to in­vest a lot of re­sources and time on the cor­po­rate im­age. In­deed, many of them went through dif­fi­culty due to wrong de­ci­sions made, have seen their sales drop and oth­ers have even faced rep­u­ta­tional prob­lems.

One may rightly ask, how come they are still in the mar­ket and lead­ing in mar­ket shares and sales? The an­swer lies in their cor­po­rate imag­ing, in that they had a sound and cor­rect cor­po­rate im­age, by en­sur­ing that their rep­u­ta­tion re­mained in­tact. This way they con­veyed to their mar­ket tar­get and gen­eral pub­lic trust and con­fi­dence, as­sur­ing them that the prod­uct or ser­vice they were buy­ing or re­ceiv­ing is of good qual­ity, guar­an­teed and sup­ported by a se­ri­ous or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Just to il­lus­trate, al­low me to cite the case of KQ. At some point, Kenya Air­ways man­aged well their cor­po­rate im­age to the ex­tent that KQ be­came a sym­bol of ex­cel­lence, pro­fes­sion­al­ism and sus­tain­able com­pany when it comes to air travel. Does any­one re­mem­ber the ‘Pride of Africa’ ad­verts? How­ever, the air­line has not re­cov­ered from the bad rep­u­ta­tion it has gained lately due to fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment, and this has cost it dearly and will do so for some time. Cur­rently when one talks of KQ, the im­me­di­ate ad­jec­tives that come to mind are cor­rup­tion, or­gan­isa-

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