Corporate branding is at the core of what PR is about: strategic vision, organisational culture and stakeholder management. Corporate branding forms one of the cornerstones of any organisation’s identity and activity.
It informs about who you are, what you stand for (or against), where you want to be and what you are doing to achieve this. But it is not all about you, or that would be too easy. It is also about what your stakeholders think of you and how they perceive you.
As a communicator, you want to avoid a situation whereby there is a gap between who you are, who you want to be, and how you are perceived by others.
Corporate branding is a dynamic interaction between an organisation and its stakeholders. Thus, it is constantly evolving. Because reputation is not something you can fully have control over, it is crucial to keep this relationship at the core of any PR activities.
So, how do you evaluate and monitor your corporate branding?
Let’s think about how we create corporate branding*:
1. Situational analysis is at the core of corporate branding
A thorough situational analysis should help define your identity and highlight how core stakeholders see you (e.g. SWOT, PESTLE analysis). This research could highlight some gaps, so analysis means are decisive.
2. Corporate branding is the result of your strategic decisions
Your decisions should reflect the mission and vision of your organisation. Where do you want to be? What are your plans to achieve your goals? How are you going to implement them? Strategic decisions are also actions that differentiate you from others. Does your brand have a story? What makes you unique? Any defining visual or verbal traits?
3. Corporate branding reflects how you implement your plans
The execution of your plans also contribute to your corporate branding.
4. Finally, corporate branding is the results of what you do
How far are you from your goals? How have you performed up until now? What have you’re your successes and your challenges? Your achievements are important, as well as how people see them. It influences your reputation. How do others see you? What is your reputation like as a result of those achievements?
Those four indicators provide a suitable starting point for corporate branding analysis.
Forbes and Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies” rankings are worth considering because they provide interesting criteria. The rankings determine the best-regarded companies based on their investment value, the quality of management, their products to social responsibility and their ability to attract talent. Other rankings (e.g. Financial Times) also review successful management change, business leadership and robust and human corporate culture.
The Reputation Institute (RI) offers another insightful barometer for corporate branding evaluation. In their Global RepTrak ® 100 report, they use 3 reputation pillars: the cognitive consideration, the emotional connection and the reputation outcome
Corporate branding is a complex blend of voices that characterise your organisation. In a society obsessed with branding (whether it is corporate or personal branding), image and perceptions matter. Complexity cannot be ignored.
Vision, culture and image are the 3 golden pillars that management teams should keep in mind. Why? Because they should shape the small and big decisions of the company.
It is often the case that brands and businesses grow so significantly so quickly that they want to rethink their identity and strengthen their image.
Maybe it’s time to wonder: who are we, really?
* Exploring Public Relations, Third edition, by Tench R. and Yeomans L. (2014)