Identifying Symptoms of Identity Malaise

By Chajet, Clive | Management Review, September 1988 | Go to article overview

Identifying Symptoms of Identity Malaise


Chajet, Clive, Management Review


IDENTIFYING SYMPTOMS OF IDENTITY MALAISE

In this age of rapid change and business restructuring, corporations have become increasingly vulnerable to "perception gaps." This malady stems from a company's inability to persuade its critical audiences that it is managing change, rather than letting change manage it. Correct identity practices -- the ways a company presents itself to the world -- enable management to shape a company's image and reduce the harmful gap between reality and public perception.

Often, managers associate corporate identity with name changes or radical alterations in visual corporate design. In fact, corporate identity is the most visible element of corporate strategy, and may include visual systems, logotype, nomenclature, and communications systems that coordinate the identity with strategic planning. Not only is the importance of identity misunderstood, it has been misused. Some have treated corporate identity as a vanity issue, tying it to personal esteem by m aking the name sound important. This limited view can cause a company's identity to stagnate. Identity, properly conceived and managed, should enhance a corporation's image, not just the prestige of its senior managers or board of directors.

Inaccurate perceptions can have a negative impact on a company's sales and earnings, its employee morale, its ability to attract talented people and expansion capital, and its performance on Wall Street. These seemingly unrelated problems may be symptoms of an identity problem and perception gaps. For example, the personnel department complains that the wrong people are applying for positions at the firm. Financial managers complain that the wrong analysts are following the company's securities. Senior management observes that sales are slow, while the industry is booming. These problems may mean that the company is projecting the wrong image to its crucial audiences.

Consider what can happen when a company's strong local or regional image detracts from its new strength in national or international markets. Executives at the company once known as Sohio were faced with this problem.

NEW NAME, WIDER APPEAL

Sohio's identity was fused with the regional identity of its gasoline and service stations, creating the false perception that it was strictly a company selling gasoline in Ohio. In truth, Sohio was the 24th-largest corporation in the United States, with the nation's largest domestic oil reserves, among other assets.

The compabny resurrected its former legal name--The Standard Oil Company--from the years before the breakup of the old Standard Oil Trust. The adoption of the name was feasible because all the other companies that once comprised the Trust had abandoned the use of this corporate designation. For example, Standard Oil company of New Jersey changed its name to Exxon, and Standard Oil Company of California became Chevron. The Sohio name, however, was retained and used solely as the retail brand name for its petroleum products sold within the Ohio market.

By becoming The Standard Oil Company, the firm achieved a nearly instantaneous perception of international stature and historic prestige--an image more reflective of the company.

The limitations of a regional identification are clear. Perhaps more frustrating is the discovery that the wrong people are sending out the wrong messages to audiences important to your corporate health. Unless the right security analysts follow a company, for example, it risks being misrepresented to potential investors. Executives at United Aircraft were confronted with this problem.

Unite Aircraft had evolved into a true conglomerate, marketing well-known products, including Carrier air conditioners, Otis elevators, Norden defense systems, and Sikorsky helicopters, worldwide. However, the parent company was followed mainly by a narrow segment of Wall Street security analysts, who inaccurately depicted the company by evaluating it solely on the basis of the volatility of defense industries. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Identifying Symptoms of Identity Malaise
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.