The term “identity” is an abstract concept. Yet, it is incredibly important in our personal, social, as well as political life. In fact, how we live is very much determined by our identity and vice versa.
Is your name your identity? Perhaps, perhaps not. When we think of names, they not only draw some persons in our mind, but also the personalities of each name. This means that identity goes beyond a name or title. It tells meaningful things.
Take a friend’s name. By the time you take his/her name, you get a clear image of him/her. What the person does, what describes the person -- careless, good, among many other adjectives. And by now, maybe you are not fully aware of this fact, but you can see his/her core and why he/she is different from other friends.
Now name a company of your liking from our country. I bet this time you didn’t get the adjectives that easily. You had to think a bit. Maybe you can see some negative aspects from the news you once read about that company.
I hope you didn’t think of any government firm -- that would be depressing. Maybe it is still a blur. You just don’t get a clear image of the company you like. It’s a black-box.
This is identity crisis. When a customer can’t identify a firm, hardly one can trust that firm. Albeit, not all, but few firms seek to be trusted by customers.
I tried too. And almost every time, I failed to find a clear identity even for the most renowned corporations of the nation.
Organisational identity is defined by how a corporation is perceived by its internal as well as external stake-holders. It also reflects in what the corporation does as its primary activities and finally, how it does those activities.
Now, why should a firm care about organisational identity? In fact, it shouldn’t. Of course, not in our market. What is in the name when you can just sell?
Corporations could play an enormous role in creating a positive and powerful identity of a nation
But I can tell that things are getting more complex and competitive every day. Sales are not that easy, and are becoming more and more reliant on trust and relationship. And can we trust anyone without an identity?
Tomorrow’s sales will be largely captured by the firms with clear and strong organisational identity. Days of monopoly will not prevail, and political power will not help much as well. So, why not just create an identity?
It can be done by simply being open, transparent, and honest.
What about a fake identity, one may ask. Well, how long does a fake identity last? Not for too long. And one should work to build legacies not temporary money-making machines.
Communication is key
Create a true identity of your organisation. Tell your customers what you really do, how you do it, and why you are doing it. Don’t be shy telling them that you cherish profit. After all, profit is the motivating force of any economy. One cannot ignore the force.
But please do give a reason as to why you think you deserve the profit. Trust me, customers just need one good reason to buy from you even at a higher price.
A firm can have multiple identities when it is in the business of selling different commodities. But this doesn’t go without a caveat: The core or the essence must remain the same.
Coca Cola has more than 100 brands indicating more than 100 different identities. Still, when we talk about Coca Cola, we know what it stands for. Core should be central, distinguishable, and enduring.
An economy is largely identified by its corporations. The same could be said for a nation. Along with cultural and political issues, corporations also could play an enormous role in creating a positive and powerful identity of a nation. Behind the rise of all the major economies, there has been at least one corporation.
Brand names and corporate giants
The rise of corporate America wouldn’t have been possible without the rise of some of the finest and most revered organisations such as Ford, General Electric, Coca Cola, IBM, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon.
Similarly, for Japan there is Toyota, for South Korea there is Samsung, for Germany there are Mercedes (Daimler) and BMW, for the Netherlands there is Shell, for China there is Alibaba, for India there is Tata.
So, which corporation name represents us, Bangladesh?
We had a great opportunity to create a noble identity based on our RMG industry. We could have branded this whole industry and could have taken our export revenue to a different level. But we lost the opportunity because of our negligence and short-sighted policies.
What’s the next step?
We also can’t blame the government for every failure. The private sector has its own opportunities and responsibilities. It would be a shame if our corporate managers fail to capitalise on the hard work of RMG workers to create a respectable organisational identity and make sure that it is recognised from the furthest corner of this world.
A failure of our organisations to create proper identities will bear the risk of our economy to remain unidentified in the world stage.
I hope soon we will get at least one corporation through which global citizens can positively identify our beloved nation.
SM Musa is doing research on Strategy & Innovation. He writes from the Netherlands and can be reached at [email protected]