October 29, 2007 Tate Linden
I've been sent perhaps a dozen free books on branding and marketing in the year and change I've been blogging. I've never written about them - mostly because there's rarely anything about naming or verbal branding in them. This book doesn't have that disconnect... The Soul of the Corporation by Hamid Bouchikhi and John R. Kimberly is an impressive book. And it is almost entirely related to what I do for a living. I'd suggest that it's one of the more advanced books on the concept of corporate identity, and it is backed by a slew of research (and the Wharton School.) While I didn't read it cover to cover yet, I did read the chapters that discuss the role of identity in situations that matter to naming - such as mergers, acquisitions, the beginning of new brands, and such. All of 'em were spot on - or a least headed in the right direction. As an example - the book identifies the ingredients of Successful identity Change as:
Luck and Positive Signals While Stokefire's number one ingredient is missing (leadership involvement!) the list is one that is worth spending time to understand. It is clear that without any one of the five items a project will likely fail. They've at least provided a good starting point to work with. Other interesting tidbits:
An analysis of evolutionary vs. revolutionary change
The difference between organizational and brand identity
The downside(s) of branding (narcissism, id conflict, drift, & fragmentation)
How to handle mergers, spin-offs, joint ventures, and more.
Four leaders who've managed identity well, and four who haven't.
Transitioning from a single brand to a portfolio... If these topics don't get you motivated to read the book then chances are excellent you're not in the naming field. Or, as a former SecDef might say, "you don't know what you don't know." Perhaps most refreshing was the near total lack of talking-heads from major branding firms that typically populate books like these. We get to see things through the eyes of employees, stakeholders, and customers - not the guys that developed (and are defending) the brand. Who cares what we, the creators of the identity, think. If the people who live the brand don't say it then it ain't real. Bravo! Many thanks to Wharton School Publishing for the comp. I've dog-eared so many pages that it's beginning to look like there's been trouble at the printer (since most of the upper-outside corners appear to be missing.)