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Organizational Name and Identity Published: Sunday, May 3, 1998 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

Every organization needs a clear sense of purpose that people inside and outside of it understand. People need a strong sense of belonging. Purpose and belonging are the two key ingredients of identity. Without purpose and belonging there is no true organization. Every organization is unique and also similar to others. Thus identity must spring from the organization`s own roots, its character, image and capability. The identity of an organization must be so clear that it becomes a sounding board against which products, services, behaviors and actions are measured. This means that identity cannot be a collection of phrases, but a visible, tangible and all-embracing attribute. Everything that an organization does must be an expression of its identity. Products and services a company makes, provides or sells must project its standards, norms and values. The physical conditions in which the organization makes things and trades, the communication material are all significant components of the identity mix.

A further key element, which is extremely significant, is how the organization behaves. This will have deep implications to its own staff and to everybody with whom it comes into contact, including customers suppliers and its host communities. The point is that consistency in attitude, action, style and name underlines the configuration of the organization`s identity. In some companies the management of identity is intuitive. It is a direct reflection of the power, position and interests of the current structure of leadership. The organization is what leaders want them to be. But in more complex, large-scale institutions, where innumerable subcultures conflict, compete and collaborate, the long-term purpose, values and identity must be managed with intelligence or they will be overwhelmed and disregarded in sectorial infighting. The organization will simply become an inert victim of the various factions that seek to control it.

A word of alert. When organizations of all kinds lose sight of their uniqueness, their real purpose and strength, they get deflected often through peer pressure into making critical mistakes. They make inappropriate decision, ill plans or fragile strategies, products and services. That is why identity management is a core job for any president or a senior board member, supported by an in-house team and where appropriate by outside knowledge oriented consultants.

Identity is expressed in the names, symbols, logos, colors and sessions which the organization uses to distinguish itself, its brands and its services. These factors encapsulate and make the life a collective sense of belonging and purpose. At another level they represent a consistent set of standards of quality and, therefore encourage degrees of consumer loyalty.

Organizational actions are indivisible: the how it behaves, how it treats people, what it makes and sells are part of a single whole. The everything within the organization has an effect on everything else, that everyone has and effect on everyone else. Organizations are becoming more closely integrated into society, and that society is increasingly becoming judgmental about the behavior and actions of organizations.

In times in which only those organizations providing highly competitive products will survive, and where mayor competing organizations around the world are becoming increasingly similar, name and identity can become a key elements in making a choice between one organization and its products an another. Therefore, investing time in nurturing identity constitute a wise move for long-term health and profitability of the organization.wly.

 


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