Every single day of the year a big corporation for some strange and unexplainable reason goes down the drain…most often it’s the top person caught with hands in the cookie jar. The image gets shattered. What took decades to build now stands like a crumbled ruin in smoke and beyond repair. The same story is repeated again and again.

American lady, Martha Stewart is just a small fry in this jungle of deceptive maneuvers. ENRON, WORLDCOM, ADELPHIA, TYCO and PARMALATs of the dark corporate world with losses totaling some trillion dollars now all point to some type of a revival and return of true honesty in big business. The images of big corporations have to be changed, as it has now evolved from “big is bad” to “big is corrupt”. A half a century of brilliant corporate communications and good public affairs responsible for building the big corporate images are all about to be erased. New rules for new corporate image maintenance are a must. What was associated with only third-world’s uniformed dictatorships are about to become the new hallmark of the western commerce. Unfortunately only hands full of bad apples are shaking the entire trees.

Corporate image is like a house of cards, delicate and fragile, like a crystal palace, it can’t have stones thrown at it. Image is not a fort that you can attack again and again and hope that it will survive. Images rest in the sub-conscious minds of the customers and shareholders alike. This is a very sacred place, access able only through subtle messages and a solid track record, slowly building into images of respectability, confidence and trust about a particular corporation. One mistake and these images are shattered, like a glass never to be repaired again. For this reason, nasty scandals kill the corporate images once and for all. Patchwork and bandages only prolong the agony.

Big branding should take credit for making big icons, it’s the corporation itself that gets confused with all the new glitter and loses its focus. The true engine of our global commerce is still the small-medium enterprise, humming along to keep the economies going. True to value and integrity this sector deserves the credit for being earnest about it’s existence and for having to build it’s images in the dark shadows of collapsing giants.

While marketers are trying hard to build brand new name identities for the global e-commerce the customers are getting mixed signals about ethics in business. Sobriety of image structures with true name identities that clearly define the set goals are in play. While casual branding immersed in holistic treatments without focus only create more doubts in the minds of shareholders and customers.

There is a new and a very powerful under-current of e-commerce, packed with better due diligence and better ethics, ready to emerge with brand new icons of the future. The practice of corporate image and global branding should take notice and equally acknowledge that image is like a house of cards, it’s frailty that makes it so powerful, it’s clarity and pristine structure that appeals to masses and it’s vulnerability that makes it so valuable. Therefore, it must be built slowly, wisely, correctly and delicately, without any room for errors…after all, it’s a good thing.


Naseem Javed author Naming for Power, recognized as world authority on Business Name Identities and Global Cyber-Branding Issues also established ABC Namebank Internationala quarter century ago. www.abcnamebank.com