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The fourth element of a company's international guidelines is the corporate identity part. It is highly influenced by the decisions which are made in the international business policy. If a company decides to operate differentially from one market to another a corporate identity isn't that important. This follows from the fact that every subsidiary would have its own identity and the kind of doing business would be not comparable to another country. In contrast, in a more standardized approach of doing business an international corporate identity formulation is essential for the whole company. Especially advertisement is highly influenced.
According to Melewar T. C. corporate identity is understood as "the set of meanings by which a company allows itself to be known and through which it allows people to describe, remember, and relate to it" and also "is about how an organization presents, positions and differentiates itself visually and verbally at corporate, business, and product levels". (Melewar, 2008: 9)
In other words the function of corporate identity is to create an outstanding and unique image of the company in order to differentiate it from other ones. This representation is important for the potential customer view on the company but also for the opinion of the company's own staff. Therefore, corporate identity shines through outwards but also inwards. Furthermore, it is a mirror of the culture and philosophy of an enterprise. Outwards, it is about the perception the public gets of an organization and of the goods and services offered. Inwards, corporate identity shall give the employee a feeling of being connected to the company and in the best case to be proud of working in such a corporation.
Creating an adequate profile and a stable reputation helps a corporation building a strong position in the market and to achieve competitive advantage. Corporate identity refers to values and norms of core strategic concerns that include everyone inside a company and external contacts. (Melewar, 2008: 68, 69)
Corporate identity manifests the organization's characteristics that distinguish it from its competitors. The most common approach to corporate identity includes the division of three sections: corporate behavior, communication and design.
The first one describes the attitude of a company to create internal values and norms. It also shows priorities and targets which are included in the company's statute. The second one characterizes the way of communication with external and internal stakeholders and provides them an appropriate amount of information about the company and its activities. Also the canalization of communication is an important issue. The last one represents the action that is connected with visibility of the organization, namely features of main logo and way of using it, the corporate colors and the required clothing for workers. But also the design of the buildings and business papers is connected with corporate design. (Kitchen and Schultz, 2001: 45)
Corporate behavior describes all kinds of conduct within the organization which influence management decisions and the work of the employees.
They need to match with the basic beliefs and the business mission of the enterprise. It sometimes contains also a visual representation of the organization to the public. (Hines and Bruce, 2007: 236) The image of the company can be created by stereotypes, country of origin and rumors (e.g. news reports, stories from friends).
Thus, it is important that a company's decisions are related to its identity. This may end up in creating a profitable image among stakeholders or in a negative way it might lead to losses for the company. Furthermore, the corporate branding strategy is built up through both, creation of an aspired external image and consistent internal decision-making. (Kitchen and Schultz, 2001: 45)
Beiersdorf is a company which builds its strength on the basis of customer trust and satisfaction. People believe in the quality and value of the products and services which Beiersdorf provides. Furthermore, the company is also successful because it does not only focus on achieving rapid economic growth but it prefers a sustainable development. It is manifested by taking care of the environment and improving the production process to protect the nature against negative influences, e.g. by reducing the level of production wastes.
Moreover, Beiersdorf creates safe and good conditions of work for the employees and respects their rights as individuals. This is a self-image which the company offers every staff member worldwide to be authentic. According to the Corporate Citizenship Strategy Beiersdorf organizes a lot of social actions which strategic core of activity is connected with culture, family and education, e.g. Share your knowledge Project, Seitenwechsel Initiative, Blue Bear NIVEA, Helping Hands for Kids in Slovenia. (Sustainability Beiersdorf, 2009a; Sustainability Beiersdorf, 2009b; Sustainability Beiersdorf, 2009c)
According to the results of Reader's Digest magazine's annual "Most Trusted Brands" survey NIVEA is the most trusted skin care brand in numerous countries. (Beiersdorf, 2010f: 8) In order to achieve such a positive image, managers of Beiersdorf had to work intensively on creating a trustful and honorable reflection of the company's principles.
Internal values and norms for NIVEA are common with the general issues of Beiersdorf.
NIVEA consequently seeks to achieve objectives entrusted to it by the company. Furthermore, the brand image is supported by such values as: trust, reliability, honesty, safety, intimacy and naturalness.
NIVEA engages itself in many social actions, e.g." Bezpiecznie z NIVEA i WOPR" which goal is to improve safety on Polish beaches. Moreover, the company provides its products to many charitable institutions. (SUPERBRANDS POLSKA, 2007: 1)
When we talk about communication within a company it is important to accentuate its value in corporate brand management at both external and internal levels. The policies of the company have to be transmitting to employees by using external communication channels. Hence, they collect important feedback from external stakeholders and provide valuable information to the organization. There exist few forms of internal communication, e.g. formal, informal, oral, written, verbal and non-verbal. The communication can be also divided on a relationship management communications that includes stakeholders who are not the company's customers and market communication that uses including corporate designs or corporate sponsoring to communicate to stakeholders. (Hines and Bruce, 2007: 236)
The duty of corporate communication is to filter a channel what is reported outwards in order to have one clear statement and not different ones which may lead to confusion by the stakeholders. This process of filtering is of high importance when it comes to problems with a product. For instance, a crème may have allergic effects on users. When the company is asked by journalists about this issue it isn't beneficial to have various statements from different employees of Beiersdorf because they won't tell you all the same. Therefore, the department of communication releases one declaration in accordance with the board of directors.
The success of Beiersdorf depends on that it reaches its stakeholders through a constant dialog. Moreover, the company's task is not only building the structure to communicate but also creating the rules and maintaining the control about the content of the communication. On Beiersdorf's website about its company responsibility one can find a lot of important information. Firstly, one learns how they meet their responsibilities from a section on The Global Reporting Initiative. In this part there are described seventy nine indicators which are observed in a company. Hence, they present the company's internal values and norms in a simple way for all kinds of stakeholders. (Sustainability Beiersdorf, 2009d)
Secondly, Beiersdorf provides current information about the company's condition. Thus, it creates opportunities to build a bond of trust between the company and the observers and investors. To provide enough amount of information about the capital market Beiersdorf holds half-yearly conferences for financial analysts and shares the reports on its website. Thus, they show how the situation is on the strategy and business developments. (Sustainability Beiersdorf, 2009e)
In addition, Beiersdorf gives access to a guideline of the Government Commission in which can be found principles of management and supervision of German corporations.
This Corporate Governance Code was created to facilitate the access for international and national investors, customers, workers and general public to this knowledge. Hence, it describes general standards for goods and services which are necessary to fulfill as the organization operates on the German market. Moreover, each year Beiersdorf publishes interim and annual reports which contain important information for shareholders. Therefore, it informs about financial and managerial aspects, includes auditors' report and a responsibility statement. (Sustainability Beiersdorf, 2009f)