The vitality of corporate identity to an organization was also fostered by Ingretsen (1988), who highlighted the emphasis on creativity, innovation and implementation, as one of the Seven Drivers of Organizational Success. The creativity, innovation and implementation directs towards the corporate identity which consisted of logo and its application across various types of tangible items.
This was proven in the case of British Airways’ strategy in becoming a globally recognized brand by focusing on customers and being brand driven; as noted by Lee (1995, as cited in Driver, 1999). Commenting on the branding strategy of British Airways, Driver (1999) summated that emphasize was given to the corporate identity with creation of more than 50 world images that appeared on the touchpoints of the organization (baggage tags, signage, stationeries, ticket wallets and timetables).
Furthermore, Ingbretsen (1988) stated that the reality of organisation’s growth was supported by delivering products and services, in reference to their corporate identity, which lead towards the image perceived and finally to organisation’s reputation as wholesome. What is more, is that, a clear corporate identity is essential to an organisation to achieve a positive reputation. The similar scenario of British Airways’ brand building was applicable to AA, where the creations of its touchpoints (uniform, signage, aircraft design, tickets, and website) are in reference to its corporate identity. Figure 1.1 illustrates the AA’s logo which was used to create the corporate identity as well as to generate the corporate image.
Figure 1.1: Air Asia’s logo. (Source: www.brandsoftheworld.com)
Among others, the corporate identity of AA is also used to project the reality of the organization, which included: mission, vision and goals, whereby these realities must be understood by its passengers in order to achieve a concrete and positive reputation. In line with the projection of the organisation’s reality, the logo which was used to build the corporate identity; represented the customer’s experience, employees’ perception, communities’ feedback and
shareholders’ image that would form the corporate image in total; which was vital to the foundation of corporate reputation. As summarized by Argenti (2007),
“Companies with strong, positive reputations can attract and retain the best talent, as well as loyal customers and business partners, all of which contribute positively to growth and commercial success” (p.80). The importance of a positive reputation in an organisation goes a long way in further developments and advancements of an organisation. Proof to this, AA which was established back in 1993 with small number of aircrafts and limited locations had grown rapidly over the years with its increased fleet of aircrafts, various flight locations, tampering into new markets (United Kingdom, New Zealand and India) and has been allocated a low cost carrier terminal in Sepang, Malaysia.
‘Products or services’, ‘identity’ and ‘reputation’ are three elements that exist in every organisation which are interrelated and affect one another. The success of an organisation was determined by its reputation, which was reflected by the alignment of the organisation’s identity and image conceived within the constituencies (Argenti, 2007). Currently, communication – such as advertising, marketing, information and knowledge sharing as well as exchange is mediated through the rapid evolving internet and the densely connected computer network.
It comes as no surprise that the communication process of the airline industry is anchored upon the internet and the World Wide Web. In search of airline reputation management, Shochet (2009) highlighted a few reasons on the significance of online reputation to an airline to; (i) provide positive image to future customer (ii) attract potential investors, (iii) influence media research, and (iv) as a prevention/support of a major reputation damage of future crisis.
Taking the recent Qantas A380 crisis that occurred on 4th November 2010, its current CEO - Alan Joyce had demonstrated a tactile and masterful strategy on crisis management (Ritson, 2010). As portrayed by Heasley and O’Sullivan (2010), the Qantas A380 which took off from Singapore, suffered a severe engine explosion over Indonesian skies and was prompted to make an emergency landing back at the Singapore Changi Airport. Even though there were no casualties, according to Ritson (2010), this was an alarming call for Qantas which has had a safety record of flight without fatal accidents for the last six decades. Responding swiftly to the situation was, Joyce who made a public appearance through televised press conference (Fenner, 2010), who then announced they had landed the plan to inspect the engines on the cause of the mid-air explosion as part of their safety culture (Ritson, 2010). Joyce’s immediate action towards the issue had prevented the public and stakeholders from further negative speculations, which he followed suit of the infamous Johnsons & Johnson - Tylenol crisis.
In a follow up announcement, Joyce had pointed out the explosion was caused by the Rolls Royce engines, which safe guarded Qantas’ image of infallibility and reliability flight record (Ritson, 2010). Ironically, the engine-makers – Rolls Royce, London didn’t respond or attempt to comment in regards to their engine failure that had caused chaos within the aviation sector. The silence from Rolls Royce would not facilitate their credibility and accountability in the future which was crucial to their reputation management. Apart from that, Joyce who had been engaged with the media (TV and radio interviews), has been consistently communicating to concerned passengers on the current updates (Ritson, 2010). Paramount to this, in order for Qantas to recover from its current
situation, Joyce was one of the passengers who took the first A380 flight to London since its engine explosion; merely weeks after the crisis (Fenner, 2010).
This would not only return the brand to its pre-crisis level, but what is more, Qantas may be able to build its brand equity from its current crisis and increase its revenue.
On the contrary, without proper reputation management, the image/reputation of an organization can be severely damaged. Looking at Toyota Motor Corporation’s Crisis in September 2009; it was only a week after its recall of cars that the president at that time – Toyoda appeared in a press conference to make announcements (Fenner, 2010). This delay and absence in addressing the issue had greatly damaged Toyota with its sale taking a nose-dive. According to analyst Usui, Toyoda should have dealt with the issues from the beginning, and perhaps the damage could have been lessened.
Within the perspective of AA, the success of AA was resulted by the reputation that was projected by its passengers. The identity of AA would need to be aligned with the image that was perceived by its passengers. A good reputation was achieved when there was coherence between the identity and image of the organisation and vice-versa. A solid and positive reputation that was often related to the success of an organisation was accomplished only when the intended message by the organisation was communicated through its identity and ultimately shared and understood by its constituencies.
Corporate image of an organisation was associated with the feelings and assessments of consumers and constituencies’ of the organisation (Clow & Baack, 2007). Reputation and logos exist in a symbiotic relation; whereby reputation is the perception or image that is derived from the logo amongst its audiences or constituencies; and concisely represents the character and personality of the organisation or services. Hence, the AA’s logo becomes the essence of its reputation by communicating the personality and identity of the whole entity.
Corporate image was further described by Argenti and Forman (2007) as, “The relationship your company hones with employees, shareholders, and the local company will also directly affect how your company is perceived, and thus, the kind of image you’re generating” (p.81.). This concept was supported by Argenti (2007) that corporate image was the constituencies’ perception of the organisation which was based upon the corporate identity - such as name, logo, self-representation and corporate vision of the organisation (Argenti & Forman, 2007).
The corporate image of AA would give a general idea of the organisation and create an expectation from its passengers.
Nevertheless, the corporate image among its passengers may vary based on their needs, interests and social-economic backgrounds. Corporate identity played a crucial task in creating a good reputation as corporate image can be used as a benchmark by the organisation to measure their credibility within their constituencies; especially their consumers. By analyzing the perception among its passengers, AA would be able to make comparison between the corporate image and its own corporate vision, mission and organisational goals.
The corporate identity which was represented by a logo is designed creatively and yet precisely in order to convey the right message as intended by the organisation as well as to stand-out among other identities. Research and development of a logo was crucial in order to achieve the most successful logo that can be cultivated into a thriving corporate identity. Elements like the stroke, symbol marks (pictorial or abstract), font types and colours are selected carefully with much caution to enable the brand to convey the desired message. On the other hand, identity can be defined as individuality, uniqueness, characteristic or distinctiveness of a person, organisation, product or services (Landa, 2006; &
Wheeler, 2006). Since the prehistoric era, when humans began to create their own identity; symbols were made from basic shapes to express their pride, ownership or fierceness of themselves. The same notion is used by organisation currently in creating their brand identity; to symbolize their strength and differentiate themselves from the rest. According to Wheeler (2006), identity was the individuality that was expressed by individuals, organisation and communities.
For instance, the Nike logo (swoosh); was an abstract illustration of a wing that attained success as a symbol for a company that was selling running shoes.