The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management™
This article introduces a new approach to corporate identity scholarship and practice entitled "The ACID Test of Corporate Identity Management."™ The researchers undertook empirical research within a major corporate identity consultancy with the objective of evaluating and contrasting the techniques used by the consultancy with the latest developments in corporate identity scholarship. An analysis of the documentary material produced by the UK's top 20 corporate identity consultancies and of the conceptual models of corporate image/corporate identity produced by academics was undertaken. A qualitative research design was adopted, based on in-depth interviews, desk research and content analysis. The research revealed that most corporate identity projects adopted a "vision driven approach." In other words corporate identity strategies were being built around the corporate vision as articulated by an organisation's chief executive and/or board of management. Furthermore, visual identification was used as the primary vehicle to effect a change in the organisation's identity. The analysis of the documentary material of twenty corporate identity consultancies revealed that this vision driven approach was common across the industry. This finding is at variance with the latest developments in corporate identity research and scholarship which acknowledges that a variety of identity strategies are required in order to meet the various identity problems faced by organisations. It became clear that there was scope for a method which could help to (a) identify weaknesses with an organisation's identity strategy and management and (b) prioritise the type of identity change required in light of the current identity. The researchers found that the corporate identity interface concept introduced by Abratt (1989) and, which has been further developed by Stuart (1994) and Balmer (1998) could be used as the basis for a new approach to corporate identity consultancy, management and scholarship and this resulted in the creation of "The Acid Test of Corporate Identity Management". This new model affords one means by which senior managers, consultants and scholars might avoid some of the pitfalls which they can face when designing corporate identity change strategies. The article ends by discussing the implications of the ACID Test for corporate identity research, management and consultancy.