Book: The Soul of the Corporation: How to manage the identity of your company

Authors: Hamid Bouchikhi and John R. Kimberly

Cost: $29.99

The Soul of the Corporation: How to manage the identity of your company by Hamid Bouchikhi and John Kimberly may seem like a book that would deal with the ethereal and run short on hard facts and ideas. Surprisingly, the book was far more reality-based than might be expected.

One reality is that all businesses (and industries) have an identity — or even multiple identities — and that the identity factor is more important than many think. The employees may see the company with one identity, while the public would label it something else. Then there’s the identity that the folks running the company have in mind, and all could be completely different. This can all lead to some tremendous mismatches.

Bouchikhi and Kimberly examine how an organization’s identity comes into play in the global marketplace, as well as how that can be a strength or weakness. As one example, the authors point to Phillip Morris, whose identity was so tied to tobacco that it increasingly became a detriment. The board felt that changing the name to Altria could help remove that association in the public’s mind. Yet, the company remained heavily tied to tobacco. So, its identity change failed.

Of course, there’s much more to identity than the company’s name, and the authors explore all facets of corporate identity. They use a wide range of examples to illustrate fact-based practices. The examples are global in nature, so the concepts span cultures and geography, which is becoming increasingly important to all businesses.