OPINION

The Worldwide Corporate Metamorphosis

The historians will have to be very kind to this global financial meltdown and should reward it for a most needed rude awakening call, which is forcing a dramatic change of traditional business models. Right now, all over the world, this crisis is teaching CEOs new things — first, that it’s time to face the music and change the tune, and secondly, an appreciation for finer details and anger management.

Why our world suddenly became a massive junkyard, crowded with junky ideas on junky promises with junky finances, is now where brand-new corporate philosophies and structures will harshly collide with the wide range of old business models. Survivors still engaged in the market need to be congratulated for their stamina, as even more chasms have to be jumped. The landscape clearly points to an eventual metamorphosis, where businesses will either totally collapse or fully transform into new butterflies.

Economic Meltdown

Currently, for every great successful business there are easily a million businesses that are uncontrollably rolling down the hill, and despite all the resistance, their organizational units keep falling and crumbling. Simplifying in general terms, the most identifiable business problem today is the lack of funds, which are often due to lack of sales, which at times — despite great product lines — are due to lack of the right image and branding, which is often blamed to some disconnected brand name identity or image positioning that never grabs the attention, or the cyber-branding that never catches online customers. This chain reaction seriously pulls down the entire corporate entity, often into darkness, and this constant deprivation of visibility keeps the business gasping for more oxygen. Of course, there are many other complex factors also.

The auto industry has damaged hundreds of brands year after year, as their image and name identities were never allowed to mature enough, and most ended up in some quick alpha-numeric soup and eventually ended up being bundled under the umbrella identity of the manufacturer — which in most cases only projects the image of an old, dying dinosaur. Banks all over the world simply got short-changed on their image by having their names abbreviated to the point that there was no differentiation; they too kept pushing the similar products and services, and most are now in one giant bowl of hot alphabet soup.

Time for Change

Of the top 50 business sectors, from agriculture to construction or from technology to consumer goods, the highly skyrocketed cost to stay under the spotlight will now have to be turned off. Excessive waste and useless fame both will be replaced by truly streamlined operations — and what’s 50 percent or 90 percent trimming of wasted operations if it puts through a sophisticated metamorphosis?

But first, an open discussion about pushing the dying old business models is needed before it has to be completely re-invented. So long as the boardroom-fear-factor inhibits the critical questions, and so long as corporate expansion strategy simply remains unaligned to its external image — just not fit enough to catch the right fish — the business stays gasping in the dark. Corporations with great products and services can easily check why 90 percent of the targeted customer base are not lined up outside their doors. Panic will surely make the cash run out.

For those leaders with any brilliant business ideas and great selling propositions, their efforts will be completely useless unless they are properly branded in the right language, creating the maximum value for their targeted customer base. Those efforts will be equally wasted if their brand name identity ends up sending the wrong signals.

Opportunity and Peril

The current times are filled with very powerful, hidden opportunities visible only to open-minded thought leaders with foresight. The opening of such debates and reforms will bring teams together and encourage the next quantum leap.

Despite all the gloom, the world is still spending billions all over the place, and this meltdown has simply moved the bars up a giant notch higher, where more advanced strategies are the minimum new prerequisites. Today, being reliant upon panic cutbacks or sudden surges is not the answer. Re-conversions, re-emersions and re-evaluation leading to a total corporate metamorphosis is at play, and it’s time to plan out of the old cocoon and into a new butterfly.


Naseem Javed is recognized as a world authority on corporate image and global cyber-branding. Author of Naming for Power, he introduced the Laws of Corporate Naming in the 1980s and also foundedABC Namebank, a consultancy established in New York and Toronto a quarter century ago. He can be reached atnj@njabc.com.


1 Comment

  • You make some good points, but for most of us out here in the street economy, demand destruction has been, and will be the issue for some time. The perils of a consumer driven economy have come home to roost. In the U.S. millions of consumers don’t really "need" anything, but they love to shop. They have basements, attics and public storage lockers full of stuff & now they are too worried, or too unemployed to continue shopping. Most of of us are not GM. We are lean, mean, and on a shoestring. We will either survive with our wits, or we will die and come back another day. In our world the CEO wears about 10 different hats.

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