Monday, December 7, 2015

The Company's Image - Worth Millions of Dollars

Years ago, when I was a young manager at Merrill Lynch, I created my own stationary that we used for proposals and projects.   It had two black fine lines to create a border for the page and the Merrill Lynch Bull down at the bottom right hand corner.  I used that stationary for about a year, until one day I got a call from the Merrill Lynch Bull Police at corporate headquarters in New York City.  I had no idea who was calling me; but the woman spoke with great authority.  She told me that it had come to their attention that I was using the Merrill Lynch Bull in an unauthorized way.  At first I played dumb admitting to nothing; but then she said they had seen the stationary I was using.   And,  she went on to say that I must cease and desist, or that I would be terminated. 

Wow.  The woman went on to explain that the Merrill Lynch Bull was an important part of the company's image and that it could only be used in authorized ways when tied to the company logo.  I learned a great lesson from that encounter and that is never mess with the company's logo, or image because in some cases they can be worth millions of dollars in investment, over a period of time, creating the company's persona.

Very large companies have big marketing departments and even use outside Consultant's to create their image.  But in small or medium sized companies, the CEO of the company needs to very involved in creating the image of the company and or in approving any dramatic changes to that image.  Image is not built in a day.  It is created over a long period of time with sizeable investment in all sorts of media.  Image is designed to leave a lasting positive impression in the marketplace.  

There may be instances when the image of a company becomes negative because of some occurrence; scandal, bankruptcy, product failure etc.  When that happens, it may be time to reinvent the company's image to signify the new and improved version.  However, when such things have not occurred, company's should tread very lightly on tampering with a company's image built over years.  A fresh look in a digital age is fine; but the substance of a company's image should only be built on an existing foundation that has worked for years.   

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