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How to identify the Five Corporate Masks

How to identify the Five Corporate Masks

By Naseem Javed, ABC Namebank

Naseem Javed, founder of ABC Namebank, is recognised as a world authority on image positioning and global naming complexities. He is currently helping corporations on ICANN’s new gTLD cyber-platforms and lecturing about new nomenclature frontiers and global cyber-branding.

 Every corporation has a face, as imagery, shine and style is inter-layered into a skin appearing as a mask with uplift captured by its distinct name identity and poised to reach the upper stratosphere of stardom. Whether you like it or not, at this very moment, your corporate mask is out there on the block, fully exposed and it’s being judged by the global markets. Following are the five common masks and now the question is not which is the best but rather why? Take a deep breath, be honest but first look in the mirror.
The Hippie Mask

When an image is often a spinning burst of soft and bright colors like a freeze frame sliced from a kaleidoscope, where it’s always the right time to ride a brightly green microbus to a watch the whales. This type of mask is all around us from consumer-packaged goods to all other sectors. Once exclusive to soft drinks or soap, this touchy-feely has now been adopted by heavy industrial giants from mega petrochemicals to global mining companies to fit eco friendly trends.

Identifier: generic and forgetful names wrapped in logo themes.
Evaluation: appears easy and fun to play.  
Caution: how truly solid are their name identities and trademarks?
The Mortician Mask

This kind of mask is full of dull, dark and stale colors often fading to black. Dark suits are a must. Artificial smiles, firm hand shakes and powerful scents. Some distant sound of an organ piped throughout the organisation, where hypnotised posturing is considered fashionable. This mortician mask if named after the founders or some great landmark, city or country gets rigidly stuck as limited in its reach in an ever expanding global market.

Identifier: long and descriptor names often initialised just to appear modern.
Evaluation: despite all branding efforts the old perception will simply won’t go away.
Caution: the lingering and dying image often kills innovation or hurts morale.

The Ivy-League Mask

Here distinct element of intellectual snobbery seems a prerequisite. Sometimes it really exists but most of the time it is just a show. In both cases, the image is driven with an elitist language and style. Dark green, dark burgundy and dark blue are the most sought after colours. The Internet has made a big impact in this style of corporate communications as thanks to a flashy website, a mediocre experience can be made to appear as very exclusive and world class expertise.

Identifier: historical names and symbols with legendary quotes and references.
Evaluation: how to balance the image with delivery of quality and promise.
Caution: the increased dilution of classy ideas with mixed skills under flashier websites.
The Cybernaut Mask

Here image, name and branding things are mouse driven. Ingenuity and stupidity are both displayed in a simultaneous interaction. Great ideas, packaged as silly brands and named in the most ridiculous fashion are the standard. It works but extremely rarely as the subtly and cuteness of this style will kill cashflow before the marketplace deciphers what it is. As technology changes, so do the names. Of the millions of technology companies all over the world less than 1% has achieved some stardom and despite great ideas, most brilliant techies and their smart venture capitalists are mostly chasing each other in masquerade balls.

Identifier: the most inappropriate, forgettable and technology dependant names.
Evaluation: names and messages are changed and modified every season.
Caution: sudden changes take away customer’s connectivity with the business thus sucking the cash flow and spinning the business in a downward spiral.
The Dinosaur Mask

The glory of the past combined with dynamic mergers and acquisitions create a disconnected train of iconic engines each pulling in a different direction. Unexplainable colour schemes and the squarely placed massive HQ complex speak loud and clear of the glories of the past. The corporate names are several feet long. Some get telescoped or initialised to some weird and strange combinations, acronyms and initials. Hence the awkward names with confusing messages.

Identifier: when several names of businesses are compressed and twisted together.
Evaluation: long names always describe an older process so why show off facial scars?
Caution: any sudden change for a new mask must be deeply intelligent processes

You can bring in new knowledge in your organisation on how to achieve the right makeover, but please do not confuse this with the traditional logo-slogan dependant rebranding processes.

Image makeovers, in a post meltdown adjustment are critical, but first thing you need is a real mirror.

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