The purpose of this paper is to consider the nature and ongoing incidence of what is termed “corporate dissonance”, making explicit reference to developments relating to corporate communications since the publication of Company Image and Reality in 1984 and the founding of the International Corporate Identity Group in 1994.
Insights and reflections derived from consultancy experience, and from observations made by past and present captains of industry along with leading exponents of corporate marketing and from the literature, form the approach adopted in the paper.
The paper finds that, although organisations and writers have embraced the language relating to corporate marketing and to corporate‐level marketing concepts such as corporate identity, corporate branding, corporate communications and corporate reputation, corporate performance has not matched the promise of the new corporate language: this phenomenon term is called: “corporate dissonance”. In terms of corporate communications 21 shifts have been identified occurring over 25 years.
The paper presents a salutary reminder that the imperative is to calibrate rhetoric with behaviour and that the basis of corporate and corporate brand reputations is derived from what institutions have done and not what they would ideally do (what has been termed the “promise/performance gap”).
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