Branding, Reputation and Identity
Anticipating Future Challenges for Businesses in a Dynamic Polarising Environment, Special issue of Futures; Deadline 31 Jan 2021
POSTING TYPE: Calls: Journals
Author: Pantea Foroudi
Special Issue: Futures
Call for Papers: Anticipating Future Challenges for Businesses in a Dynamic Polarising Environment: Branding, Reputation and Identity
Recent changes in the environment have thrown many plans for branding, reputation and identity into confusion. The guest editors observe that the corporate environment is becoming more dynamic and polarized. Increasing public awareness and pressure means that corporations and other organizations need to consider their roles as socially responsible members of society. There are substantial implications for the future management of businesses and their identities as many countries are experiencing major political changes at faster rates than in the past, in ways not fully anticipated by many businesses. Marketers of the future face unprecedented paradoxes in trying to direct offers and communications to be in sympathy with the current social climate. On one hand, marketers must be increasingly sensitive to diversity issues such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), minority groups, refugee rights and so on. On the other hand, the turbulent political environment is becoming more polarised as disruptive political events such as unexpected election results, coups, referenda results and charges of turning a blind eye to corruption impact on marketing strategies. Political changes include, for example, the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA, and the Turkish constitutional referendum that has given sweeping powers to President Erdogan. These changes have been followed by, for example, a (partial at the time of writing) travel ban into USA on travellers from various mainly Muslim countries; the attempted revocation of the law that protected young illegal immigrants in the US from deportation and provided temporary permits for work and study; and the banning of the annual gay pride march in Istanbul, Turkey. And even in the UK, then Prime Minister Theresa May sought (and partially obtained) Turkish-style so-called ‘Henry VIII’ powers to allow the Government to change laws originally emanating from the European Union without further parliamentary scrutiny. Will marketers of the future have to identify products and services with one polar extreme or another? Or try to straddle the fence, thus risking losing communication power in a world where strength and clarity of will and purpose will be paramount to a strong identity?
So, in this dynamic environment, will organisations be able to maintain power? How will they accommodate (or resist) environmental change, particularly the sudden, unexpected or polarising changes such as in the examples above? On one hand, the marketing environment is progressing towards openness, empowerment and liberation, whilst at the same time, movements seem to be in the direction of conservatism and traditionalism. All these changes can affect not only countries’ but also organizations’ identity and associations positively or negatively. How should marketers take these conflicting macro factors into account? Tackling such issues may require a significantly radical departure from business as usual. For instance, how will the complex issues of polarising identity evolve in the corporate world of the future? Can we envisage a future corporate world that actually takes sustainable development seriously, with degrowth rather than growth, with planet put before customers, with equality and cooperation put before competitive advantage? And how would that change the framing of the practice, values and meaning that make business (and its identity) what it actually is?
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