The Value of Identity

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What is your identity in the marketplace? Maybe you don’t have any. All you know is that you have a business and you are telling your story. Who cares about identity anyway?

If that is your answer, you are heading for trouble, for soon and very soon, if your identity  is not right, it will distort your story and this can ruin your business. This can happen as the market begins to ask questions such as: “We want to know who you are, what you represent, what you stand for; how you operate and how genuine are you?”

“We are asking these questions because we no longer want to be abused or ripped off by so many scams, fraud and fake products and services that litter the marketplace”

The question again is: “What is your identity?” You have to answer this because your identity amplifies your storytelling. It tells your story, anywhere, anytime, even when you are not speaking, or writing. Your identity is your storyboard. If your professional identity is not right, your story will not be right. If that happens, your market perception will suffer, or the market will tell a different story about you and your business. Take this example.

The late Fela Anikulapo Kuti of Nigeria was one of the greatest musicians to come from the African continent. His Afro Beat brand of music is unique and original. He used the socio-economic problems of his time to communicate in many of his hit songs in understandable pidgin English which the Nigerian masses understood and appreciated.

But there was an identity problem. Many Nigerians could not reconcile his lifestyle with his revolutionary music. He was very popular, but his identity- dressing, et al- did not add much value to his music. He had a message for fellow Nigerians, but he was misunderstood in many circles, especially the Nigerian military. The military command had brushes with the musician. There is value in identity.

Another question is how can you create and project a winning identity that can sustain you in business, win more customers, and enlarge your market share. First, the fundamentals. If a policeman asks you to “identify yourself”, you will mention your name, address, occupation or profession, what you do or where you work, and your job title. Combine these with the name of your business, ethics, products, goodwill, how you operate, lifestyle, relationships and your promotional power; you will weave your basket of identity. They all aggregate to tell your story; to project your image and reputation.

But the impact of your identity depends largely on how you communicate and how your customers and other stakeholders perceive you.

Getting your professional and corporate identity right is sound business sense. And it takes wisdom, vision, focus and storytelling to do it well. These are the demands of globalization. There is value in identity.

Any serious minded professional or corporate body that wants to soar in the new economy must take a hard look at her identity and make adjustments when necessary. You should do that often because the latest trend in global business is a shift from tangible to intangible assets. Such intangibles include identity, values, goodwill, ethics, social responsibility and environmental friendliness. These are the indices that now rule the marketplace and not just your market capitalization or quantum of reserves you have in your bank account. There is value in identity.

Global consumer companies are reinventing themselves using storytelling, with emphasis on their intangibles. Take this lesson from Accenture, the global consulting firm. Anderson Consulting, as it was then known, faced its biggest challenge of creating a winning identity. It came out with the name saying: “It is a powerful expression of our aspirations. It is an accent placed firmly on the future. Our name announces who we are and what we hope to be…Behind our name and identity is Accenture’s vision and the promise of our brand. The Accenture name is a strong youthful and dynamic expression of our vision, and our role in the future marketplace.”

There is value in identity. We shall conclude our synthesis of information on ‘identity’ in the next edition of the Great Storytelling Network.


Eric Okeke is a storyteller, editor, business writer, motivational speaker and author of the best selling book: I Want a Husband. He is one of Nigeria’s most experienced financial journalists. He has published several articles in local and foreign publications and in websites such as http://www.ezinearticles.com, www.ezinearticles.com and www.writingcareer.com. He is currently running Infomedia Company, a media consulting and information marketing company. Visit his blog at http://sallywantsahusband.blogspot.com

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