Monday, May 26, 2014

Role Ambiguity of the Organization, and the Complexity in Explaining Brands

There are so many brands I have discussed over the years, many with a good explanation of why a certain brand is important to discuss. I have ventured off into the world of public administration, and the concept of brands takes on a different perspective. Institutionalism and cultural norms are the proper translation for the brand in the public context. 

I am reading a good series of papers on Public Goods, and it brings up a very interesting point, or theme, throughout the book. The distinction from public and private goods are explained by the state or nature of two primary factors - rivalry and exclusivity. In other words, public goods are considered non-rivalrous and non-exclusive. Translation, the consumption of the good does not diminish others ability to consume the good, and the good is readily available to all applicable parties. In oversimplified terms, clean air can be considered a public good. A more tangible item with costs would be public parks. However, the authors bring up a very important point about the gray area for all goods and services, where the base nature may contain public and private characteristics. 

When we look at organizations, especially the larger corporations intermingled with government responsibilities such as telecom, we see the complex situation to resolve whether companies like AT&T can be considered public or private. And often, there is a unusual interrelated dynamic between the public and private sphere that play an important part of private institutions, which further  complicates the understanding of the brand. Would Wal-Mart truly have the low-cost brand image without leveraging local, state, and federal governments for healthcare services? 

All this rambling to point out the issue of clearly understanding what lies behind the promise of a brand. The guarantee often has a public element to it, which means we as citizens lift up the brand through our tax dollars and our agreement to support certain public goods and services. I believe this issue has become more distinct in this time period because the dichotomy has been emphasized from the private sphere - calling for smaller government and for this smaller government to leave businesses alone. For these businesses that call for clear separations while consuming large amounts of public services and products, how should we interpret their brand?

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