Corporate Religion: Building a Strong Company Through Personality and Corporate Soul Hardcover – 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
Jesper Kunde has written an outstanding book that starts with the marketing concept and builds an argument and framework for building value through corporate brands. The goal, he says, is to create a 'corporate religion,' a belief among employees and customers around a shared vision of attitudes, values, culture and goals.
This isn't a fluffy brand book. It's both a manifesto and handbook for the strategic development of corporate purpose and the achievement of corporate greatness.
This book is required reading for anyone for whom the starting point in thinking about business is the Marketing Concept, or anyone challenged with the role of building a great brand.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
What is in the book did not seem to me to really relate to creating and maintaining a corporate religion, however. I found the book to be describing the benefits of having intense emotional bonds among customers, users, companies, and employees. I would rename this book, In Search of More Intense Connections.
The key theme of the book is the importance of creating emotional value. 'Emotional values are replacing physical attributes as the fundamental market influence.'
Mr. Kunde is the head of his own advertising agency, and his perspective is very much a psychological one. He takes that point of view, however, and effectively expands it to include a company's external positioning, internal culture, nature, mission, corporate concept, external market competition, internal relationships, and management tasks. This is one of the broadest corporate concept descriptions that I have seen, and is a helpful one.
The book contains detailed examples of companies operating at various levels of effectiveness in these areas. The examples are very visible ones that should mostly be known to you. His examplars are companies like The Body Shop, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, The Walt Disney Company, Harley-Davidson, Nike, Virgin, and SAS. The book contains many beautiful color illustrations and photographs from these companies that reinforce the author's point. To him, 'corporate religion is a set of values which unite the organization around the mission and vision.' When these values are compelling enough, people who do not even use the company's products or services will wear merchandise with the brand name on it. For example, Harley-Davidson stands for freedom in the minds of most, and young women who honor that principle wear skirts with the brand name on it who have never been on a Harley. There are even Harley-Davidson cafes (I have eaten at the one in Manhattan, and I can promise you it isn't the food that brings people in. There is lots of wearable merchandise sold there and elsewhere).
The book ends with a one-year plan for implementing a corporate religion, and an example of how the author applied these principles in his own advertising agency.
Just a few years ago, it was unusual for a management book to address the psychological satisfactions of having an empowering purpose in one's work. Today, that theme is a fairly common one. The book rises above many of the rest by addressing more elements of creating and maintaining this empowering purpose. I encourage you to read the book and apply its lessons. When I first worked in a company after attending law school, I was pleased to find out how cooperative business is compared to how competitive law is. This book brought back that perspective and made it fresh for me again.
These days, many people seek out volunteer work to gain the satisfactions that paid work does not provide. You will know you are making progress with these concepts when people tell you they feel more self-esteem from what their business work stands for than for what their volunteer work does.
After you have finished reading this book, I encourage you to think about the most empowering purpose you can imagine for an organization or a company. Then ask others how they repond to that purpose. Keep refining that purpose until you find an expression of it that positively zings you and sends others into a happy orbit as well. When you can do that, you will then be well on your way to finding the ideal best practice for leadership.
Donald Mitchell (email@example.com)
Full review : This book will appeal to those who prefer the visualisation of models and concepts alongside short examples, and the format will be particularly liked by those whom have followed an MBA degree or similar training. Main stream academics looking for well researched material may be a little disappointed, for by the authors own admission this book is "a constructive attempt to show another, more dynamic way, for companies to move forward. This book is not about research results, but about attitudes". The center has received feedback from many practitioners and managers tackling live corporate branding projects whom seem to like this book, and it is a fairly easy and somewhat innovative read for non-specialists or general managers, but perhaps less so for the well practiced or academic experts in the field.
The author, Jesper Kunde, is the founder of one of Scandinavia's largest and most successful advertising agencies. In this book, he outlines how it is possible to build strong brands through strong leadership and a strong vision. In explaining his holistic approach to brands and organisations, he draws on concepts from psychology and he argues that his ideas can be implemented in any organisation. The book is not a step-by-step manual as such, but rather an introduction to Kunde's way of thinking.
Kunde points out that simply having a good product is not enough anymore. Consumers pay less attention to adverts and brands and look at the companies themselves. They are looking for reliable companies with sound, consistent attitudes. It is necessary for the management to secure trust and loyalty from both within the organisation and from the consumers, and it thus needs to communicate its ideas to all the company's employees and to the public. Kunde argues that if a company has a strong spirit as its foundation, it can reach a strong market position, and a strong market position is what ultimately decides a company's destiny.
In order to achieve a strong market position, an organisation has to have a strong leader who can unite the entire organisation around an idea, a shared vision - a corporate religion. It is important for the leader to find out what the company really is, to be able to describe it. Kunde argues that this ability is unusual, especially in large international companies.
Successful examples mentioned in the book's many short and to the point case studies are Richard Branson and Bill Gates. These charismatic leaders have strong believes, a clear vision of the future, they know how to communicate it and they are conscious of their own roles. However, Kunde points out that the challenge is to establish the corporate religion in people's minds throughout the whole organisation, so that it is not connected to just one person. The corporate religion must be able to continue even after the first charismatic leader is gone, perhaps particularly relevant based on Microsofts problems of recent months.
Kunde argues that in most large, international companies half of the available energy is unused. If the management can describe the company, develop a consistent company concept, formulate an internal religion and manage the whole company accordingly, this hidden potential can be released. The employees, and consumers, need to feel that the company has a soul and that they are all fighting for a cause. The ultimate goal is to reach the stage which Kunde calls 'brand religion', when the product is a lesser part of the brand than the concepts associated with it. Harley Davidson is one of the examples Kunde mentions.
Kunde writes in a clear and straightforward manner, and Corporate Religion is an easy and enjoyable read. Those used to already reading ideas and approaches from scandinavian academic literature will find this general philosophy to business practice quite familiar. The concepts and ideas are well explained and further illustrated by case studies and graphic models. It is a book that some academics (used to MBA approach to learning) and most practitioners will enjoy and find useful as it provides both interesting ways of analysing organisations and of interpreting the reasons for their success, or lack of it, and practical guidelines on how to implement a corporate religion and what pitfalls to avoid.
However for well-read academics or practitioners, the book may not seem that revolutionary and Kunde's ideas rather common sense, but it is still an inspirational book worth reading if you have the time.
will soon follow. I suggest that Jasper's next book be about how to educate and sell in such an approach.
Jesper Kunde steps you through several case studies of successful companies that know what a corporate religion is and how important it is. When a business works from the inside out by building brand loyalty among its employees, those employees become the face of the company. When they shine people come and buy. I highly recommend reading this book and then "Start With Why". Both are amazing insights into how business should be conducted, especially now.