Branding as integration vehicle for IR

Integrated reporting rests on two premises:

  1. That organizations behave like living creatures (biological premise).
  2. That living creatures exist holistically (holistic premise).

Taken together those two premises narrow down possibilities for organizational philosophy, explanation, conception, management, supervision, risk management and reporting.

In my book brandlife I have devoted quite some space to questions how to manage organizations if they are living creatures (and they are living, as I have proved also in one of previous blogs). Successful managers feel (know) when to keep management tight and when they have to loose the grip. Power happens only when and if the management grip loosens. All golfers know how difficult it is to be precise with as loose grip as possible to hit long shots. One has to have strict rules in place (in operation) to loose the grip over the management, to “let it go” as explained in mentioned book.

One could find similar examples in risk management. Risk management is the most perfect example of loose grip theory. If one can in theory manage with tight grip and for this reason underperform, it is even in theory what else in practice impossible to manage crisis that comes from risks in such manner. An event is a crisis only if it happens so fast that one cannot hold a grip on it. If one can hold a grip on situation, such situation is not crisis event. So when crisis happens no manager holds situation. It is up to every participant to react “intuitively” in accordance to plans planted in our “muscular brains” beforehand (crisis plans devised from risk evaluation). Crisis is a final proof that organization as memetic entity lives exactly for the reason that it is out of manager’s hands completely. Each cell becomes subconscious memetic manager as much as each cell in our body is ultimate manager for us, humans.

But then we have to ask ourselves about reporting. Reporting is management activity but it is also written result. With that I have pointed to dual meaning of integrated reporting (nothing but integrated reporting exists, in fact!). Reporting is:

  1. Management activity (complex, dynamic, fluid, holistic, integrated, analogue)
  2. Reporting result (one-dimensional, static, frozen, digital)

As management activity it is a part of memetic organizational creation, re-creation and reproduction. As reporting result it is one part of internal feedback system and external relations with stakeholders providing them feeds for their actions.

Careful reader will notice here that with this IR is repeating a dual nature of our life that is also represented in branding theory. There we talk about brands (complex, analogue) on one hand and trademarks (frozen, digital) on another.

It is then of no surprise that branding provides tools for integration of reporting.

Existing theory on Integrated reporting is quite weak on the level of integration. All available resources point out necessity for integration, drivers of integrated thinking within organization, but how to achieve integration in practice and what are tools for such integration no one explains. Fortunately the answer is quite simple: organizational integration rests on branding and branding principles like explained in Standard branding model © provide tools for managers for integration processes in organization. Standard branding model provides blueprint for actions to be taken to achieve first step in IR, integrated thinking. As explained on many places brand is also integral (core) part of business model. And business model provides not only explanation of added value machine but at the same time Index (digitalization) of Integrated report, frozen second part of IR. Such Index can be further broken down to KPI’s.

The story of IR seems difficult, but becomes utterly transparent in the moment when we start to comprehend organizations as living memetic entities. Brands are those agents that integrate companies and thus brands and brands only provide tools for integrated thinking within Integrated Reporting.


Feature personal photo: Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar. Unification and integration.

Andrej Drapal