Judy Rudin is the founder and President of CDDC Strategic Communications Inc. headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. With over fifteen years experience as a senior executive and consultant, Judy has become a widely respected advisor in the fields of communications, community development, multimedia messaging and marketing. She also possesses skills in project design, management and development as well as team building and human resource management, to name but a few.
CDDC Communications was founded in 1989 and numbers among its clients such names as the University of British Columbia, Disney, The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, Xerox, the Pan Pacific Hotel Group and Macro Plastics (USA). The company has also advised all levels of government in Canada, and is recognized as a leader and trend-setter in its numerous fields of expertise.
In October 2006, Judy met with CCIBA to discuss a variety of current issues in the fields of marketing, communications and globalization.
CCIBA: What would you say is the core activity of a company such as yours?
Judy Rudin: Call it "people moving." We have to move ideas, perceptions and public opinion. We are spending an increasing amount of time working with American companies trying to enter the Canadian market. At the moment we're particularly involved in fostering and facilitating partnerships and coalitions between groups and companies to assist, through the creation of synergy, in securing and implementing contracts for very large projects beyond the capacity of an individual corporate entity.
CCIBA:You mentioned public opinion and perceptions, which leads to the notion of corporate identity. What is corporate identity, and what is an “identity audit?”
Judy Rudin: That's the million-dollar question. When most people think of corporate identity,they think of logos and other graphic representations, but they’re only one part of the story. There’s more to identity than that. Identity is not only visual representation, it comprises the entire range of what your customers and the general public think of your company and what it does.
An identity audit process involves a multi-functional analysis of a company’s mission and values, as well as a survey of public perception, public reactions to its visual imaging and its branding. These days, the identity of a company goes far beyond a simple understanding of its product line, it’s a comprehensive perception of what a company is, what it does, and -- perhaps most important of all -- what it stands for.
It's also important to understand that implementing an identity audit is not simply an external process. It requires an internal process as well whereby managers and non-managers alike examine company goals and values to see if they’re still relevant, and if the people within the company can still support, understand and operate by them. If there is no staff buy-in on company values, the company could well be in serious trouble. So an identity audit is from the outside and the inside.
CCIBA:So the concept of corporate or company identity goes beyond branding alone?
Judy Rudin: Absolutely. An identity subsumes all the thoughts and perceptions held about your company. It's not only a matter of whether the public likes your products, it's how they feel about your company and what it does. Branding is usually thought of in its narrowest sense as the basic visual representations of the company in relation to product recognition, but identity is the whole package.
CCIBA: You’ve mentioned mission and values in relation to identity. How do you view their importance?
Judy Rudin: Well, to start with, they're useless if they don't have an objective. They have to lead somewhere, provide focus. So many mission statements are nothing more than lists of platitudes. They provide no end point, and have noreal value.
After all, what’s the goal of any business? Profit, of course. Everything that’s done has to be measurable in terms of its contribution to profitability. Mission and value statements are no exception. They have to be specific and meaningful enough to allow you to look at them and ask how they contributed to profits. You must be able to measure that, or the mission and values statements may as well not be there.
CCIBA: So is identity only a matter of a company's products or services?
Judy Rudin: No. Many companies are finding that there is identity value, and thus a positive influence on profitability, to be gained from what was once called good corporate citizenship. That is, companies are finding that they can be better regarded in the marketplace through things like their support of charitable causes or other not-for-profit enterprises. Companies today will pay considerable amounts of money to sponsor community events and thus help build a public identity conducive to the promotion of their products. Some of the world’s largest corporations engage in philanthropic activities, and the mission and values statements of those companies are clear, concise and quantifiable – In terms of return on investment in both product success and philanthropic activities.
CCIBA: So mission and value statements can go beyond traditional profit goals?
Judy Rudin: Yes. As more attention is being paid by companies to community-centered activities, mission and values statements are reflecting those new priorities.? But, the necessity of showing a profit has not gone away. Companies are selecting their charitable activities in relation to their corporate culture and self-perceptions, and identifying those causes which align with the company’s values.
CCIBA: Let's shift gears a little and look at a more global issue. Let's suppose you are approached by a company from overseas that is seeking to establish itself in the Canadian market, to manufacture or sell, or both. Let's further suppose they have done all their other homework and are confident that they can find a niche. What advice would you give them?
Judy Rudin: I'd try to explain that they must view their marketing in a Canadian way. The methods they use at home may not work in Canada. I had this experience some years ago when working with a Japanese company that opened operations in Canada, and it was vital for them to understand the cultural differences that exist. The whole concept of brand and identity comes into play: the visual image, the packaging (actual and figurative) of the product, and the public face the company presents to the Canadian consumer. A product, even a good one, will not achieve its full potential – and may fail altogether – if the consuming public doesn't like the company producing it.
Companies from offshore must seek professional advice and not ignore the cultural imperatives. No matter how proud a company may be of its brand and identity at home, it must be prepared to add to or change its systems in order to make it international. A brand must have global attraction to succeed on the global stage.
CCIBA: And those concepts would hold for a Canadian or North American company intending to take products or services overseas wouldn’t it?
Judy Rudin: Definitely. A huge component of the decision to purchase any item is emotion. We don't buy what we don't like, and quality ceases to be a factor. If a product from overseas does not appeal to us because of what it looks like, we will not buy it, and the same is true in reverse. A North American company hoping to make inroads overseas, out of its familiar market context, must pay attention to the cultural imperatives in the country where it is doing business.
CCIBA:Thank you Judy.
NOTE: Further information on CDDC can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org