The MAIM Class of 2014 shares their individual innovation opportunities in the lead up to their Degree Show, Exploiting Chaos: Innovation in the Making. Here, Alexandra Safronova proposes different theories and practical examples of innovation and branding through internal collaboration in the fashion industry.
Through my previous work experience in the fashion industry, I had the opportunity to observe how a lack of internal communication can negatively influence the branding processes. Also finding a limited quantity of relevant literature addressing the issue, I looked to investigate the topic in my research. In particular, I aimed to understand how internal communication can influence the branding processes in fashion companies and alternatively, how a culture of innovation can improve internal communication in those same firms.
Choosing a case study approach in order to get an accurate and detailed view of the brand in question, my goal was to understand and assess the organisational culture and its impact on internal communications. Focusing on a French luxury brand with a strong heritage, I conducted field research which included direct observations, communication with staff and secondary research based on the brand’s official reports. Using a consistent method for data collection known as the ‘Cultural Web’ developed by Gerry Johnson, I was able to consider six different overlapping aspects of culture.
The research revealed a lack of communication which was partly a consequence of complexity within the company, reflected in a hierarchical structure with total control from the top, which prevented a smooth flow of information flow. Unfortunately, the research showed that an absence of continuous internal communication leads to inconsistent goals among the various departments, which resulted in a lack of consistency of the brand image with employees.
Aside from a lack of addressing this issue with the brand this research focused on, I found that the topic is generally overlooked within the fashion industry overall. However, the question of internal communication and organisational culture described in detail in the field of innovation management could cause a significant impact if applied by fashion brands.
Understanding how proper communication can improve internal processes may subsequently improve the brands performance, through an organised and continuous system that supports internal communication. Depending on the company’s objectives and size, this may be the responsibility of the marketing/branding or HR departments or through newly developed ‘communication’ departments.
To learn more about supporting brand values in the fashion industry and Alexandra’s research, please join us at the MA Innovation Management upcoming Degree Show,Exploiting Chaos: Innovation in the Making, from the 18-22 June.