An old boss of mine told me once that people at the press business think that “it is better that people are saying bad things about you than people are saying nothing about you”.
There must be a good reason for that sentence that can be analyzed through complexity. If we translate this affirmation to the complexity language the sentence should be rewritten as “it is better that the information about you is wrong than there was no information about you”. If we analyze this in terms of complexity analysis we can understand that what we know as the existence of information means that there is structured information although it has a high level of uncertainty.
In order to be controlled, a system must have a certain kind of structure. A non-structured system always evolves in an uncontrollable way freely. Thinking in this way we can understand better the meaning of the initial sentence. If people are saying lies about you, people has a wrong image of you, but if there is an image about you that you can modify providing your own information. If there is no image about you, any additional information you provide would not be understood as related to certain known identity or object and people could link the new piece of information to nothing. Of course, you cannot know what will be the final result but you know that you have moved the image in a bad-good axis from the bad side to the good one.
This analysis is showing how the process of a corporate image is created and how the process of a corporate image can be destroyed. From my education on design management I remember that people expert in the design of a corporate image usually think that the aim of the project for the creation of a corporate image must try that this image fits well reality. The reason can be seen as a matter of complexity, corporate image is providing information about our organization, and if it fits reality our clients will have proper information about us in order that they can do business with us in a simpler way.
On the other hand, if the products of the competition are not as good as ours, they have a way to reduce our competitiveness, because the way to destroy the structure is increasing entropy. Although you can move the image of the company through the bad-good axis the benefit of the business would be influenced and uncontrolled as the number of pieces of information about your company increases, making that the image of your company is being perceived in many different ways by different people. Corporate image tries to provide uniformity for the perceived image; however, when the entropy of the information about you increases the perceived image by different people can have huge variability destroying that uniformity or identity.
The best way to destroy the image of a company or a person is not repeating the same lie over and over because this can be counteracted repeating the same truth over and over. The best way to destroy the image of a person is to say a different lie every time, because although you repeat different truths over and over, the entropy is destroying your image day by day.
In simpler words, it is not hazardous that someone says that my name is Smith, because I can repeat every day that my name is not Smith, however, if I have to say today that my name is not Smith and tomorrow that my name is not Jones, I am contributing every day to get that people forget finally which one is my real name.
I would complete the initial sentence of my old boss in the following way: “it is better that people are saying bad things about you than people are saying nothing about you, if they are always saying the same things”.
Although competition does not usually lie about our company, complexity shows too, why a half truth is worse than a lie. The entropy or uncertainty introduced by a half truth is higher than the entropy introduced by a lie. The process of destroying a corporate image is not through the change of this image but blurring it. For instance, if an employee can substitute a bad manager, the best way that this bad manager has in order to avoid it, is to put around him people doing very different things in order that the performance of that employee finally get blurred through the information about the tasks of the rest, that can provide no information about him but it hides the information about him. Competition can destroy our identity simply sending information about their products if they have different characteristics to ours because people can link our products to characteristics that they have not got instead of the characteristics they have.
As we can see, many times the real problem about corporate image related to a business with a clear identity is not to get that people cannot see what you do not want they can see, but to get that people can see what you are really and you want they can see, because as the entropy of a system tend to increase in a natural way this is not a so easy task. To hide characteristics is easier than to create identity from real values in a highly competitive environment.