Corporate Image or Reputation refers to the manner in which a company and its activities are perceived by outsiders. A corporation is defined by how people see it. All organisations have their own unique corporate image but a few actually work to protect and project it. Globalization plays a major role in the rise of corporate image programs because companies want to find ways to promote themselves in new markets.
Many organisations work hard to create a positive image in the minds of their stakeholders. There are fundamental aspects to the process of managing one’s image:
Corporate Identity – This encompasses the unique traits of the organisation. It is used to differentiate it from other companies and help carve out a niche for its advertising. This identity is comprised of four components, including corporate strategy, corporate culture, organizational design, and operations. Corporate Strategy is the overall plan that determines how the company approaches the market and its policies on how to compete. Corporate culture refers to the shared values and beliefs that the members of the organisation share and relate to. It is responsible for the organization’s behavior. Organizational design refers to the choices made by top managers to develop organisational relationships. It includes the degree of decentralization, the number of staff personnel, organisational roles, and other internal systems and procedures. Operations refers to the combination of activities the firm engages in, these activities can influence its identity in a variety of ways.
Corporate communication – This is the link between identity and image. Principal sources of corporate communication are product names and logos, formal statements (mission statement, code of ethics, annual reports, advertising, and company slogans), and employee’s behavior during public events, such as trade shows , networking sessions, as well as unscheduled events such as lawsuits. “Reputation problems grow like weed in a garden”, Davis Young wrote in his book “Building your company’s good name”. It is important to stay vigilant on how a company speaks and acts.
Feedback – A continuous feedback system is important, so that business owners and branding managers can receive accurate up-to-date information on how the company is perceived. This allows modifications to be made quickly. Feedback can be come from any number of sources, including employees, salespeople and clients.
Here are some more ideas for helping to project a good image:
- Appeal to your largest audience
- Brand – Ensure your stationary looks good. Don’t hesitate to spend some money on brochures and business cards. Coordinate every channel including letterhead, shipping labels, invoices, trademarks, samples and product labels, so that quality remains consistent. These things say a lot about your company and if handled well, can do wonders for your professional reputation
- Website – In the digital age, where everything is a click away, it takes only a second for the public to browse a company site and make a decision. Make sure your website projects a professional image and is informative and easy to navigate. It should also include your current contact information, including your phone number, address and other social media outlets.
- Participate in trade associations & councils.
- Keep the press informed and get involved in the industry at large. For example, you might join an engineering association and work towards bettering the industry for the people in it.
To build a strong corporate image, long term planning is a must. It is not something that anyone can accomplish in a few weeks. Nevertheless, it is an important investment that will create long term gains for any company.
Avi | DBPC Blog