‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see’ – Henry David Thoreau.
Image management is undeniably among the most critical elements in the corporate world for both individuals as well as an entire organization. This is because perception and impression play an immense role in making or breaking strong relationships between clients, employers, associates, and colleagues alike. Leading marketing consultants have revealed that the perceptions of an organization affect the ability to recruit financial resources, people, and partnerships required to accomplish goals and objectives.
A paper in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Service on ‘Corporate image and corporate reputation in customer’s retention’1 collected data from three service industries namely 222 retail consumers, 171 clients of major long-distance companies, and 395 students studying business administration. It revealed that
Corporate Identity: This refers to the reality and distinctiveness that sets one apart from the others. An identity includes values and beliefs that are held, what they regard as important or unimportant, and the reason for the set of behaviours adopted.
Corporate Image: A corporate image is the presentation of such ideologies to all stakeholders including customers, distributors and retailers, financial institutions and analysts, shareholders, government regulatory agencies, social action organizations, the general public, and employees. The image presented to them can influence stakeholders’ willingness to provide, sustain, increase, or withdraw support. For instance, government regulatory agencies are lawfully required to monitor and regulate firms, but an organization with a positive and impressionable image can leverage the considerable discretion adopted by such bodies and influence them to be much less censorious. In the same manner, individuals can leverage the powers of an impressionable image to climb higher in the corporate ladder.
Corporate communication: This is the link between corporate identity and image. This includes almost anything an individual or organization does, including verbal communication like meetings, press conferences, discussions, mergers, interviews, projects, pitches etc.; written communication through codes of ethics, mission statements, annual reports, advertising copies, company slogans, articles, product/service names and descriptions, and logos among others.
Feedback: This is essential in a continuous cycle of corporate image management wherein business owners, managers, and employees must seek accurate information on how they are perceived. Feedback must be a practical matter elicited from salespeople, clients, and employees, customers, and other business associates. The findings gained can help improve communication content and methodologies to constantly sharpen an organization or professional’s corporate image.
All these elements are invaluable towards creating an impressionable and