After reading this article you will learn about the Corporate Image of a Business Enterprise.
Introduction to Corporate Image of a Business Enterprise:
Image is an impression and a mental picture about things. The concept of image, in relation to a business enterprise, is akin to likeness or dis-likeness of it in the mind of various sections of people who deal with such enterprise.
In that sense, most business enterprises are jealous of their image and concerned with developing a favourable image in the eyes of ‘certain members’ (called the ‘publics’) of the society. It is, because their high esteem value (i.e. value of a good image) helps to attract new customers, high calibre managerial personnel, new market territories and new areas of industry.
Corporate image implies the standing of a corporation in its field of business from the judgmental view points of the ‘publics’—customers, employees, community, suppliers, shareholders, fellow businessmen and the state. How they rate their impressions of a business enterprise provide clues to the actual state of corporate image.
To illustrate, the attributes relevant for determining corporate image are: Indian company—reputation in general, foreign company—reputation in their activities, multinational corporation—reputation in key sectors, social responsibilities awareness, quality consciousness, control over price, pioneers in the field, maintenance of age-old tradition, creativity in services, contact with the client, contact with the trade, etc.
“Corporate image is the impression of the overall corporation held by the constituent ‘publics’. The image that each public has of the corporation determines, to a large degree, the success of the strategy vis-a-vis that group.”
The following model illustrates the Image development process of a corporation from three aspects—Direct, Derived and self (profile):
According to Thomas R. Horton “corporations, like individuals, create images in the minds of people with whom they come in contact. It is the degree to which the mission is clearly understood by a company’s people, and the way in which they interact with management—the regard in which they are held and the influence they wield—that will determine the substance, and hence the image, of any enterprise, large or small.”
Corporate image is an integral part of corporate strategy. In developing and coordinating strategies a corporate entity has to consider the needs, exceptions and critical demands of each of the multiple masters or publics, viz., customers, shareholders, distributors, government, employees, etc.
Each of these publics has somewhat different perception of the corporation because each is primarily concerned with a different facet of corporate strategy. As a consequence, creating and maintaining a positive image with several constituencies of divergent nature become the central issue in the formulation of effective corporate strategy.
Designing Corporate Image Programme:
When formulating an image communication programme, the exponents of this concept suggest examination on three critical areas:
(i) Identification of the various sources and channels through which image is communicated and their incorporation into the communication plan;
(ii) Identification of the ‘publics’ relevant to the firm and of their vital concerns addressed in the plan; and
(iii) Establishment of the relationship between the corporation and its products that the management wishes to convey to the publics.
Image communication sources: Corporate image is communicated in numerous ways. The scheme may include:
The name styles used for the corporation and its divisions, departments, and subsidiary companies as well as the words used for identifying the company’s industries, markets, services, personnel titles, etc. Corporate name changes owing to mergers and acquisitions also contribute towards corporate image.
(2) Formal Statements:
Statements consistently associated with a company or elements of that company that clarify its mission, purposes, philosophy or unique contribution to both internal and external environments.
The degree or state of relationship between divisions, departments, subsidiaries and affiliates.
(4) Imagery and Graphics:
The forms of visual communication, e.g., symbols, formats, colour, etc.
(5) Permanent Media:
Business cards, forms, stationery, vehicles, facilities, etc.
(6) Promotional Media:
Advertisement, brochures, publications, public relations, community events and activities, accredited representatives and spokesmen, audio-visual presentations, etc. The messages emanating from these sources or channels need to be carefully evaluated and coordinated with both the overall corporate strategy and each other.
This relationship is typically important to represent a fundamental dimension of both corporate strategy and projected image.
There are broadly five categories of such relationships:
(1) Single Entity:
Such entities offer one product line or set of services, and so their corporate image relates to the product or services. When expansion programmes are afoot, image communication modes are required to be streamlined keeping in view the problems.
Studies in this area reveal that successful companies do not relate their brands with corporate names as a strategy.
Neither the corporate nor the individual brand names dominate. Various divisions of different products maintain separate image but each is associated with the corporation. Examples are: TELCO, GKW.
Sometimes the corporate name is dominant and sometimes the brand names, and sometimes both are given equal emphasis. Examples are: ECIL (complex electronic installations as well as television sets), HMT (producing machine tools primarily and watches), etc.
Some companies seriously consider corporate image as supreme, and all their communication modes are aimed at reinforcing this image. This programme is undertaken by many medium-sized successful companies. Recently corporate advertisement campaigns and press releases, etc. consider image communication as the means to develop corporate strategy.