Corporate Image and Branding
When I was in University corporate image was THE buzz word for marketing. Everything lead back to corporate image – marketing established corporate image, focus groups provided feedback on corporate image, mission statements defined corporate image, even pre-calculus factored corporate image (ok, so maybe I’m stretching it a bit), but these days corporate image is considered ‘old news’ and less than applicable. Anyone wandering down this dangerous train of thought could be building a kill switch into their company. Corporate image may no longer be the buzz word, but it should be the code you live by and at the center of all you do. Corporate image should mean excellence in everything.
Corporate image is the composite psychological impression consumers have of a company. It is little more than the public perception of your company rather than an actual reflection of its state or position. Every department, worker, correspondence and behavior sent out from your company makes up your corporate image. Good corporate image is vital to business growth and sustainability. So how do you create a corporate image that rivals Bill Gates in success and Mother Teresa in honesty? The fluid nature of corporate image makes keeping a positive position much harder. One unfortunate happening or decision, and you can switch from flavor of the month to dog of the day at the flip of a coin.
Establishing an image that is robust and consistent is the basic building block of a good image. If there is a foundation of positive image consistently coming from the company the buy in to trust is easier. For instance, if a client comes to visit and your selling your products from the back of an old 1930’s camper van with one headlight in the parking lot, the judgment is made about the quality of your company, integrity and product as a whole in an instant. If you send out your invoices on a crumpled piece of paper with a whacking great big coffee ring on it – don’t expect another order anytime soon.
Something as simple as a logo, letter head or web page expresses who you are and what you are about. First impressions aren’t one thing – they are the only thing! You only get one shot at a first impression, make sure it’s expressive. Make sure everything that leaves your company has the company theme on it. Get a great logo, go the extra mile with your printing, make your web design unforgettable. Spend a bit more to add a touch of luxury, go and find the talent you lack that makes the difference. These are all basic elements to establishing a robust corporate image that can weather a storm – or scandal –or two. Make sure your buildings are neat and tidy; your employees are positive and care about what they do, especially in the customer care department. It may sound anal, but it’s the way good images are made, and kept. With corporate image – consistency is the bomb.
Ploughing some capitol into marketing always raises the bar on corporate image. Innovative marketing companies know their trade and can add positive image with a good ROI. They are skilled at presenting a company in its best light and have experience on how to influence the public’s perception positively. Corporate image will always give you a good return ask any large company. They have budgets bigger than the gross national debt of a small country assigned to marketing to make sure their corporate image in always in the pink. Good marketing pays. If they can make a dental practice or colonic irrigation clinic look like as attractive as a trip to theme park, they can make your company look like a rival to Apple computers. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by your day to day business and forget to see the ‘whole’.
Once you have a good design and a great marketing plan for all your media and communication, all you have to concentrate on is the ‘human’ element of your company image. With something as important as the corporate image of your company, do not be afraid to ask around, interview marketing companies and see their portfolio. They are used to having their craft examined. They should be able to express what you envisage and nurture your ideas into a solid influencing image. Though the image that is a product of Bill Gates and Mother Theresa is a little disturbing…