The image of a company is an average image of an economic entity created in its environment, which consists in reflecting in the consciousness of members of this group the past and present component of reality, directly related to this entity or its environment. It is a collection of subjective associations and ideas of recipients about a given company, which usually differs from the identity of an economic entity. In terms of marketing, the image means the sum of beliefs, attitudes and ideas that a person or group of people has in relation to a specific subject. They are closely related to the promotion of the company, and the image is often perceived as the effect of Public Relations activities.
Types of company image
Classifying the image of business entities, it is worth expanding its basic division, ie a positive and negative image, which creates strong commercial correlations, with additional aspects. The image is a subjective concept, ie it is understood differently by different groups of recipients, it is often referred to as a long-term goal of PR, it evolves over time and requires constant management. For this reason, we distinguish several types of image:
- real (foreign) - a reliable image of the company in its environment,
- mirror (own) - which is the image of the company among its employees,
- desirable - presenting the target image of the company that the company would like to create in its auditorium,
- optimal - creating a compromise between the real, mirrored and desired image, which is possible to achieve in given market conditions.
The company's image and its reputation and identity
The essence of the company's image, based on its current, multi-dimensional image, which is the resultant of complex informational content in the external and internal environment, is often understood synonymously with its reputation and identity. However, the image is an overarching concept, which includes credibility, reliability and trust, which consists of reputation, as a definitely narrower concept. Identity is the elements that identify a company that distinguishes it from other entities, thus forming the basis of the company's image and defining it to a much smaller extent.
The value of the company's image
The image of the company, due to its market potential, is one of the most valuable assets of the company. Its value is not demonstrated today in production capacity, but in the possession of loyal consumer groups that are brand ambassadors. The value of the company's image is therefore a set of all the company's obligations and assets, associated with the image and company symbol, which affects the perception of the products distributed by the company both in the eyes of individual and institutional clients. For this reason, it is worth distinguishing psychological, market and legal factors that create the value of the company's image:
- Psychological factors:
- company awareness,
- perceived quality and credibility,
- positive associations,
- loyalty to the company.
- Legal factors:
- legal protection of the image: a trademark symbol, brands, packaging, visual identification elements, patents introduced to the market.
- position on the market,
- market structure,
- international contacts,
- company's perspectives.
Based on the above factors, goodwill is created from the point of view of the client (post-purchase satisfaction, belief in the rightness of cooperation) and the company (price, profit, efficiency, competitiveness and bargaining power). Valuation of the company's image value is a very complex process with a high degree of subjectivism. For accounting purposes, the image is classified as intangible assets that create intangible assets of the company.
Elements of promotion and shaping the image of companies
Marketing activities are, by definition, directed at creating a specific company image in the auditorium in order to achieve a translation into its financial profit. For this reason, we distinguish numerous tools supporting the process of building the image of enterprises:
- Advertising and Public Relations,
- Personal sale,
- BTL techniques,
- Direct marketing
Public Relations as a support for creating the image
PR activities are often understood as communication of the image. For this reason, the image requires proper profiling to a specific target or target group. It should be modeled in parallel depending on current trends and market trends, in order to evoke positive feedback from the company and the products or services it distributes. Due to the techniques used in Public Relations indirect persuasion, it is characterized by a much greater efficiency and credibility of image-related activities.
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- Shee, P. S. B., & Abratt, R. (1989). A new approach to the corporate image management process. Journal of marketing management, 5(1), 63-76.
- Brown, T. J., Dacin, P. A., Pratt, M. G., & Whetten, D. A. (2006). Identity, intended image, construed image, and reputation: An interdisciplinary framework and suggested terminology. Journal of the academy of marketing science, 34(2), 99-106.