Corporate imaging is about how a company is perceived in the eyes of the general public and the image that the company portrays. Since the public has no formal contact with the corporation, the company must try to convey a mental picture to the public at large. Most of the time, the corporation will hire a marketing firm or public relations firm to help create that image. Most often a corporate image is designed to be appealing to the public, so that the company will create an interest among consumers and help generate brand equity that will translate into sales and profits.
Marketing experts use a range of promotion methods and public relations techniques to create a positive image of the corporation. In some cases, the public is aware of a corporation's identity, is familiar with the company's products and already has a positive image of the company. This situation has a positive impact on sales of brands such as Heinz ketchup and Coca-Cola. In other cases, consumers are unaware of a company's products. An example of a corporation with no consumer identity is Unilever, which in 2011 was manufacturing Hellmann's mayonnaise and Skippy peanut butter.
A positive corporate image and manufacturer credibility can greatly increase the speed with which consumers will accept a given company's new products. In other cases, companies acquire a negative association in the public's eyes. For instance, Exxon's public image was virtually destroyed following the Valdez oil spill.
Its image is what distinguishes a corporation from its competitors. Sales increase when the company is portrayed as being principled and productive. If the company does not portray an image of strength and integrity, customers may not understand everything it has to offer. The first step in building an image is to clearly understand and exploit the company's competitive advantages in the marketplace.
Creating a corporate image is only the first step. The company must work diligently to support and maintain that image through its actions. The image and message portrayed to the customer must be accurate in that it reflects the company's unique strengths. The rule is that customer expectation, minus reality, equals customer disappointment.
One of the best ways to shape a good corporate image is to establish and maintain positive relationships with the public. Offering products that meet and exceed consumer expectations can accomplish this goal and create goodwill. Once consumers become familiar with the company's products and form a positive opinion, they begin to share those opinions with others. New customers are introduced to the products and a favorable perception is created in the mind of consumers.
To keep the corporate image fresh, it must be reflected in all of the brands and products the corporation manufactures and markets. If even one product that the company produces is not up to consumer standards, not only will sales of that product suffer, but sales of other products may also be affected. The corporate image is an amalgam of the image of each individual product the company makes.
It is not only corporations that create these types of images. Charitable organizations, religious organizations and educational organizations all have unique images that they use to identify themselves to the public.