What is an image and how does it happen? There are many different definitions of the term «image». If we summarize all existing points of view, we can characterize it as an image created for a person, team or business object, used for personal or commercial purposes. In essence, this is the most profitable, precisely selected information that should be conveyed to others. Let’s look at the main approaches to image classification.
Individual image, as the name implies, is reputation of an individual. It can be judged from several directions. For example, in appearance — clothes, make-up, haircut, accessories, degree of neatness, that is, according to his habitus. This component of the image is called dimensional.
The image of a person carries a lot of information. So, a torn button, a dirty shirt collar and unkempt nails indicate a distracted and sloppy person. Earthy complexion indicates the presence of bad habits or health problems. Excessive makeup betrays a vulgar, promiscuous person.
Everything is evaluated: physique, physical form, cosmetics, hairstyle, clothing and accessories — ideally, they should evoke pleasant emotions, testify to a person’s self-esteem and respect for others.
A person whose appearance is impeccable is always perceived better, and she feels more confident. Most of us experience serious discomfort if we are forced to appear in public in shabby clothes, with a dirty head or with imperfections in the skin. Everyone knows the wisdom of “meet by clothes”, and this is 100% true, so a personal dimensional image is important for shaping the attitude of others.
An environmental image is an opinion about a person, which is created on the basis of an assessment of his environment and communication. This includes a range of factors:
- people with whom a person communicates;
- Personal car.
It should be noted that the habitat does not necessarily depend on the person himself, however, it significantly affects his reputation.
A materialized image is created on the basis of an assessment of things and objects made by the person himself. These can be business letters, as well as business cards, flyers with advertisements and other similar products.
Verbal image is an assessment of a person based on what a person says or writes. Oral and written speech are one of the stable characteristics of the personality. The manner of expressing one’s thoughts, the voice, the vocabulary used and the grammatical structure can either create an attractive image of a person, or completely destroy it, charm the interlocutor or, conversely, turn it away. Pronunciation directly indicates the social affiliation of a person. It is no secret that the communicative image is of great importance in the business environment — usually the leaders are those who can speak better.
According to facial expressions, gestures, as well as posture, speech intonations and personal distance, a kinetic image is formed. metal — in this case, assessments and judgments are made on the basis of an analysis of the principles of a person, his morality, beliefs and worldview, they can make a person both pleasant for communication and, on the contrary, uninteresting. Background — this includes what others say about a particular character (acquaintances, relatives, colleagues or the media). Internet image — here we mean an assessment of a person’s activity on the Web, what he will forgive, what pictures and photos he uploads, how he comments. Nowadays, the Internet has become an integral part of the life of a modern person, because it is a full-fledged and significant source of interesting information about people.
Corporate image is the reputation of the organization, which is a set of perceptions of the company by many people. Usually the impression about the company is formed in the process of personal contacts of people with this or that enterprise, from media reports, as well as gossip and rumors circulating in society. The corporate image is formed on the basis of an analysis of the internal, external and entrepreneurial qualities of the organization.
The external image consists of several components:
- brand and product image;
- people’s perception of the characteristics of the products and services offered;
- features of the main consumers of goods, their social status and financial situation.
The internal component of the corporate image reflects the level of culture of the enterprise as a whole, it includes:
- assessment of the actions and competence of the management personnel;
- visual image of the company — involves an assessment of the office, interior, branding and dress code of employees.
Equally important are the components of the company’s public reputation — participation in charitable projects, organization of socially significant and environmental programs. Business reputation involves the perception of the business activity of companies. This characteristic makes a significant contribution to the creation of an overall corporate image.
The image of the company does not exist on its own, it is closely related to what happens both inside the company and far beyond its borders.. The activities of any enterprise and, accordingly, its image in the eyes of ordinary consumers can be influenced by the regulatory framework in the country, as well as business partners (suppliers, buyers, creditors). It would be correct to say that the corporate image does not exist on its own — it «works» in conjunction with the opinions of people who are associated with the enterprise.
Approaches to Image Classification
Image researchers distinguish 3 main approaches to the classification of its varieties: functional, as well as contextual and comparative. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
The functional approach involves several possible varieties of the image.
- Mirror — this kind of image, which is characterized by our own ideas about ourselves. In this case, a person, as it were, looks in a mirror and talks about his strengths and weaknesses, characteristic features. Usually, this option involves positive judgments, since people tend to put forward merits in a personal assessment, and an unfavorable opinion from the outside is practically not perceived. Such an image can be determined by leadership traits, ideas about certain specialties, professions.
- current image — this option is the opposite of the mirror one and involves an opinion from the outside. It is in this area that promotion, advertising and PR are widely used — lack of information, misunderstanding and personal prejudice often form a reputation lower than real actions and deeds. The current image does not always shape the view of the audience as a whole, it can be the opinions of journalists, clients, students or voters. One of the most important tasks in this case is the formation of not so much a positive image as a correct and adequate one.
- desired image. Everything is clear here — this is the reputation we are striving for. Such a halo is especially relevant for individuals, as well as newly created structures. Usually, at the beginning of activity, few people know about them, so the desired image in this situation acts as a qualitatively possible one.
The contextual approach to assessing the image assumes that it is of a systemic nature, taking into account the conditions for its implementation, while its individual components should not conflict with each other. This is a systemic assessment of reputation, which allows one visible characteristic to evoke associations with related traits. It should be understood that the task of winning universal recognition in this case is far from obligatory.
A comparative image involves comparing two or more image characteristics. For example, when evaluating the professionalism of a teacher, the quality of teaching, student feedback, and proven learning outcomes in the form of the results of olympiads, exams, conferences, and other scientific events can be considered. According to the assessment a person makes a decision for himself to go to a particular teacher or choose the option of self-study of the issue.
There are several other image classifications. So, depending on the emotional coloring, there are two types of reputation.
- Positive — in this case, a person or a company is perceived in a favorable way; all advertising activity of any company is aimed at achieving such an image.
- Negative — quite often becomes a consequence of the activity of competitors who resort to «black» PR. Often this is done implicitly and indirectly using the technology of «secret coercion».
Depending on the direction of advertising activities, the following types are distinguished.
- Perceived image — this is how others see a person or company, while people may not even guess how they are treated and how they really speak of them.
- Required — this applies to a greater extent to the business sphere, when some specialties require quite certain image characteristics. For example, they include the royal crown, judicial mantle and military uniform — they are included in the list of symbols necessary to perform specific social and official roles.
Depending on the principle of image formation, we single out such variants of the image.
- Spontaneous — one that has developed naturally. It can have both positive and negative connotations.
- Purposeful — takes place when a reputation is created artificially in order to form a favorable or negative attitude towards a particular subject.
Depending on the characteristics of perception:
- rational image — it is focused on a narrow circle of people who are competent in a particular area;
- emotional — designed for a wide range of people.
In the modern world, image is given great importance, so those who know how to «work with reputation» will always be in a winning position compared to those who let their image drift.
This is especially true in business and political technologies, although the opinion of others is often of key importance in building personal relationships.
About the types of image that form personal attractiveness, see the video below.