In modern conditions of business development, the company’s image is one of its relevant and effective tools necessary for successful work. When choosing a partner for a commercial transaction, first of all, they pay attention to his business reputation. Building a favorable image of an organization is a painstaking process that takes years to complete. With the growth and development of the company, its image also undergoes a change, which must always correspond to the current state of affairs and be directed to the needs of the consumer.
What it is?
The concept of the company’s image implies the prevailing opinion of partners, customers and the public about the reliability of the enterprise, the quality of the services it provides and the positive business reputation of its management. When forming the image, the management style within the company, interpersonal relations of employees, as well as how external business contacts are built, are important. In addition, the image includes the name of the company, its logo, motto, trademark and other official paraphernalia.
The perception of the company is formed as a combination of its characteristics and properties, which have developed naturally or formed purposefully. To maintain their positive image, they carry out work, thanks to which the image is endowed with additional values. Depending on the activity of introducing such values into the consciousness of the public, the company promotes itself among competitors. Thus, the image is also quite a strong competitive tool.
Correctly formed perception presents alignment of the company’s mission with the needs of the clientwhich helps the organization to position itself and its services in the sales market from a favorable perspective.
The more understandable for the consumer the goals and objectives of the company, the easier it is to promote its favorable image to the external environment, forming an image. Thus, prerequisites are created for potential and existing customers to follow the company in a direction that is beneficial for it.
A positive image is not only a high-quality advertising and PR campaign that distinguishes an organization from the general mass of competitors in the service market. To do this, the image has certain functions. The responsibilities of specialists working on this area include the task of drawing up an annual action plan, all parts of which reflect this functional process. The organization must be presented to the public as a good partner, a responsible manufacturer of quality goods and a loyal employer.
The work plan is a working tool, but its effectiveness is high only if all its parts are carried out with equal attention. The plan must necessarily reflect the functions of the image.
- Disclosure of the core values of the company. This part of the image implies a clear formulation of the direction of its activities.
- Development of goals for creating a business. This function is to strive for high standards of performance that will benefit not only the firm, but society as a whole.
- Formation of corporate philosophy. Such a function reflects those features of the company that are unique. It has a deep meaning that determines the basis of the entire life of the organization.
- Selection of long-term development plans and ways of their implementation. Knowing the direction of movement, it is easier for the company to navigate the market space, which means that the achievement of its goals will occur clearly and quickly.
- Creation of the concept of behavior and appearance. This part of the image determines the ways in which the organization will achieve compliance with its chosen philosophy, goals and loyalty to its corporate values.
A clear vision of the functions of its image gives the company the opportunity not only to position itself among other market players, but also to assess the situation within itself.
With the help of basic functions, the company’s management can realistically assess the opportunities and the situation that has developed both within the organization and in its environment.
Overview of image types
Elements of perception of the company mainly have a social vector of orientation. With their help, it becomes possible to achieve mutually beneficial work with clients and establish an emotional connection with them.
Besides, a positive image in the business environment allows you to create an equally positive corporate spirit among employees. However, the constituent links of the image will have some features characteristic of a particular area of business activity. For example, for an educational organization, the ability to transfer knowledge and take care of the moral education of students will be important in its reputation, and for a corporation engaged in the production of cars, the image will consist in the reliability and prestige of its products.
The corporate image is conventionally divided into external and internal. Both of these terms are extremely important for the perception of the whole image of the company, which is broadcast to both business partners and its employees.
The perception of the company by the public can be called the external side of the image, which consists of the following components:
- corporate visual style — brand, trademark, logo, corporate colors and symbols;
- the opinion formed by buyers about the quality of goods or services;
- social orientation of the company;
- business reputation.
The external side of the image should be attractive and understandable. Marketers believe that the decision to engage with an organization is 80% dependent on how attractive its external message is.
The situation that develops within the company determines the inner side of its reputation. From how well-coordinated and friendly atmosphere reigns in the organization, its commercial success directly depends. This part of the image consists of the following components:
- the mission of the company and its values for employees, united in such a concept as corporate culture;
- the reputation of persons included in the management team;
- norms of behavior, appearance and interaction of employees with each other.
Improving the external side of the image is impossible without taking into account its internal component. In the process of evolutionary development, reputation can undergo various changes. An organization’s image can be traditional, desirable, real, idealized, updated, positive, and so on.
At a certain time, it will pass from one quality to another or exist simultaneously in several versions.
The company image model has a clear structuring, where all elements are distributed in terms of hierarchy and order.
- Business image. Consists of business reputation and indicators of commercial activity.
- social image. Includes aspects of the company’s social activities.
- External perception of the organization. Contains elements of corporate identity, appearance of employees, design of premises.
- Employee image. It is determined by the competence of the staff, the culture of communication, socio-demographic characteristics.
- internal reputation. It implies corporate culture and psychological climate within the team.
- reputation of the leader. It consists of his appearance, behavioral characteristics, socio-demographic characteristics, education, psychological characteristics.
- The image of the consumer of goods and services of the company. It is determined by the client’s lifestyle, his social status, psychological characteristics.
- Image of goods and services. It consists of the declared value of the goods and service additional services.
The combination of all elements in each organization is unique. Evaluating its parameters from the point of view of a client or business partner, you can clearly see how the company’s image looks in reality — what has been achieved and what should be strived for.
To form a favorable impression of the organization, its employees and services, a set of various tools is used to work with the internal and external image of the company.
Creating an internal corporate image is achieved in the following ways.
- Development of personnel policy. Includes requirements for the education of employees, their professional skills and experience. The organization establishes a certain level of official salaries, staff powers, opportunities for professional growth, penalties and incentives, the possibility of improving skills through training.
- Staff motivation. The program implies a scale of bonuses and additional payments for labor achievements, payment for a certain set of medical services, and sports. For employees of the company organize festive events, sightseeing trips, team games. This approach improves internal communication between people and increases team cohesion.
- Focus on professionalism. Employees of the company are taught the skills of working with clients, conduct trainings to study the properties of the product being sold, instill conscious loyalty to the brand and the company.
Work with personnel plays an important role in the perception of the organization, not only from the inside, but also from the outside. Seeing a friendly climate between employees, customers are much more loyal to solving many commercial issues, as their trust will be high. In addition, each employee performs the function of an external informant, communicating with his relatives, friends and acquaintances.
By talking about how clearly and smoothly his company works, the employee contributes to the fact that a favorable image quickly spreads in the social environment, attracting new commercial partners.
The external reputation of a firm depends on a set of specific programs performed on a regular basis. It is important for a young organization to make itself known and create a favorable impression from the first days of its existence by performing the following actions:
- informing partners and potential customers about the goals and mission of the company by inviting them to thematic events, exhibitions, presentations;
- advertising materials must necessarily contain an emphasis not only on the quality of goods and services, but also emphasize what target audience they are intended for;
- When communicating with clients and the media, it is important to strictly follow the rules of business etiquette, since the first impression can be very difficult to correct later.
After some time, when the company takes its place in the market and is able to gain a foothold there, it is necessary to increase the amount of funding aimed at creating an internal image. This work includes the following key points:
- creation and implementation in the team of certain corporate standards that help maintain the team spirit;
- development of a common style of the office, clothing, communication with each other, which would correspond to accepted corporate standards and the specifics of the company’s activities;
- conducting analytical studies of customer loyalty to the brand, trademark, product and company.
The set of measures is carried out sequentially and takes at least 1.5-2 years from the moment the company was founded.
In the future, with its growth, it will be necessary to expand the zones of influence on the surrounding environment and develop the internal provisions of the corporate culture.
Stages of creation and promotion
Financial costs and a set of measures taken increase as the company grows and develops. When its life cycle is on the way of becoming, the mechanisms that contribute to strengthening the image are as follows:
- creating short-term goals and plans to achieve them;
- according to development plans, a market segment is determined in which further promotion is required;
- development of a brand name, logo and symbols;
- personnel selection and placement of employees, their management to achieve the planned plans;
- conducting analytical research in the field of marketing to identify those aspects of the company’s work, the improvement of which is necessary;
- creation of a client base and performance of work to maintain its relevance.
In parallel with strengthening a positive external image, work is being done to increase employee loyalty:
- traditions are formed in the team, aimed at cohesion and friendly relations between employees;
- an office space or retail outlet is decorated with paraphernalia made in accordance with corporate standards;
- expert research is activated to predict external market conditions and the innovations required from the company in this regard.
When an organization has been able to stand firmly on its feet and fully integrated into the market space, its further positive external image is enhanced by the following actions:
- the emphasis in promotional materials is on the stable operation and growth of the company;
- constant and close communication is maintained with clients;
- booklets or brochures are issued that advertise the company’s technologies or innovations from the standpoint of its achievements;
- company logos are used in all types of communications;
- the first contacts with the public and socially oriented advertising begin.
When an organization becomes fully stable and resistant to market changes, at the stage of its maturity, the internal image is maintained using the following techniques:
- new sales markets are being developed — the business is reaching the regional level, subsidiaries of the company are opening;
- innovative developments are carried out and a test of oneself in new directions that fit into the framework of the company’s concept;
- relationships with clients are set up on a bilateral basis, that is, feedback is expected in the form of a public dialogue.
Steadily growing organizations having gone through the main stages of the life cycle, they can afford to reduce the cost of general advertising, as their brand becomes universally recognizable and it is no longer necessary to promote it as intensively as it was done before. On the contrary, innovative directions will now need advertising.
As for the positive image, it has already been formed and it needs to be kept up to date through public events, charity and socially oriented activities.