April 24, 2013 by collemar
By Marco Colle, MSc in Management Consulting 3 student
“The personal impression counts”. How many times have we experienced this ourselves? I am certain we can remember several positive and negative situations in our private and professional lives. However, we usually start talking about image only when it has already been damaged. For that reason, it would make sense to think about the consequences beforehand. This blog post aims to show organizations how they can build a strong corporate image, based on a booklet written by Knaus (2004).
An authentic image is not only conveyed through words, but also through personal behavior; it is our perception of reality and it influences our actions. We have to be aware that impulses can be sent consciously as well as unconsciously and will be interpreted by the receiver individually. Nevertheless, there are codes with a general validity that we can use to help convey a certain image. For that reason organizations have to take care of what image they convey to their employees because they will carry that image to their customers. The importance of such an image is shown in a study conducted in the computer industry where customers were interviewed about why they changed from one particular brand to another. A large majority, 68% of these customers, did not change brands because of the specifications, or because there was something technically lacking, but because of the personal behavior of the customer service representative (Erlhoff, Mager and Manzini, 1997).
According to Knaus (2004) there are several ways an organization can strengthen its corporate image. I have listed below the six factors which in my opinion are the most important ones:
- Corporate Culture: Core values must be defined, understandable, and realizable as every employee should be able to live those values.
- Internal and External Customers: They have to be on an equal footing; both should equally feel appreciated as customers. Do not distinguish between them and treat one better than the other. Be honest and consistent in how you treat customers.
- Internal and External Information Style: The company should have an open and transparent style when informing internal and external stakeholders.
- Communication Style: “C’est le ton qui fait la musique.” How you communicate with your stakeholders is extremely important. You need to be consistent in the style used (word choice, style of writing letters and emails, how you talk on the phone etc.).
- Corporate Philosophy and Vision: You have to work out a clear and simple vision/philosophy that will be understood by every employee.
- Engagement for the Community: Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives are gaining in importance and are requested more and more by customers.
If you follow these six points, your organization will be able to build a strong corporate image and your employees will become active image-makers of the company. An active relationship with internal and external customers can be built and your company will increase its value.
Knaus, E., (2004). Your corporate identity: Der persönliche Eindruck entscheidet. HRM-Dossier, Vol. 9
Erlhoff, M., Mager, B. and Manzini, E., (1997). Dienstleistung braucht Design. Munich: Luchterhand