In an ever increasingly competitive business market, a great amount of emphasis is being placed on brand image development as the major determinant for selling products to buyers and consumers. Advertising plays an important factor in creating and establishing a brand image. This is more prevalent in the corporate market which can be dog-eat-dog at times. Advertising lets consumers know of the organic capabilities of the brand while at the same time, spreads the brand or product around with iconic values and meanings that the consumer or buyer is looking for.
Corporations are after a gambit of items such as more money and a broader network. However, the main goal and purpose of corporate advertising is not only to sell a product or service, but rather to promote an idea or image. For a corporate advertising team, getting the brand and corporate image out to the masses is often times just as good as a sale. The more familiar the public is and the more times a consumer hears or reads about a product, the more likely they are to remember it when it comes time to purchase a similar product. This paper will deal with the importance of image and corporate advertising as well as roles and responsibilities of corporate advertising, strategies, and effectiveness of image and advertising. These facets of advertising directly reflect the purpose of advertising along with the effects and on consumer persuasion. Importance of Image
Years ago, the soft drink company Sprite ran an ad campaign in both television and print that stated, “Image is nothing, thirst is everything.” The idea of the campaign was to downplay the importance of brands and corporate advertising and just go with your instincts on a soft drink beverage choice. Yet Sprite always proudly displayed their “lemon-lime” image on the television commercial or in magazine ads acting as a complete contradiction and subliminal “image is everything” campaign. Corporate image is very important and plays a large part in a company’s overall success and outlook for future endeavors. Corporate image is a mental snapshot that comes to one’s mind whenever a company’s name is mentioned (Boudreau, 2006). For example, corporate image could be a company’s brand or logo. Images such as Sprite’s yellow- lemon- green- lime overlapped, McDonalds Golden arches and MasterCard’s: yellow and red circles halfway overlapped. How corporate image comes into play is that these same mental images that a consumer has are constantly changing depending on how the company is performing in public (Osman, 2008). Area’s such as media coverage, performance, and pronouncements play large factors in how the company image is perceived. A company’s corporate image is best compared to a reputation (Heath, 1986). It is all about how the public perceives the company rather than a reflection of how the company is doing fiscally.
This same public perception can swing back and forth from positive to negative sometimes overnight and can continue down this path for the company’s entire existence. A great example of this would be the image of the Apple Computer Corporation. The corporate image for Apple has had extreme highs and lows over the past 30 years. Despite being a constant successful and innovative company, a large corporation such as Apple is still not immune to a consumer’s wants, needs, and opinions. In a tale of two corporations, the one with the best corporate image will be the victor. This is what is known as having the advantage of corporate identity. In order to obtain this advantage, businesses are working harder than ever to preserve and refine their corporate image. Companies know that if they focus their time and money on their image, consumers will stick with or switch to their brand (Pomering, 2009). This deciding factor could be the make or break in their industry. Another advantage to corporate image is publicity. In recent statistics, there has been a 40% increase in corporate image advertising on television of the past year (Pomering, 2009).
The reason for this large increase is due to corporations in the media and their ties to greed, corruption, and inconsistencies. Companies like BP Oil have had to bear witness to what it is like to not have the advantage of a good corporate image. Over the past year involving the BP oil spill, their corporate image has dwindled, resulting in a decline of sales and market value. Businesses taking advantage of corporate image are aiming to reassure customers as well as convert new customers to the intended perception of their product. Now that the economy is starting to turn around and pick up again, consumers are buying more and have more disposable income. With this growth in the economy, businesses are paying more attention to the quality of their corporate image than ever before. The advantage to this is that when a consumer is ready to spend their hard- earned money on a product, they will do so with a company that has a great reputation (Sheinin, 1999). With so many brands and products available in today’s market, the average customer wants to know that who they are buying from is of quality name and service.
Companies such as Hero Motor Corp, an Indian car manufacturer, say that corporate image is not only important, but necessary to sell products such as two-wheelers. “For a category such as ours, there is more involvement on behalf of the customers. Hence, they need more assurance and tend to see the company from closer quarters”, says Anil Dua (Wang, 2008, pg 1). By focusing on corporate image, companies are able to ensure a consumer base that is more loyal and stable (Wang, 2008). This advantage is one that allows corporations to grow responsibly and ultimately financially as well. Building up your corporate image is not an easy task. The process can be challenging and difficult along the way. One of the major challenges to keeping up your corporate image is communicating your message, as a business, to the consumer. Trying to convince a customer what your values and purpose are as a company and even as a product can be challenging and taxing for your bank account. Consumers are asking questions to corporations in regards to their philosophy, stance on sustainability, and what, if any, is the company’s contribution to society (Hill, 1984).
These things are important to the consumer these days. Consumers are striving to be more eco-friendly. That and the ease of communication thanks to advances in technology can really make or break a company without having to leave the comfort of their own home. Another big challenge in beefing up corporate image is money. In order to convey your message as a company, you have to spend the money to get the message and image of the company out to the masses. Television commercials, newspaper ads, magazine spots, and billboards are all great way to mass communicate what your business image is all about. Once a company can get these tasks accomplished they would likely think that it would be enough, but it is not. It is important to keep this cycle going, constantly in the eyes and ears of the public and letting them know that your business has not left the scene and that you are still a viable and resurgent corporation. These days, managers and CEO’s who want their companies to be loved by consumers, or at least respected for their works, are spending unbelievable amounts of money to lure in and wow customers and investors (Pitt, 2006).
Some experts and officials would say that building up a strong corporate image is a huge waste of time, even if the image being displayed is accurate in the account of what the company is really like. However, back in 1985 alone, no fewer than 1,041 corporations and businesses underwent a name change according to Anspach Grossman Portugal, a New York “identity-change” consulting firm (Reisman, 1989). A good example would be the Adolph Coors Co. and their “Getting together with America” image. This ad was ran in newspapers and television spots that focused on the “hardworking American” heroic democratic values. This ad is in response to the 20 month strike by calling a worker election that resulted in the decertification of the AFL-CIO at the brewery in Golden, Colorado. The Adolph Coors Co. spent 165 million dollars on ads that year in order to revamp their image in the eyes of the consumer (Beracs, 2003). This is a prime example of what corporations must do to stay on top of their competitors and keep businesses moving in the right direction. So, sorry Sprite but, “image IS everything”. Corporate Advertising
Aldous Huxely, a famous philosopher, once said, “Trying to sell something to someone who does not want to buy it is the hardest task for any creative individual” (Patti, 2007). Welcome to corporate advertising. Corporations spend millions of dollars a year not trying to sell a product, but rather trying to sell the idea of the product (Adams, 2004). The “idea” is placed on the advertising team to create and build the corporate or product image. This is the basics of corporate advertising. Any paid use of a medium that will not only benefit the image of the corporation as an entirety, rather than only focusing on products or services, is good corporate advertising. Often time’s people will misinterpret corporate advertising and product advertising. Whereas one may benefit or hurt the other, they are separate entities. All of a company’s advertising prowess is focused on the betterment of the corporation’s image, which in turn should reflect the products themselves. These two factors should act as a unifying front so that corporate advertising brands the companies persona in the forefront of the consumer.
The main objectives to corporate advertising are simple: make the company more successful. Success does not necessarily mean more money, but it never hurts! One of the most popular strategies in the corporate advertising objective is to reinforce the corporation’s image and to build a stronger reputation amongst peers and consumers. Businesses will use corporate advertising to strengthen their identity right after a large structural change has occurred (Eagle, 2000). When businesses get bigger and take on new clients, contracts, and customers, they need to explain their new developments within the company like vision statements and strategies for the future to investors and other constituents that may not be completely on board with the new changes. This is where corporate advertising comes into play and simplifies the company’s image in order to unify a group’s outlook on the company’s business. As stated before, the main objective of corporate advertising is an increase of sales. This cannot be achieved unless total confidence and support are present after new changes and challenges have occurred. Corporate advertising is often met with strenuous challenges.
One of the most common challenges to corporate advertising is having a good mix with corporate brand and product brand advertising. Product brand managers and corporate brand counterparts are often at each others throats over the advertising budget and which is more important in concern to the allocation of funds (Zinkhan, 1993). With the economy being down, many businesses have had to spend far less on one that the other causing riffs within the corporation. In order to alleviate this strain, many companies are overlapping the two entities by stamping product messages over corporate brands. New research from Gabriel Biehal, associate professor of marketing at Smith and Daniel Sheinin, University of Rhode Island, shows that there are great efficiencies in corporate branding advertising when multiple products are involved (Zhang, 2010). These types of challenges, if met with the right strategy, can be both effective and profitable if conducted in the correct manor. Strategy
When building a strong corporate image, having a strategy is crucial to success as a business. There is a reason that Werther’s Originals have never had any bad press… they have a strong reputation. Building a strong corporate image involves maintaining a stronger reputation (Garbett, 1984). Good corporate advertising has the ability to create goodwill and expound upon the company’s reputation by getting the investors and other constituents in on what is going on with the business ventures. One thing in particular is if it lets these same people know of beneficial and potentially prosperous ventures that the public is not aware of. Keeping good communication practices with investors and constituents will aid in maintaining that strong reputation amongst peers and consumers alike. Another strategy for building a strong corporate image through advertising is recruitment and retention of employees. This kind of advertising is an indirect way of uplifting employee morale (Grass, 1977). Corporate advertising such as this attracts the best and most skilled talent from the lowest position, to the highest administrative position. Once you have enthusiasm and excitement in the workplace, you have opened your corporate advertising department up to unlimited possibilities. Effectiveness of Image and Corporate Advertising
Image and Corporate advertising, together, can put a company not only in the forefront of consumers’ minds, but can guarantee greater income and profits for the corporation. Investors play a large role in how far and long corporate advertising can keep bolstering a company’s image. However, if the corporate advertising is done effectively, corporate advertising can attract new and profitable investors. This is a tool used by businesses to improve and enhance their image in the financial community (Galli, 1973). Advertising such as this can spark an interest in a company’s stock and assets in terms of potential investors as well as buy and sell analysts. The more investors a business has, the more money they have to spend on corporate advertising and building up the corporate image. As seen in previous research, keeping a strong corporate image takes millions of dollars and is an ongoing endeavor (Patsioura, 2009). The minute a company stops, a competitor can sway the public and consumer opinion.
Another side effect of effective corporate advertising and strong image is advertising to influence opinions (Medcalf, 2008). If a company is well known but is without a voice, consumers and investors may tend to come up with their own opinion about the company and what they stand for. Issue or advocacy advertising is used by large corporations to respond to external threats from both governmental and special interest groups (Boyd, 1981). This type of advertising comes into play when there are controversial subjects on the table. A great example of this in action is the company Waste Management Inc. Waste Management Inc. got into trouble years ago for dumping illegal toxic waste (Himanshu, 2008). There is no way to erase what has been done in the past, but the public and investors love to see a turn-around story and that a business can change for the better. Waste Management Inc. hired an advocacy advertising firm to perform an environmentally conscious television commercial in order to help change their image.
Company’s need these types of services often to help bolster them past a competitor or to help dig themselves out of ruts that the business side of the corporation has gotten into. In doing this the company or business is trying to show its target audience that they are involved in not only community, but national community as a citizen of both. Weather it is advocacy advertising or different approaches, all forms of corporate advertising are related to the company’s image. Corporate advertising is concerned with projecting an image that shows consumers that they are concerned, caring, and involved members of the community (Coors, 2005). This type of advertising has become a vital element to how corporations allow the public to perceive them and keep up their image as a business and vested in the community. If companies such as Waste Management Inc. are able to portray themselves as a company that cares about the environment, community, and their employers, they will be able to keep up their corporate image and maintain a strong reputation. Conclusion
Image in corporate advertising carries the belief that there is no tangible reality and that consumers buy and sell in their areas of perception. Image represents one of the most important factors of human understanding. This is found to be the most true in the image of corporate advertising. Images at every level of marketing have, at some point, taken on an increased importance. Technological advances and data streaming have made corporations more susceptible to public findings. That is why corporations have become obsessive about public perceptions of their business dealings, making a company’s “brand” more or less desirable.
Through the various types of corporate advertising, businesses have found themselves better equipped to handle crises as long as there is an advertising firm willing to campaign for them. Increased emphasis on image in marketing can be chalked up to efficiency, effectiveness, and the ability to spend as much money as it takes for the average consumer to take notice of the business. As a corporation, there are responsibilities to the consumer and to investors that have to be met in order to succeed. Maintaining a strong corporate image and keeping an up-to-date advertising program will help fulfill these responsibilities. If these roles and responsibilities are met, a business’s image will have a better chance of succeeding in the future and have room to grow.
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