Creating a corporate image or identity is one of the most important undertakings of a company today.  The image of any corporation helps determine that corporation’s customers.  Bernstein (1998) points out “even if a company chooses not to communicate, its audience will still form an opinion of it, so the only course of action is a planned and proactive communication strategy” (P. 25).

Creating and maintaining the most appropriate image for a company means undertaking what type of corporate image will serve the company best, and then knowing how to create or reinforce that particular image (Westberg, 1994, P. 280).

A study of the literature finds many different perspectives on corporate image.  Bromdey (1993) defines corporate image as corporate reputation (P. 300).  This denotes a more personal aspect of corporate image.  Roberts (2000) takes a simpler approach when defining image and identity.  Roberts states that your identity is who you really are and your image is how much of that reality people understand.  Hook (1999) gives a more comprehensive definition of corporate image. Hook defines corporate image as, “The cumulative effect of all visual elements that represent a company, and leaves the very first impression” (P. 281).

The term reputation usually refers to individuals.  This brings up another point that is vital to defining a corporate image.  The focus audience of any corporate advertising or image campaign is people.  The ability to influence individual thinking can determine whether or not an image campaign is successful.

In a roundtable discussion of CEOs, published in Chief Executive Magazine (Donlan, 1998), all the members present agreed that a good reputation can serve as a kind of a capital account of stored trust.  According to a survey of upscale customers conducted by Yankalovich Partners of New York (as citied in Donlan, 1998), 58% of those surveyed are likely to buy products from a “winning” company versus 18% who would do so from “non-winners.”  Steve Miller (as cited in Donlan, 1998), chairman and CEO of Waste Management, at this writing, believes that on every front, from sales to customers, dealing with suppliers, recruitment, retention of employees, fending off regulators, and pleasing your financial stakeholders, it is infinitely more difficult if you do not have a reputation behind you.  In a 1997 study conducted by New York University’s Stern School of Business (as cited in Donlan, 1998), corporations with a good reputation have a rate of profitability in excess of the industry average.  These examples show the vital role that corporate reputation plays in a company’s success.  A company’s reputation can be established in the public’s eye by the success or failure of their advertising choices.

In today’s marketplace, advertising campaigns are becoming the means by which company’s compete to win customers.  This can be accomplished by producing the types of advertising campaigns that are eye-catching to the public and make them remember the company’s products or services and make them stand out from the competition.

It is important to distinguish between image advertising and product advertising.  This study will concentrate on the development of campaigns and the advertising related to a corporate image, not the promotion of a product or products.

Corporate image is a reflection of an organization’s reality, or how an organization is viewed by its constituencies or publics (Argenti, 1998).  The promotion of a product includes branding and the launching of that specific product to the public.

A company may produce many products, and the types of products or services provided by an organization are part of what defines that organization’s corporate image.  While there are clear differences between the two types of promotion, the two are interconnected.  The image of a company can determine whether or not a trust is developed between a company and potential customers, and whether that trust can possibly develop product loyalty.  This trust depends upon the development and maintenance of a certain corporate image.

In this study, the researcher will attempt to provide a clear perspective on corporate image and illustrate success through examples of image campaigns initiated by major companies in Nigeria and beyond.  The lack of effectiveness in some campaigns will be described as well in an attempt to explain why certain strategies might fail.






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