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Corporate image management is the control of the messaging a company projects to members of the public to craft positive associations. Companies want consumers to recognize their names and brands, and to think positively of them, whether those positive thoughts tend to affordability, quality, or other characteristics. A variety of tools are available to allow companies to shape and maintain their identities in the public eye, ranging from traditional advertising to social media outreach.
Consultants offer services to companies that need assistance with corporate image management. Part of the process includes projecting a stable, consistent image across a company's projects and services, like using similar branding and design decisions to make products readily identifiable. Employees throughout a company also may need to receive training in corporate image management and control so they know how to behave on the phone, in meetings, and in other settings where they represent their employers to members of the public.
Advertising campaigns can set the tone in the marketplace, to get consumers thinking about a company and building up specific associations with its products and services. Companies also work with franchisers, distributors, and other partners to keep their image consistent. If a company wants to be known primarily for quality, for example, it doesn't want to see its products used in campaigns focusing on affordability, because it may not want consumers associating its products with cheapness. Likewise, companies that build up reputations for fast, honest service expect this of partners who sell and use their products.
Another aspect of corporate image management can include identifying and responding to bad press. This can include everything from unfavorable reports in the media to hostile reviews online. Companies can use measures like press releases, social media campaigns, viral advertising, and meetings with the press to increase positive press and rehabilitate their image. They can also behave proactively to build up positive relationships with the community; for example, a manufacturer of snack foods might keep an eye out for references to its products on social media, and randomly send free samples to influential people who praise its foods.
Periodically, companies may decide that they want to change a corporate image. This could be a response to negative publicity where it becomes apparent that negative associations will be hard to shake, or because a company is shifting direction and its old image no longer fits. Careful corporate image management is critical to help the company move smoothly from one identity to another while retaining customers, creating positive associations, and avoiding negative publicity during the transition.