In the late 80s, a brash young tennis sensation burst onto the scene with his aggressive play, and striking looks. Clad in Neon Green and Grey shorts with the shirt and shoes to match; this mulleted (is that a word) tennis sensation became the “rebel” of tennis. Up until that point, tennis players wore solid white from head to toe. Canon immediately signed Andre Agassi as their spokesman for the Rebel EOS 35mm camera with the tag line: “Image is Everything.” Fast forward 20 years: Andre Agassi informs the world that the hair, the image, and other things about him were a facade. Shocking the world with his story about his battles with addiction, baldness, and his hatred of the game of tennis.
A true image is a hard thing to portray in this day and age. And to top it off, that image is no longer solely controlled by us. Maybe it never was.
So what is image? For companies, it is the perception the general public has of your company. In a time when social media is so prevalent, that image is created by companies, but it is often verified or refuted by the public.
So how does a company create its image? This may come as a surprise (although it really shouldn’t considering it is true of individuals as well) but here goes: BE YOURSELF. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. With respect. That’s a good starting point anyways. Image is the belief that someone has about you/your company based on their experiences. These beliefs lead to actions (or inactions) that produce results (I’m not sure who to credit for that. I learned about this while working with Pfizer–The BEAR Model). You can go on TV and tell people you deliver pizzas in 30 minutes all you want, but if you are consistently arriving in 35 minutes, that is your true image.
Your image will also vary from person-to-person. You can ensure a more consistent image by providing quality products and services that you stand behind 100%. Having a positive attitude towards your customers and employees. Providing excellent customer service. The list goes on. From value to values, so many things can make or break your image. Still you must remember that your image is be perceived differently by individuals based on their experiences with you, your company, or even your industry (think about politicians, attorneys, salespeople, etc.).
You can lend a helping hand to your image by connecting with your customers. Today more than ever, your image campaign should be a collaborative effort between your company and your customers. Some examples are working with charities (not just cutting a check) related to your industry, attending trade shows, attending networking events, and interacting on social media sites. Handle conflict promptly. Go out of your way to help a customer/prospect/stranger. If you are not sure what your image is, ask. Your loyal customers will tell you. Guess what? The customers who have fired you will tell you also.
What are you doing to boost your corporate image?