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What is the difference between corporate image and corporate reputation?

Feb / 2018 by
5 0
What is the difference between corporate image and corporate reputation?

Both the corporate image and corporate reputation reflect how the public perceives a corporation. But even though they are closely related terms, they are not interchangeable. Especially for corporate and marketing communication professionals, it is imperative to understand how a company’s image and reputation are built, and how these two concepts impact companies.

Corporate image versus corporate reputation

As Manto Gotsi and Alan Wilson (2001) explain, there are no unambiguous, generally accepted definitions for the terms corporate image and corporate reputation. Nonetheless, in recent literature there appears to be greater support for the differentiated school of thought, which considers the concepts of corporate image and corporate reputation to be interrelated, as opposed to interchangeable.

The corporate image can generally be described as what comes to the public’s mind when hearing a company’s name or seeing its logo. This corporate image is built by companies through well-conceived communication campaigns. Thus, whether a company has a favorable or unfavorable image depends on what the company communicates to the outside world, and how effectively it does that.

The corporate reputation refers to the public’s overall estimation of a company’s performance and attributes over time. Unlike the corporate image, a corporate reputation is earned through (long-term) consistent performance, reinforced by effective communication. Since corporate reputation is built over time, it has a relatively more stable and enduring nature than the corporate image.

Whether a company has a positive or negative reputation depends on a number of factors, such as whether the business delivers on its promises, is transparent, trustworthy, and responsive. Corporate reputations, however, are also largely dependent on the everyday images that people form of an organization.

Why should you care?

Maintaining a positive image and reputation is fundamental to the profitability, relevance, and existence of a business. Main benefits of having a strong image and reputation include:

  1. Improving the customer’s perception of the quality of the company’s products or services, allowing the company to charge premium prices.
  2. Raising the morale of employees and therefore productivity.
  3. Improving the capacity of hiring and retaining qualified staff.
  4. Protecting the value of the company by diminishing the impact of scrutinizing, crisis and/or competitive attacks.
  5. Differentiating the company from its competitors and establishing better market positioning.
  6. Attracting a greater number of investors, hereby raising the company’s market value and diminishing risks for the organization.

Conclusion

To conclude, the terms corporate image and corporate reputation are widely used interchangeably, causing confusion amongst corporate and marketing communication professionals. As recent literature demonstrates, the concepts are related but achieved in different manners: The image of a company is largely built by effective communication programs, whereas a company’s reputation is mainly earned over time.

Knowing the essential benefits positive images and reputations bring to organizations, it is crucial that senior management manages the company’s identity and communication systems effectively in order to develop and maintain a recognizable image and a favorable reputation.

Icons in the image were made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com.

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