The two terms, company image and corporate reputation, are often used interchangeably. But there is a very fine line separating them that many organizations fail to realize. Though nearly the same, there is a minute difference between image and reputation. Your corporate image is how your brand makes people feel.
For instance, a brand like Disney may make people feel happy, childlike, and stress-free. That is their corporate or brand image. The brand image is generally formed by the products that the company offers and the marketing tactics that it uses to attract the audience.
Corporate reputation, on the other hand, is formed based on several factors. Apart from products and services it also involves the leadership behind the company, the attitude of employees, social responsibility, the ethics that the company shows, and much more. Corporate reputation is how people holistically perceive your company.
There are, of course, similarities between corporate image and corporate reputation too. Both image and reputation influence how people see your company and impact their purchase decisions. But having said that, a company image is more of the idea people form in their minds about your company based on the visual and emotional appeal of the brand. Whereas, your corporate reputation is what you build over the years through diligent research and strategy.
Company image vs corporate reputation
Company image is mostly associated with customers. A band image is formed by the company’s marketing efforts that try to build brand recognition among the target customer base. It is defined by the customer experience that your brand delivers.
If your company has been able to create a favorable brand image, it is likely customers will keep coming back to you as long as they can relate to the brand image.
Corporate reputation, however, does not only focus on customers. It also seeks to influence other stakeholders of your business. Reputation is built through years of responsible and reliable service.
Corporate reputation can be built based on financial stability and work ethics, which are more crucial factors for partners and investors. Or it can be related to work ethics and inclusivity, in which case it will attract employees to your company. So, corporate reputation is the perception of all your partners, employees, regulatory bodies, community, customers, and media. This perception does not come from the visual or emotional elements that you use in your branding. It rather comes from the values, opinions, and beliefs that you share.
Despite these differences, company image and company reputation can have significant impacts on each other.
Impact of company image on corporate reputation
There are instances when a company lost its image but the corporate reputation lived on. Or when a company’s corporate reputation was tarnished but they still kept going owing to their image. Both company image and corporate reputation can influence outcomes.
Let us consider the example of Johnson & Johnson here. A few years back, the pharmaceutical and consumer goods company was sued by a customer for using carcinogenic materials in its talcum powders. This incident took a huge toll on the company’s corporate image and they also ended up paying a massive sum in the lawsuit settlement.
But the brand image of Johnson & Johnson in many countries, particularly developing ones, as the only global brand of baby products continues to live on. Because of this, the company still has a significant market share in these countries despite the serious allegations against it.
This is an example where company image has been able to cover up for company reputation. There are several examples like this where company image and corporate reputation have saved a business from becoming obsolete.
Consider the men’s Fragrance brand Old Spice as another example. Old Spice had almost lost its hold on consumers in the late 2000s despite being a more than 80-year-old brand. It was seen as a fragrance for older men and new entrants into the market seemed to appeal more to the younger generation. But in 2010, the company decided to change its brand image and ride on the corporate reputation it already had.
They released a men’s body wash with a very catchy advertisement, portraying the fragrance as what men should smell like. This rebranding boosted the company’s sales by almost 27%. Old Spice already had a stable corporate reputation, all they needed was a brand image transformation.
How to improve company image through online reputation management?
Online reputation management can go a long way in changing or enhancing your company image. Today, most of the things that people see, hear, and read about your company are on online platforms. Managing your reputation on these channels can significantly impact your company image as well.
Find out the negative aspects of your company image
The first step in corporate reputation management online is to assess where you stand. During this initial assessment of your current corporate reputation, you can also identify if there are any negative sides to your company image. Monitor what people are talking about related to your brand. If you do find any negative comments, you will have to figure out a way to improve these aspects of your image.
Engage your audience
Both company image and corporate reputation management require you to engage with your audience. By responding to their comments on social media, thanking them for their reviews, and answering their queries, you are building a reputation as a responsible business. But at the same time, you are also transforming your company image in the eyes of consumers to one that is more responsive and caring.
Share more content
Another way of transforming your company/brand image in the eyes of your customers is by establishing yourself as an authority in your field. As part of online corporate reputation management, you are required to create and publish quality content that ranks you higher in search results. This same content, if found valuable by your audience, can enhance your company image.
Though having different connotations, company image and corporate reputation work together to ensure a better future for your business. Knowing how to use one to benefit the other can be very helpful in the long run. It is also important to focus on the right question in image and reputation consulting.
A good online reputation management service in Miami can show you exactly how corporate reputation management improved your company image simultaneously. By addressing the right areas, an online reputation management service can protect your corporate reputation and help your company image evolve with the changing needs of consumers.