Corporate identity and corporate image

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This article describes corporate identity and corporate image, two important terms in marketing and communication.

What is a corporate image?

What are the qualities a company is recognised for? Corporate image encompasses the perception that a target group has over a certain company. An example: for a large group of consumers Apple is known as Trendy and Hip. Another part of the market has the preference for android smartphones instead and thinks differently about Apple. This group, on the contrary, will think of qualities such as Closed or Old-fashioned. Apple’s image is thus modern and hip for a target group but then also closed and old-fashioned for another target group. Image is built by the sum of marketing communications from a company and the interpretation by the receivers. That is why there is also a distinction between actual image and desired image.

Actual Image

Actual image is what the receiver thinks about a company.

Desired Image

Desired image is what the company would like to be seen. A company tries to achieve the desired image through marketing communication (such as by advertisement).

What is corporate identity?

Besides a corporate image, a business also has a corporate identity and this contains all external and internal qualities of the organisation. Corporate identity is strategic and contains values of what the business is and would like to be in the future. They are core values that the whole company is immersed in. Business policy is harmonised with these values and it would also like to reflect these values in the image. Through marketing communication, an attempt is made to reflect the identity in the target group’s head: Image.

Here also stands a distinction between actual identity and desired identity.

Actual Identity

Actual identity is what the company is in practice.

Desired Identity

Desired identity is what the company would like to be.

Conclusion: Distinction between image and identity

Corporate identity is potentially the core values of a business. Corporate image is potentially how the target group thinks about a business. A company attempts to translate the identity into the image by using marketing communication such as advertisement. Sometimes the desired identity agrees with the desired image while in other cases this is not true and one attempts to improve it until it is so. The problem may lie on the side of the identity. In that case, factors within the organisation must be adjusted such as informing the employees or changing the organisation. On the other side, the image can not match due to the target group’s incorrect perception. In that case, there is a mistake in marketing communication and it is important to, for example, change the message of the advertising output.

About the author

Edwin Muilwijk

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