Keywords: CORPORATE IMAGE
INTRODUCTION: An organization that dreams to grow, survive, make a profit, and has a good reputation, must build, refine, polish, and maintain its corporate image especially in this globalization and competitive business climate, such company must not toy with its corporate image because it goes a long way to glue the company with its various stakeholders especially the consumers. For a non-profit organization, corporate image enhances its credibility and secures more sponsors (Allison, n.d).
However, Kyurova and Yaneva (2017) noted that for an organization to secure a competitive edge in a business environment, such a company must endeavour to create a high level of trust among consumers/customers. Building a positive image is a prerequisite for businesses to enhance their competitiveness.
According to Gray and Balmer (2008), corporate reputation is a lens through which the public sees an organization that must appear flawless, corporate image is the mental image of a company held by its publics, or what comes to mind when one sees or hears the company’s name or sees its logo. It denotes the value placed on the company by its publics.
It should be noted that corporate is associated with the behaviour and profile of a company (Olins, 2003), it also defines the company’s relations between stakeholders and consumers (Brun, 2002). In this respect, Kyurova and Yaneva (2017) cited in Jones and Sasser (1995) emphasized that consumer behaviour correlates with loyalty to the company. Moreover, the image relates to the way stakeholders, not only perceive, but also interpret their experience, beliefs, and values of the organization (Wood, 2001).
Also, an organization that has attained growth such as Dangote Group of companies needs to polish and maintain its reputation; so that, various publics will positively talk about it. According to Donna, (2008), corporate image is a soft-selling mechanism for manufacturing companies. However, good corporate image serves an organization in so many ways; it fosters brand loyalty, it eliminates fear in the mind of shareholders and prospective shareholders. It facilitates corporate growth, it leads to high turnover, etc while a poor image will equally lead to the opposite.
Thus, corporate image plays a prominent role in customer satisfaction and in influencing customers’ willingness to lay trust in the company (Kyurova & Yaneva, 2017). Allison (n.d), was of view that corporate image increases exposure and awareness of the organization, acquire supporters, and legitimize brand for non-profit organization, adding that corporate image for manufacturing company helps the company to improve brand perception, attract new customers and increase employees satisfaction.
Meanwhile, an organization with good corporate image (reputation) will have its products, services or activities perceived well by the outsiders and other stakeholders especially in a competitive business climate. According to Oluwasola and Fasami (2018), a good corporate image communicates positively to customers, shareholders, the financial community, and the general public at large, adding that a company that mismanages or ignores its corporate image is likely to encounter a variety of problems.
Moreover, as the common proverb says, “a good name is better than silver and diamond,” implying that, if one or an organization has a good reputation, excellent image, and integrity; it may be entrusted with many good things, which can improve the organization successes. To a business organization, a good name is a soft selling tool (Donna, 2008) which is why some individual pay a lot of money to buy a franchise of another reputed company because they know that within a shortest time that investment will bring much return.
Corporate image cannot be effectively addressed with the first talk about public relations because the biggest burden of corporate image rest on the shoulder of public relations person, unit, or department. Therefore, public relations is one of the concept that is not having a universal definition because scholars and experts in the field have seen public relations from different angles especially based on the activities and what public relations does in an organisation. It is called the Public Affairs department or unit, Public and media relations department, Information department, Public Information Affairs, etc.
Public relations have been defined in various ways but few popular and acceptable ones include that of the British Institute of Public Relations (IBPR) who defines public relations “as a deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its public”. Also, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) cited in Uduji (2012) defines public relations as a distinctive management function which helps to establish and maintain mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance and operation between an organization and its pubic”
Again, the International Public Relations Association of Mexico in North America cited in Uduji (2012) defined public relation as the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizations leaders and implementing planned programs of action which serve both the organization and the public interest.
It is obvious that the work of public relations is needed in almost every society such as, profit and non-profit organization. In fact, individuals in society also need the service of public relations, especially those individuals that are professionals or experts such as musicians, politicians, and others.it is obvious that the core functions of the public relations lies in the building and maintaining good relations with organisations’ public through effective communication and other good activities which will in turn lead to good corporate image.
It is also obvious that one re-occurring keyword in all the definitions is the “public” (internal and external) meaning that the success of every organization rest on good relation, reputation which can be easily achieved through corporate image, because when a company is trusted, people will not hesitate to deal with it.