In 2019, Contently, a content marketing software company that connects freelancers with corporate brands, made one controversial move – To increase profitability and give their freelancers more creative options, the company announced that they will be charging freelancers a mandatory service fee for every job they book.
As you may already know, the response hasn’t been great. Many freelancers have written to the company stating that the fee could hurt their earning potential or even end their professional careers.
Fortunately, the feedback from freelancers didn’t go unnoticed or wasn’t rewarded. As a result of the honest feedback, Joe Coleman, CEO of Contently, announced via Twitter that the company had decided not to introduce the new service fee.
Contently’s realization that they weren’t prioritizing their customers’ needs ultimately helped save – and even improve – their corporate image.
Here, let’s examine what corporate image is and why it matters. There are also five ways you can strengthen your own corporate image today.
What is the corporate image?
The corporate image of your company is the public perception of your brand. You can help shape it by telling the public what kind of company you are through marketing and advertising.
However, what really shapes your corporate image are the actions your company takes, e.g. B. financial performance, developing innovative products and services, following ethical business practices, actually adhering to your values, responding appropriately to company criticism, providing excellent customer service and treating your employees with dignity, and attracting respect and elite talent.
All of these actions promote the flywheel of word-of-mouth marketing of your brand. This is the most effective and trusted form of marketing, especially when the internet has made it possible for any brand to shout for your audience’s attention today.
Developing a great corporate image also opens up more opportunities for customer testimonials, case studies, product reviews, and awards that can provide the social evidence needed to gain the trust of new customers.
Why corporate image is more important than ever
Today, most people support brands that share the same values as them.
In fact, brand equity is often a critical factor in a person’s purchase decision. For example, 83% of millennials think it’s important to buy from companies that are aligned with their values.
In addition, Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s leading public relations firm, found that global leaders have attributes on average 63% of their company’s market value for their company’s overall reputation.
Most likely you already know this on a quantitative level. For example, imagine the last time you bought a product or service for which you could have found a cheaper alternative.
Perhaps you’ve bought a new iPhone or put on the Patagonia jacket you’ve wanted for a while.
Ultimately, you likely made this buying decision based, at least in part, on the brand’s reputation and overall image.
This is why corporate image is important – it can have an impact on whether consumers want to buy from you and increase brand loyalty if people feel your values align with their own.
Next, let’s examine how you can improve your own corporate image.
How to improve the corporate image
1. Identify the purpose of your company.
If you really want to build a loyal following for your brand and thereby build your reputation, your core business message should be focused on your purpose – not how you make your product or what your product is.
However, this notion that people are buying the “why” behind your organization – not the “what” or “how” – is not just an idealistic trend that is catching on fire in today’s business world. It is actually rooted in human biology.
The most original part of the brain is called the limbic system and controls all decisions. It also controls all of our emotions and feelings. So when you resonate with your audience, that will also appeal to the part of the brain that is responsible for the action. In other words, if you can evoke emotion, you can drive behavior forward.
When you convey a clear and compelling purpose through all of your brand’s actions, it creates the emotional connection necessary to convince an audience to support you. And the more people you support, the stronger your reputation will be.
2. Make sure you can go the way.
Sometimes brands looking to receive the rewards of an enterprise-focused company don’t stick to the values they claim are so passionate about. But while an aquasi-mission-driven company can attract new customers, once they expose your hypocrisy, it’s nearly impossible to keep them.
A psychology study at Yale suggests that highlighting your morals is essentially a shortcut to high status. But when people realize that you don’t have the qualities that shot you up the social ladder, they lose faith in you and react harshly to your deception.
Before you boast about your company’s commitment to putting the customer first, make sure that your actions are actually aligned with these values, or that you have a plan for them.
3. Own your flaws.
Even the brightest brands make mistakes. But what sets the big companies apart from the good ones is their ability to admit they are wrong and change course in the face of new information. Unfortunately, many companies do not admit their mistakes or change their minds, even if it is the right choice because they are too proud or do not want to appear weak.
However, admitting you’re wrong takes a lot more strength than holding onto something that hurts your customer just because you’ve put a lot of time or effort into an initiative. By owning and correcting your mistake – rather than ascribing the problem to external factors – your customers understand the reasons for your decision and appreciate your honesty and humility.
Just like with Contently, a mistake that hurts your customers can lead to massive setbacks and even trigger a Twitter hashtag that undermines your brand’s integrity. Ultimately, however, you can win back your customers’ trust and support by putting aside your pride and owning and correcting your mistakes.
4. Offer the best possible customer service.
For many customers, one of their first interactions with your brand is through a customer service representative. Therefore, customer service plays an undeniably important role in the company’s image.
Customer service reps can demonstrate your company values in both their actions and their words. Consider for example Glossier customer service department (known as gTEAM) who are responsible for responding to customer messages on social media and creating personalized experiences for each customer who contacts them.
This kind of authentic customer focus is a small example of a larger one Glossier core value: “Dedicated to the customer”. Ultimately, every interaction your customer has with your company can affect the overall perception of your brand – and these customers share both positive and negative feedback with friends. Because of this, customer service is an important component that needs to be considered when improving the corporate image.
5. Make sure your website and social media presence reflect your current corporate image.
Company images change over time. Just think about it HubSpots culture codeMessaging has been updated over 25 times since it was first created. While the values have stayed the same, the messaging had to be adjusted to reflect the latest corporate image of HubSpot.
As your business grows, consumer preferences and industries change, and you learn more about what makes your customers happy, your priorities or visions may change slightly. In order to reflect the most relevant and accurate version of your company image, it is important that you have a strong presence on social media and on the website.
Often times social media This is the first chance people have to discover your brand – and they’ll likely get a quick assessment of your entire picture based on some pictures or videos at the top of your feed. So let them count.
Likewise, your website is your digital storefront. Just like you might want to repaint your house every few years and add fresh flowers to the pots outside, you should update your website regularly to keep it fresh.
Take a look at your website and see if it really reflects your current corporate image. If not, check whether a A complete redesign is required, or if a few small changes could do the job.
Ultimately, creating a strong, positive corporate image cannot be done in a vacuum. You need to align all aspects of your business – from marketing to sales, to service and operations – under a strong vision and mission statement, and ensure that leadership is the way to go when it comes to inspiring employees.
A strong corporate image looks different for every company, but ultimately, corporate image can mean the difference between a good company and a great one.