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Image strategy in your company

PR
the image strategy must be coherent - take care of it!

The image is the most important, and the image strategy can lift the company from collapse or decide about its collapse. New communication channels and expectations of customers force the adaptation of old strategies to new realities. Here's how to go about it.  

What will you learn from the article?

Running a business is not only about selling products or services - it is also about skill image building brand that will attract customers and distinguish you from the competition. Our article will help you understand what an image strategy is and how to develop it. You will also learn what techniques and tools are worth using to create an effective image strategy, as well as what benefits come from its implementation. You will learn examples of well-known image strategies that are worth imitating and mistakes that should be avoided. Finally, we will show you how storytelling can become a key element in building the image of your company.

One day you probably looked at a company known for years in a completely different light than before. Such changes rarely happen overnight. Usually, they consist of the sum of impressions and signals that ultimately create a new image. Rarely does it all happen by chance. Usually, the image strategy is behind the changes for the better. 

What is the image strategy about? 

Today, more and more is said about a personal brand. Everyone can begin to consciously shape their image. For the young generation growing up in social media, this knowledge is obvious. This makes the image strategy useful for companies - from small to global ones. The biggest misconception is that it is enough PR campaign or advertising to take care of the image. Such large-scale activities will eventually pay off, but this is not yet an image campaign. For this to be complete, all the pieces of the puzzle should fit together.

Consistent branding, message and offer emphasized by appropriate communication and marketing make up a strategy that will ultimately translate into an image. When it comes to technical details, a long-term branding strategy is always better. Even if it is less spectacular over time, only such a situation has a chance to convince the public about the change.

A single campaign does not provide enough touchpoints. To put it simply, customers will not learn about the change or this knowledge will not be retained. Single image campaigns they are rarely part of a coherent strategy. They often cause confusion in communication. An example may be the detached efforts of some Polish local governments, which built their image solely on the new logo. Subsequent versions without a comprehensive strategy rarely translated into a long-term effect, and a spectacular but single move was quickly forgotten.

image strategy can be decisive for the success of your business

How to develop an image strategy?

The image strategy begins with defining the company's goal - what the brand wants to achieve on the market, how it wants to be perceived, what mission will accompany it throughout the entire activity. A plan is made based on the goal. The plan should be detailed, real, understandable, specific and coherent (e.g. if a company wants to develop online services, it should base the strategy on Internet channels, not traditional ones). The plan is to be defined in such a way that it can be implemented with specific resources. The company needs to know what it is aiming for. For example, if you want to expand your website, you should first define what should end up on it. This will allow you to set a specific direction of work - how to direct activities in order to achieve the goal in a trouble-free way.

In order for the image strategy to bring the expected results, it must assume long-term development. A one-off action will not be as effective as carefully planned long-term action. Shaping the company's image It takes time. You can't cut corners. It takes years to build an image.

The brand image building plan should provide for everything that may happen - the scenario method, which involves the preparation of various variants of the development of the situation. This will allow you to be prepared for any eventuality. However, we should remember to systematically monitor the situation, learn from our actions and remain flexible (if we operate in an industry in which something is constantly changing). The budget and detailed executive schedule are also very important in the image strategy - that is, the elements that give control over that activities are carried out and financed in a timely manner.

And what does it look like in practice? Image creation brand is to come up with an idea, a keynote that will accompany it throughout its activity. In the case of rebranding (refreshing or changing the brand), you need to specify the degree of change (what you want to change). The next step is to create associations desired for the brand, find something that distinguishes it from the competition, define the image style and establish branding postulates - they will set the path that the brand will follow in the future.

Market analysis, i.e. defining the environment, competitive companies and institutions with which the company has ties, is of great importance in creating an image strategy. The analysis of the recipient group is also important - it allows you to get to know customers, understand their needs, which translates into the selection of an appropriate message and communication channels with recipients. The target group cannot be too general (e.g. men between 25 and 50 years old). It should take into account such data as age, place of residence, lifestyle, interests and characteristics of the recipients.

Image strategy techniques and tools 

The image strategy is both unrestricted creation and planned action according to a template. Creative solutions fit into rigid frames that give them form. The plan should include elements such as a new or at least refreshed logo, online presence and store design. An example would be premium brand rebranding Halupczok, which we carried out at Commplace. The identification of the company was composed around the letter H. In second place was the exclusive nature of the solutions. This set the tone for all communication. With these types of assumptions, you can start thinking about a PR campaign, in social media or on billboards. In addition to practical aspects, such as colors and interior design, you also need an image strategy in terms of ideas. Moodboards that are fashionable today also work well when planning what style, character and values the brand will represent.

In the case of brand rebranding, an image audit must also be taken into account. It is an assessment of the potential of the current image, analysis of the strategy that the brand has used so far, analysis of the effectiveness of the name and logo, verification of the legal status (trademark registrations, copyrights, etc.). A detailed audit allows you to create an effective image strategy.

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Image strategy - an example

Brand image is the way recipients perceive it, what associations and feelings evoke thoughts about the brand, and how they define it. If the brand does not take any action, the image will build itself. It will be the result of different, random feelings of recipients to messages sent by the company. However, is such a strategy (which is essentially no strategy) beneficial? Unfortunately, leaving the image issue to chance not only may not help the brand, but, even worse, may harm it. Having no control over how people perceive the brand, we run the risk of business failure. That's not the point.

The key to building a positive, strong image is the right strategy. An example that fits perfectly with today's realities is image in social media. Social media has become one of the most important elements of running a business. Thanks to them, you can reach a wide audience, easily and quickly communicate with customers (e.g. via DM on Instagram or messages on Facebook). You can present your company, its services and products in an interesting - and at the same time very comprehensive - way. However, in order for activities in social media to bring the expected results, they must be properly planned.

The image strategy in social media is consistency, attractiveness, systematicity and commitment. The image on the Internet must be consistent with what the brand promotes externally. The colors and form of the posts must refer to the company's activities. The message cannot be chaotic. It is worth taking care of positioning that will help reach more people and thus make the brand stand out - e.g. use appropriate hashtags for photos, comment on posts and profiles to get noticed.

Regularity is what counts in the image strategy in social media. Content should be added regularly. Each longer break has a negative impact on the brand. It is worth planning publications (create a post schedule). This will allow you to maintain continuity, which is one of the determinants of popularity in social media. It is also important to involve and integrate with recipients. Nothing influences the positive feelings and favorable opinion of recipients about the brand as much as showing them that they are important. It is worth engaging recipients (sharing polls or stickers with questions on InstaStories) and interacting with them (responding to comments, sharing survey responses, sharing interesting content, photos with products, etc.).

Benefits of implementing an image strategy 

In an increasingly saturated market, each company is looking for a differentiator. Realistically speaking, there are an endless number of variations when it comes to products or their appearance and functions. Therefore, the emphasis in the communication of many brands is placed on the image. Thanks to it, you can expand the customer base with those who are close to the given values. On the other hand, in highly saturated markets, the image strategy allows you to narrow down the offer for a specific group of customers.

The benefits of implementing an image strategy also include the coherence of the company's activities. Once it becomes clear to you what your corporate values and image are, the direction to follow as well as the tools to achieve your goals will also appear. For example, the ecological image will determine the activities, campaigns and plans of the brand. Brand image premium allows you to screen out ideas that do not correlate with these assumptions and choose those that support them, such as competing in quality or tasteful campaigns. 

Known image strategies worth following 

Recently, we have managed to completely change the image of the Krysiak brand (case-study of the rebranding of the Krysiak family company you will find here). The inconspicuous and incoherent image has changed beyond recognition. This resulted in a refreshing appearance of the showrooms, a new logo, branding and product packaging. A new slogan and a clear image strategy appeared, based on family and local values. 

The brand image in the minds of customers reflects its values.

Will what is behind your company convince your customers?

The image strategy may be based on previously developed values. For example, Scandinavian brands such as IKEA or H&M share similar features: simplicity, affordability, and egalitarianism. These brands did not build such a strategy from scratch. They were based on the already existing good reputation of Scandinavian design and the image of the Nordic countries in the world. This may seem like a shortcut. In this way, however, it is possible to multiply the message and give it authenticity. The image strategy will be based on the pre-existing basis. As long as it is unwavering (such as the image of Scandinavia unchanged for years), it will also have a positive impact on brand communication in the long term.

What mistakes should not be made?

What can go wrong in planning your image strategy? First, the mistake is the lack of a coherent, clearly defined goal, idea, thought that defines the company. Effect? The brand "dies" in the midst of the competition. It cannot be remembered. Nothing stands out. Today homogeneous market it is a surfeit of similar, or even the same, products and services. Each of the articles on offer is the same as the others. Competition is too strong for everyone to have their own unique trait. However, it is important that the brand has something distinctive. A keynote, slogan, unique emotions - based on the feature of the offered product, its appearance, color, shape. Something that will allow the customer to notice a given company in the sheer volume of information and products.

The image strategy will not be effective if there is no communication coherence. A brand must be based on the same assumptions in each communication channel. Consumers have to come across them many times. Thanks to this, they will remember them, they will not confuse the brand with any other, competitive - for example, Milka is distinguished by the fact that all messages take on a purple color; it distinguishes it, makes it unique and easy to remember.

The wrong definition of the target group and its needs will also have a negative impact on the image strategy. Ignorance of the consumer is the easiest way to poorly chosen methods of communication with the group, incorrect, ineffective messages, inadequate form of promotion.

Budget matters too. Many brands, wanting to save, do not spend any money on their image strategy. What can such action bring? Lots of negative effects - from creating an unprofessional image to low profits and a weak market position. The budget for the image strategy allows you to create a coherent visual identification and original branding. An example are product photos. The better, the greater the chance that they will attract customers and the brand will be recognized as professional.

Incompetently conducted image strategy will not bring the expected results. That's why a well-structured plan is so important. It allows you to define in detail the schedule of activities, vision and goals that the brand wants to achieve. Thanks to it, actions are thoughtful, specific and, most importantly, lead to success.

Storytelling as an image strategy 

Currently, the image strategy is based more and more often on the so-called storytelling, otherwise known as narrative marketing. In short, it is the impersonation of the brand. It is attributed with features identical to the aspirations, dreams and beliefs of customers. Such is used for this marketing communication channels such as sponsored articles, social media or custom publishing. Using a palette of measures like branding and appropriate brand communication build a coherent image. At the center is an idea or lifestyle. Customers who identify with them have a greater chance of identifying with the brand. 

Building the company's image is something we know very well - contact us and check what we can do for you.

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