Managing image is tricky.
People view organisations from their own points of view, and organisations who want to be seen a certain way frequently fail to ‘walk the talk’. Look at the passionate public resentment towards banks, and how incapable of meaningful change those organisations appear to be.
Now throw in the media. News stories distort reality through a prism, the private biases, behavioural norms and objectives of news organisations and the individuals who work in them.
It is difficult to get lots of people to see you as the organisation you are, let alone want to be.
One of the most common image problems I come across is when organisations become pigeon holed. For example, one of our new clients, Andrew Granger & Co, are a large firm of chartered surveyors with a broad range of specialities, from rural property and estate management to commercial and buy to let. Yet because of their high street presence in the East Midlands, they are widely known as estate agents.
One powerful way to challenge pigeon holing is to produce case studies. Show your organisation working successfully in all the areas where you operate then cross sell to customers and warm prospects.
A word of warning: In marketing, trying to be seen as all things to all people dilutes your message. This makes it harder for potential customers – and the media – to latch on to you. So in the first instance, pick a compelling service and target audience then broaden your offer once you have warmed people up.
Another client, Woodside Animal Centre, is often confused as the place to go to report animal cruelty, as it is affiliated to the RSPCA, when in fact it is an animal rescue centre for abandoned pets and strays.
Our strategy here is to differentiate the client from the national organisation through clear positioning, and responding immediately through the media or digital channels if there is confusion.
Yes, managing image is difficult. So be crystal clear about how you want to be seen, have a clear strategy to get there, be vigilant and live the dream.