Role of Advertising & Communication in Corporate Image Building

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ROLE OF ADVERTISING & COMMUNICATION IN CORPORATE IMAGE BUILDING In an increasingly competitive marketplace, greater emphasis is being placed on brand image development as the basis for consumer discrimination. Advertising has a central role to play in developing brand image, whether at the corporate, retail or product level. It informs consumers of the functional capabilities of the brand while simultaneously imbuing the brand with symbolic values and meanings relevant to the consumer. These two functions of advertising closely parallel the informational and transformational schools of advertising effects and theories on the central and peripheral routes to consumer persuasion. Such dichotomous approaches to explanation are unlikely to represent the reality of consumer choice in that brand image is likely to be formed by the simultaneous absorption of advertising messages based on both the functional and expressive capabilities of brands. Most studies on corporate branding and image have focused on the influence of external communication such as advertising and public relations. Less attention has been paid to the strategic role that internal communication and training can play. This study examines the internal communication and training functions at Singapore Airlines – one of the world's best international airlines – and how it is used strategically to enable cabin crew and ground staff to live its corporate values and consistently deliver on its brand promise of being 'a great way to fly'. It shows that internal communication and training should be treated as the 'first frontier' in the battle for the customer: when it is founded on strong corporate values, internal communication and training can help transform key employees such as cabin crew into 'walking embodiments' of the core values, and key touch points into opportunities for fulfilling the brand promise. There has been considerable focus on how external communication – advertising, public relations, etc – helps corporations build a corporate image to differentiate themselves from competitors in an increasingly crowded marketplace. This corporate image is important as it is a basis on which stakeholders choose to establish contact or business transactions with the organization and whether or not to attach good or ill will towards it. On the other hand, the role of internal communication and training in building corporate brands has received less attention in the academic literature. Internal communication merits close attention as employees may be the most important audience for a company's organizational communication and corporate branding efforts. Indeed, employees are considered one of the most trusted information sources about an organization. This is so because they embody the corporate brand and interactions between them and external stakeholders communicate the brand's values as much as (if not more than) traditional marketing communications. Perhaps nowhere is this more important than in service industries where employees are routinely the contact point between a company's internal and external environments and where the interactions or 'moments of truth' can deliver the brand promise and create a powerful image and experience among customers through appropriate behavior – or not. Thus, service companies need to instill shared understandings of their brand values in the hearts and minds of employees to enhance brand-supporting behaviors. Employees who are aligned with the company's values can help their organization attain a sustainable competitive advantage by giving external stakeholders experiences of these values. Thus, 'employees represent significant brand value and an organization's leadership has a responsibility to marshal this opportunity. Nonetheless, it is not good enough that employees understand the company's brand values and have the right skills if the goal is to be 'brand ambassadors': they also have to believe in and internalize the...
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