Corporate image presented in a fragmentary manner

“Auchan not only participates in the Earth Hour Campaign in which electric lights will be switched off but also pledges to plant 2,000 trees in China in 2011. Our plastic bag is 100% disposable, made of environmentally-friendly stone papers. To save our environment, you are encouraged to make repeated use of this plastic shopping bag.” Those are the words of a slogan printed by Beijing Auchan Supermarket on its plastic shopping bags, and the entire slogan is printed in green.

When the public catch sight of this detail, they would very likely develop considerable appreciation of the environmental awareness of Auchan Supermarket and form the judgment that it is a corporate organization which “demonstrates social responsibility by advocating environmental protection.” As a result, the corporate identity or image of Auchan Supermarket is established. For Auchan, an item as ordinary as a shopping bag is capable of conveying a rich amount of information and an important message, helping build up the corporate image whenever and wherever the public sees the shopping bag. We can thus conclude that any detail, minute as it is, can be a significant vehicle for symbolic communication. This justifies our above-mentioned assertion that “details determine the extent of success in corporate communication.” Every detail can become a symbol which carries rich implications and although each individual detail may seem insignificant, when all such useful details come together, they can become crucial factors powerful enough to impact on the overall corporate image. These symbols can be the name of a company’s products, the identification sign of its brand, trademark, a particular person or attitude that represents the company, a story or the corporate religion, a concept and an envisioned scenario, what the employees do and say or even the cleanness of the environment - whether dust can be found being accumulated in a certain corner inside a chain store. Every single detail can come to constitute a symbol that conveys the corporate image. The key point is that it is impossible for us to list all the details as they are present in all possible spatial and temporal dimensions. The fact that such details exist but are impossible to be exhaustively presented determines that they can only be presented in a fragmentary manner. In a word, fragmentation means all the details are enormous in quantity, discrete, random and chaotic, without any discernible rules to follow.

Although a corporate image is a comprehensive identity composed of a multitude of details, those details cannot be presented to the public simultaneously in spatial and temporal dimensions. In different situations, the public is exposed to the signs that individually or partially convey information about an enterprise, which enable the public to gradually form a comprehensive assessment about that enterprise. Different types of symbols are scattered in the image-forming space in a fragmented fashion, delivering information about a relevant corporate organization and reflecting manifold aspects of its corporate image. The result is that the public’s perception about the corporate image is turned into a perception about the corporate identity (CI).

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