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Het organisatiemerk online versus offline: (in)consistent? Een onderzoek naar het verschil tussen de online en offline beeldvorming over een organisatiemerk en achterliggende oorzaken

Harmsen, M.M. (2010) Het organisatiemerk online versus offline: (in)consistent? Een onderzoek naar het verschil tussen de online en offline beeldvorming over een organisatiemerk en achterliggende oorzaken.

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Abstract:The rise and interest in the usage of the internet has ensured that many people visit the website of an organization. Yet it is unclear whether the image of an organization in an online context is consistent with the image the organization conveys in an offline context. This is because the Internet has a number of different features which distinguishes it from traditional media. It is important to draw attention to this topic because an organization ideally conveys a consistent image using any medium. This was the reason to investigate differences in the perception of a corporate brand in an online versus offline context. It is also unclear what characteristics underlie these perceptions. Therefore, the influence of usability, attractiveness of design and corporate visual identity, interactivity and quality of content on the corporate brand image is investigated. Three existing and relatively unknown organizations were selected for the study. The website of each organization was the online condition; the offline condition consisted of multiple communication materials, such as a letter and brochures. A questionnaire was used to quantitatively examine the characteristics of the (online or offline) communication materials and the image of the organization. The image was measured by including the overall judgment of the organization and how competent, customer focused, sustainable, innovative and leading the organization was perceived by the respondents. A first impression of the organization was measured on a qualitative basis. The study showed no significant differences between the corporate images in an online or offline condition. However, differences are observed in the first impression of the organizations online versus offline. In the online condition organizations were often described as businesslike, professional and competent. In the offline condition respondents often used the word reliable to describe the organizations. Some links were uncovered between the characteristics of the communications and the corporate images. Almost all characteristics in both the online and offline condition were related with the overall judgment of the organization. Furthermore, the characteristics were able to predict how competent and customer focused the organization is perceived by the respondents. Constructs which measured how durable, leading and innovative the organization is seen, were harder to predict. Finally in the online context other features seemed to be important compared with the offline context. It can be concluded that there are no differences in the perception of the organization in an online versus offline context. But what underlies these perceptions does depend on the context. In the first place usability plays an important role in the online context. The attractiveness of the design and use of colors play a role as well. By increasing the usability, the organization not only creates a positive image but also improves how customer focused, leading and competent the organization is perceived. In the offline context the attractiveness of the design and the quality of the content are the most important characteristics. With an attractive design, an organization creates a positive image and realizes a more customer focused and competent image. And by designing offline communications which are easy to use, the organization conveys a more competent image. The final conclusion is that a difference in perception is not really caused by the channel selection online versus offline. However, there are clear differences where to put emphasis within each context. Each medium (online and offline) thus has its own advantages and disadvantages when transferring the corporate brand image. One medium should not replace the other: they should complement each other.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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