Despite the ads, image is not everything

Published 12:27 am Monday, November 8, 2004

By Staff
Arthur McLean
Remember those old Canon camera ads where Andre Agassi (with hair) would tell you that "image is everything?"
The whole ad was a play on words using the then rather flamboyant Agassi pitching the message that you could get great images with Canon's products.
The ad was partially right in many ways. Image can mean a great deal.
Large companies, like Canon, spent a great deal of time, energy and money developing an image they want to put to the public. The presidential election was a great example of the effort that goes into projecting the image of a man as "presidential."
Even with a small business, if you plan to offer goods and services to the public, you quickly begin building an image to project to the public whether you're conscious of it or not.
But there's a corollary to the "image is everything" phrase the marketing gurus on Madison Avenue didn't mention.
Perception is equally as important as image. You can spend millions of dollars, have the brightest people work thousands of hours on carefully crafting an image for your company or candidate.
But it can all be for nothing if the people you are trying to reach perceive you differently. Sure, if you're willing to stick with it long enough and beat the drum loud enough and long enough, you can begin to shift perception, but most of us in America don't have that kind of patience anymore.
And perception is a very tricky thing.
Just this week, I was told the paper was too negative by one person and too soft and positive by another.
So, who's right? Is it like that Dire Straits song "Industrial Disease" where they sing, "Two men think they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong."
They're both right – at least as far as their perceptions go. And, of course, they're both wrong.
I believe it was Lincoln who said, "you can't please all of the people all of the time," and that's certainly true in our business.
Arthur McLean is the editor of the Atmore Advance.

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