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The image (from English image for picture , depiction , representation , German corresponding to reputation ) is the inner overall and mood picture or the overall impression that a majority of people have of an object of opinion (e.g. of a person or group of people, of an organization , a city or town , a company , a product , in particular a branded product , or a location ). This overall impression is a subjective category, it does not have to be objectively correct. Nonetheless, it influences or controls people's behavior, such as buying and choosing behavior. An image is created primarily affectively on the emotional level and reflects positive and negative associations , whereby information or perceptions of others can help shape the overall impression. The word "image" is one of the 100 words of the 20th century .


Companies and organizations also consciously strive for images (image policy). Industrial marketing is primarily interested in creating a positive image for products ( product image ), while trade marketing is primarily interested in creating a positive image for the product range of a retail company or a group of companies ( company image, shop image ) .

Whether and to what extent the intended image is achieved can be determined empirically using specific measurement methods ( image analysis ), particularly clearly using the so-called profile method . In the profile method, the subjects are presented with various features of the subject of opinion, which they are asked to rate on a scale. The average value is calculated for each characteristic. The averages are graphically linked by connecting lines so that a jagged line is created, the image profile . Image profiles are not only clear, but are also suitable for informative comparisons (profile lines at different times, for different locations, for different test subject groups).

An image can stabilize over time, but is usually subject to dynamics and changes.

The term is used with a similar meaning as repute , prestige and, in business life, reputation or reputation . Fame only refers to the extremely positive and high-performing parts of images.

Image in the social sciences and humanities

The term image is also used in other scientific fields besides marketing. In social psychology , several terms are used to describe the images of one person or group in relation to another person or group and which are often contradicting. Lippman (1922: 71–72) subsumed all of these terms, the most important of which are stereotype, prejudice and image, under the umbrella term “stereotypical systems” and as an orderly, constant but incomplete world view or the image of one possible world to which one has adjusted. The image is understood as "the dynamically understood, meaningful, more or less structured totality of the perceptions, ideas, ideas and feelings that a person - or the majority of people - possess of any given condition" (Kleining 1969: 444). Images can contain positive or negative evaluations as well as objective facts (Allport 1954). This is due to their greater openness to new information and their ability to change and consequently their shorter lifespan.

In linguistics, the term image was used in Vogel's linguistic image analysis (Lima). The image is neither viewed as a cognitive mental picture nor as a coherent picture of factual descriptions, but rather as a construct that exhibits both contingency and diversity (Vogel 2012: 152). This construct consists of the facts and objects (on the reference side) and the concept patterns and stereotypes regarding these reference objects in cognition (on the content side), which are represented in the discourse about a group, as well as the linguistic performance of these patterns (on the expressive side) (Vogel 2010: 348) .

The critical discourse analysis refers to no specific term to the discursive construction of the group or person to be examined. That is why it did not use the term image, but the phrase discursive representation, which is examined on both the content and the linguistic level. In a new work in the field of critical discourse analysis (Tsotsou 2018), the concept of image is used as a discursive construction, the power of which is part of the image through its consideration as a form of social practice. The image is examined in its context, which decisively influences its properties, as the study shows.


In everyday language, the terms image and attitude are sometimes used synonymously. However, they are not the same. The image includes the recruitment of many people. If, for example, the image of a product is examined in Germany, the result is the sum of the attitudes of the respondents. Furthermore, an image relates to a specific object of opinion (e.g. a political party), while an attitude reflects a basic attitude of people (e.g. a conservative or a social attitude).

Importance in Marketing

Marketing and market research see the image as an influencing factor in purchase decisions . In order to use the image in advertising specifically to position companies, goods and services , one measures the level of awareness, the popularity of the company or the products. Corresponding surveys (image measurement or image analysis) differentiate between knowledge, meaning and tendency to act.

Measures to improve the image are called "image maintenance" or "image campaign". They can also confuse consumers (brand confusion) if they perceive the memory-based brand image to be inconsistent with the appearance of the brand in advertising or at the point of sale . Objects that have achieved cult status can do without advertising at all.

In business administration , the following types are distinguished:

  • Product group image (appreciation and presentation of product types in an industry, including all brands, e.g. snowboards, young, dynamic, unconventional)
  • Brand image (the ideas associated with a specific manufacturer or trade mark ) in contrast to brand identity (the brand's self-image)
  • Corporate Image, Corporate Group Image, Business Image, Store Image, Point of Sale Image, Personal Image, Seller Image
  • Country, region, city and location image (people's ideas about a geographic area). A distinction can be made here between the external image or heterostereotype (attitude of outsiders) and self-image or auto stereotype (own attitude of people with direct reference). An image that people have of a city in which they themselves do not live or have not lived is a foreign image; the residents of a city have a self-image through their own place of residence.

The following are of particular interest for commercial management :

  • Company image (overall image with numerous partial images: product range, price, personnel, service, organizational image, etc.) and
  • Group image (of a trade association, a trade cooperation).


  • Günther Blaicher: The image of Germany in English literature. Darmstadt: Scientific Book Society 1992.
  • Danielczyk, Sandra: Diseusen in the Weimar Republic. Image constructions in cabaret using the example of Margo Lion and Blandine Ebinger (= texts on popular music 9), Bielefeld: transcript Verlag 2017, ISBN 978-3-8376-3835-6 .
  • Hugo Dyserinck: On the problem of "images" and "mirages" and their investigation in the context of comparative literature. In: Arcadia 1 (1966), pp. 107-120.
  • Fichter, C. & Jonas, K. (2008). Image Effects of Newspapers. How Brand Images Change Consumers' Product Ratings. Zeitschrift für Psychologie / Journal of Psychology, 216, 226-234.
  • Beate Flath: Sound and Image. An experimental investigation into the influence of sound quality on the perception of a product image in the context of television advertising. epOs-music, Osnabrück 2012, ISBN 978-3-940255-28-0
  • Richard Geml / Hermann Lauer: Marketing and Sales Lexicon , 4th edition, Verlag Schäffer-Poeschel, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-7910-2798-2
  • Oliver A. Herzig: brand images, brand world. New ways in image research. Vienna: Service Fachverlag 1991 (Empirical Marketing Research, 9).
  • Kautt, York: Image. On the genealogy of a communication code of the mass media . Bielefeld: transcript 2008. ISBN 978-3-89942-826-1 .
  • Andreas Köstler, Ernst Seidl: Portrait and Image. The portrait between intention and reception , Cologne: Böhlau 1998, ISBN 3-412-02698-0 .
  • HJ Richter: Introduction to Image Marketing , Stuttgart 1977, ISBN 3-17-002784-0
  • Hans-Otto Schenk: Market Economics of Commerce , Wiesbaden 1991, ISBN 3-409-13379-8 .
  • Hans-Otto Schenk: Psychology in Commerce , 2nd edition, Munich / Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58379-3 .
  • Zhengxiang Gu: On the image of China in the Zedlerschen Lexikon: bibliography of the works discussed in his China articles or named as sources. In: Stuttgart works on German studies, No. 423. Stuttgart: Verlag Hans-Dieter Heinz, Akademischer Verlag 2004 [2005], pp. 477–506. ISBN 3-88099-428-5 .
  • Oliver Grau (Ed.): Imagery in the 21st Century . MIT-Press, Cambridge 2011. With contributions by James Elkins , Eduardo Kac , Peter Weibel , Lev Manovich , Olaf Breitbach , Martin Kemp , Sean Cubitt , Christa Sommerer , Marie Luise Angerer , Wendy Chun and others.

Itemized list

  1. ^ Lippmann, W .: Public Opinion . Ed .: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1922.
  2. Kleining, G: About social images . In: Cologne journal for sociology and social psychology (ed.): Special issue . tape 5 , 1961, pp. 145-170 .
  3. ^ Allport, G: The Nature of Prejudice . Cambridge, Mass .: Addison - Wesley, 1954.
  4. ^ Vogel, F: The LDA Toolkit Corpus Linguistic Analysis Tool for Contrastive Discourse and Image Analysis in Research and Teaching . Ed .: Journal for Applied Linguistics. 2012, p. 129-165 .
  5. Vogel, F .: Linguistic Image Analysis (LIma). Basic considerations and exemplary study on the public image of Turks and Turkey in German-language media . Ed .: German language. tape 4 , 2010.
  6. Alexianna Tsotsou: The image of Germany in the Greek press in the period 2001–2013: a discourse-linguistic corpus-oriented analysis. Publishing house Dr. Kovac, accessed 2018 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Image  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations