What Are the Different Types of Corporate Advertising?

Terry Masters

The different types of corporate advertising include image advertising, opinion advertising and investment advertising. Determining the purpose of an advertising campaign is often the easiest way to distinguish between the different types because the labels applied can often be inconsistent. Marketing for corporations is different from product advertising and is concerned with messaging that affects the entire company, or the company's overall brand.

Opinion advertising is a form of corporate advertising that presents the impression of doing a public service by addressing the importance of a company.
Opinion advertising is a form of corporate advertising that presents the impression of doing a public service by addressing the importance of a company.

When people think of advertising, the first thing that comes to mind is often the consumer advertising that attempts to convince the public to buy a company's product. In this context, advertising type tends to equal the advertising format, such as whether the ad is in print, on the radio or on television. Corporate advertising, however, is a different category of advertising altogether. It is comprised of the advertising campaigns that a company runs to signal its position in the marketplace. Instead of focusing on one product or product class, the advertisement talks about the company generally, addressing broad issues such as strategic initiatives, financial strength or corporate philosophy.

Investment advertising is a form of corporate advertising designed to attract potential investors.
Investment advertising is a form of corporate advertising designed to attract potential investors.

Corporate advertising comes in three different types. Image advertising is a type of marketing that attempts to improve the company's reputation or increase the acknowledgment of its importance in relation to its competitors. It is the type of ad that educates the public about the company's leadership and market position in an attempt to show the company as a primary reason a particular industry is prospering or beneficially impacting consumers.

Opinion, or advocacy, advertising is corporate advertising that is primarily concerned with influencing public opinion on issues of importance to the company. The ad is educational, and may not even mention the company in a major way. These types of advertisements tend to give the impression that the corporation is doing a public service by bringing important concerns to the public's attention. Often, the ad does provide some public benefit, but it is also tied to the company's interests and bottom line.

Investment advertising is another type of marketing that is designed to attract investors. It focuses on the financial strength of the company, and the benefits of owning the company's securities. These ads typically appear in financial publications and other media sources that target the financial industry. Instead of presenting information on the corporation's products or its overall philosophy, investment advertising uses financial information, ratios and historical returns to make a case why investment in the company is safer and more profitable than other investment options.

Image advertising aims to promote the importance of a company.
Image advertising aims to promote the importance of a company.

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Discussion Comments


@cloudel – I have a few cheap promotional pens in my drawer that I got for free from my bank, my lawyer, and my insurance salesman. It's always nice to get free gifts just for being a customer, so I don't mind doing a little advertising for them.

These aren't usually what comes to my mind when I think about corporate advertising, though. I think of the elegant ads they run on television during the local news.

There is always a narrator with a pleasing voice that commands respect. He or she is speaking about the longstanding tradition of the company and what it has done for the community.

I think that if someone is new in town or is in the market for whatever kind of business is being promoted, this can be effective. It's nice to hear a little about a company before choosing them, and it is better than just going through the phone book and picking from a list of businesses.


Corporate advertising goes beyond radio, television, and print ads. I've seen small ads of this nature on promotional mugs and other items.

The mugs usually say the name of the company, followed by a line that says something like “serving customers since 1953.” Some of them even list a few accomplishments, if there is enough space.

Then there are events held at companies where free t-shirts covered in ads are given away. This is a great form of corporate advertising, because wherever the person wearing the shirt goes, other people will read the ad.


I see a lot of real estate ads boasting about how many homes the agency has sold. I guess if I were about to sell my home, I would want to go with an agency that had a good track record.


I worked as a graphic designer at a newspaper for many years, and I designed many corporate print ads for places like banks and insurance agencies. The banks sometimes offered giveaways in their advertising tactics, usually in the form of free food.

They would run an ad for a couple of weeks bragging about how wonderful they were and how they had been in business for over a hundred years. Then, as the date for their free lunch neared, the shift of the ad would focus to this. They wanted the public to know that they were nice enough to give away free hamburger lunches.

They did this in the hope of attracting new customers. I have to say that it seems like a good tactic. Let people know how solid your reputation is for awhile, and then throw in the fact that you are giving away food.


@Azuza - I guess that type of advertisement would be great for a non-profit organization. A lot of non-profits care more about the thing they're trying to inform people about, rather than making money (because non-profits aren't making a profit anyway.)

But it might not be that great for a for-profit business, because if no one can remember who funded the advertisement, there's no benefit to the business.


I feel like I see a ton of advocacy advertising. I think the one I see the most is for anti-smoking campaigns. What's interesting about that though, is that I can't think of what the company is off the top of my head. Although I do remember the ads!

I guess this type of advertisement is good if you want to get a message out there, but not so great if you're trying to increase awareness about your company.


@Pharoah - I see image advertisements for companies all the time too. A lot of companies use these types of advertisements to strengthen their brand. The advertisements help get their name out there, and also help make the brand look good by showcasing all the "good things" they do for their customers and the community.


I've never heard of this kind of advertising before. However, after reading this article, I realized that I've already seen several corporate advertisements this morning.

I saw one ad that was for a health insurance company, but it wasn't advertising any specific kind of policy. It was talking about the company, and how they're dedicated to providing good service and they really care about people's health. I can see now that it was designed to be an image advertisement for that insurance company.


@sapphire12- I feel like that is true and that we don't often pay attention to corporate ads the same way we do to products. Many people will say that they do not trust product advertising, but they're still willing to try out a bank because it has a good deal or its ads have attractive and friendly looking people in them.


I taught a high school class last year where, in addition to literature, we discussed life topics. One of them was advertising. I found that while there has been "bandwagon" advertising for a long time, there seems to be another type that is really popular now too, which is sort of the opposite.

We all want to be the first to get new things, like a new phone or computer or mp3 player. I think that this elitist sort of advertising is true in companies, too; investment firms or insurance firms often seem to want to show that if you use their services you'll get added help or an extra leg up in making money, even though that probably isn't true.

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