By Tamara Pupic
With so much competition out there, and customer power high, your image, reputation and exposure are paramount
Without wanting to be over-dramatic, you can’t afford to get it wrong when it comes to your brand.
If you’re trying to attract people rather than turn them away; if you’re trying to establish a solid reputation; if you’re trying to gain an advantage of your competitors, then your brand simply can’t let you down.
With that in mind, here are a few suggestions of things to look at if you feel you need to boost your brand.
Good first impressions
This isn’t rocket science. The way you present yourself from the very first moment will be the way people remember you from there on in.
Your brand – every aspect of it – has to look the part, sound the part, and act the part. Why would anybody support a brand that turns them off from the first moment?
In his book ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’, Malcolm Gladwell writes: “Buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions based on stored memories, images and feelings.”
If you fall foul of this two-second rule, your brand may never recover, so do yourself a favour and make sure every first impression you, your company, and your employees make is a good one.
Be authentic and have values
People won’t believe in your brand if it’s not believable. Obviously. And the easiest way to be believable is to be authentic. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not – decide what you’re trying to say to potential customers and be honest about it.
If you can be authentic you will find it much easier to build relationships with the people you are trying to reach, and if you can define your set of values, then you will find that you are able to draw likeminded people towards you. Customers and clients will be well informed, and – hopefully – willing to be associated with you.
If you carry those values and authenticity throughout the business, and if they are imbued by each member of your team then people will know what to expect from your company and a potential working relationship.
Build a good reputation
Your reputation is paramount, and it can be hard for your brand to survive a series of poor reviews. If you build a reputation for quality service, friendly and on-time delivery, good financial results, or whatever is relevant for your business, then people will notice it and your brand will benefit as a result.
If your track record is sound, then your brand will be strong. When people see your logo they will associate it with quality, and when people hear your name they will know it’s somebody they can trust.
What’s more, in this social media era, bad news travels faster than ever. Having a good reputation will mean there’s no ammunition for people to use against you. You want positivity to spread rather than negativity, so do what you can to get people on your side.
Have a story and be consistent
People will connect with your brand more easily if you brand has a story. And as you grow, that story should grow with you.
There is romance to a brand with a story, as well as a message. Your story will give your brand a personality – it will give it life, and people will be able to identify with it more easily. People often respond well to emotions.
Over time your business will almost undoubtedly change. Hopefully it will develop and grow in positive ways, and your story needs to grow with it. Be consistent throughout this growth and let people share in it. Don’t confuse them by changing direction or having some sort of personality transplant. It’s more a case of evolution, not revolution.
Consistency is not only important over time – it’s important throughout your company. Customers want the same brand experience no matter which department, or which part of the business they are dealing with.
Be available and participate
As a start-up or SME, it’s likely that people will want to speak directly with you or your employees. Make yourself available as much as possible and interact with people – you and your company are symbiotic and your brand will be best explained, and best spread, if you are promoting it yourself.
Speak at events, network, and write comment pieces. If you and your business look like you want to be in touch with customers, then your brand will not just become one that’s recognisable, but also one that cares about what it’s doing.
Customers are all-important, and to lose touch with them would be to lose touch with what should be your main focus. People will notice if you do that, and your brand will suffer.
Don’t be shy
If you’re doing something good, shout about it. If somebody has given you a great review, share it. If you’ve won an award, tell the world.
Clients and customers are generally attracted to companies that look and sound like they are and have always been successful – so tell people about your success.
Even if you don’t have a raft of accolades to show off, it’s important to let people know how good a product or service you have. Don’t be shy to extol your own virtues and be confident. A confident brand can bring its own rewards, so make the most of it.