As a business owner your company brand image is the visual representation and encapsulation of everything about your business to a customer – what service or product you offer, your reputation, your name recognition, etc. – and it’s how customers will come to remember your business thinking about the products and services they need. Also tied into the visual aspect associated with your brand name is its reputation – for your business to be successful, that is, to generate increased revenue and gain more customers or clients – your brand must have a positive reputation.
Building your brand image isn’t as simple as hiring a marketing or team or conceptual artist to create a logo or an advertising campaign. Establishing your brand requires diligence, hard work, consistency, patience and creativity. Having a good brand image is both a required component of maintaining success and very rewarding by way of tangible results – you can look at your sales and revenue and see the direct impact of your hard work on your financial bottom-line. Below are some pointers to help you build and maintain a successful business brand.
How does it look?
Consider yourself quite fortunate if you have in-house designers that are capable and have been able to deliver a logo that you are satisfied with. For many businesses this isn’t the case. There is absolutely nothing wrong in hiring a professional designer; you’re more likely to see a healthy return on your investment. Hire a graphic designer or company with a great reputation and a good portfolio; strive to find a designer with familiarity in your business field but perhaps not somebody your competitors have already employed. Aside from your brand name, it’s always beneficial to have an associated image that customers’ envision in their minds when they think of your product or service – recognition is important.
It’s the number one method of advertising in the entire world and you have to use it to your advantage, just like most businesses – including your competition – you have to find an effective way to establish your brand on the internet. It bears repeating that the internet, and your presence on it, can be seen by anyone, anywhere and at any time – use it’s availability to your advantage. It goes without saying that you should have a website, but what else can you do?
Have a blog – make it promotional but also make sure the content is relevant and informative and entertaining (best case scenario? Make it both). Feature your services, products, events, sales, etc. – a blog, as an extension of your main website, can be a powerful and effective tool. And you can update it when and however you wish.
In addition to having a site and a blog, the other thing you must do is create a presence in the areas of social networking. Get involved with sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. If there is one thing that is absolutely undeniable with regard to the internet and business, as well as most people’s everyday lives, it’s that social networking is quickly becoming one of the most widely used and accepted forms of communication available today.
Additionally, you can join existing web based communities and message boards related to your business and join in on conversations with your peers. Lastly, always be sure to include your company logo or mantra as part of your signature when sending and replying to emails – it’s a small but significant detail that keeps your logo and brand associated with your name.
Customers – make it personal
It is fairly standard practice to keep customer’s contact information on file. If you don’t have a database with customer information, you can start one fairly easily by asking them to fill out a form with the purpose of gathering information. You can use client information in a database to send customers a personal note on their birthday or send updates regarding additional products or services based on their prior buying history with you, especially if you have upcoming promos, sales or special offers. Making things a bit more personal can foster the incentive for them to come back and become a regular and loyal customer to you and your business.
Make your Brand your appearance
You’ve likely seen examples of branding mixed with apparel or promotional goods – a great example of where this type of brand awareness is presented is at industry trade shows. Often times, the staff at a trade show booth will be outfitted in something – a cap, hoodie, jacket, golf shirt, etc. – with the company logo emblazoned on it. In addition to wearing the company image, trade shows are a great environment to create further recognition by having trade show promotional items on hand that you can give away for free. You can take it one step further by wearing the branded apparel in your everyday life if you wish; you can use branded promotional items outside of tradeshows also.
Taking it to the streets – be known in your community
Join community oriented activities, offer to sponsor a local event (*i.e. – children’s sports, school functions, etc.) and start creating awareness of your name and what it is associated with at a grass roots level. Not all businesses have a budget that will allow for a heightened presence, but you can still make an effective effort by offering your time to a local service club or youth sports league. This will help you to become known locally.
Utilize you brand as much as possible and facilitate as much exposure to it as you possible can – everything, no matter how small, will ultimately serve to get it recognized and known to potential customers. Beyond that, other integral ingredients to your business success – like backing up your brand with impeccable customer service and products – are up to you.