Most of us know intuitively, that first impressions are important. We don’t like to think that we judge a book by its cover or a person by what they are wearing, but the reality is that we often do. It’s second nature. In a business environment, it’s much the same. How consumers view us or judge us is often determined by outward appearances. This is where branding comes in; it helps reveal things that are evident right away, before they dig deeper.
This doesn’t mean we (or our business) need to be the best dressed or look like something we are not. It does mean making sure our image reflects who we are. So that consumers can size us up quickly and that the first image or impression we leave them with is a positive one. A first impression that will draw them back to us, cause them to remember us, when they want or need what we have to offer and, just as important, will keep them coming back to us after they have experienced what we have to offer.
This is where branding comes in! To be effective, the image we are branding our business with needs to reflect our business positively and accurately. There’s no point in selling our business as one that cares if the products or services we deliver, and the way we deliver them, leave our customers disappointed.
We can spend a lot of money on advertising to bring in first time customers, but if they don’t look further than the first page of our website or physical store front, because the way we present our business is lacking, we’re wasting time and money. At the same time, we may offer the best product and the best service known to man, but if we’re not able to get this message across to potential customers, we will just be another small business with a great service or product that fizzles out due to lack of customers.
If people don’t know about you or don’t want to know about you because they don’t really understand the benefits of what you’re offering, your job is to change that. Maybe not your job specifically, you may need help. But it’s your job to take the steps to make sure your business is recognizable and known in the market you serve, that your ‘brand’ is understood.
Branding is all about image or how people see you and experience you! First impressions and lasting impressions that build your business through attracting new clients and that keep them coming back, and telling others about you.
Branding will ‘mark you’ to help people remember you and think of you when they are looking for what you offer (think Starbucks, Nike, Apple, McDonalds). It will ‘mark you’ so that your advertising and other marketing campaigns will have the added benefit of your name. Your name will carry weight based on the reality of who you are, what you do and how you do it. You don’t need to be big business for this to work in your local market. But you do need to do the work of building your brand, and this takes time. Of course, if you’re not good at what you do, if you don’t provide good service, if you over promise and under deliver, this too will mark your business and impact it in a negative way. Great branding can help solidify a bad reputation in the marketplace too.
A good reputation is hard to beat. A bad reputation is hard to overcome. Branding can help anchor your brand in the marketplace and build your business. Also, consistency is an important piece of the branding equation, so for maximum impact ensure all of your branding is aligned, consistent, representative of who you are and clearly marks you as being you.
Of course, branding isn’t only skin deep. It’s not just the look of your brand, its who you are, everything you do and how you do everything.