We all work under a brand, maybe it’s your firm or an organization you serve. Your blog is even a brand, in that case this post is for you. If you are thinking or have recently starting your own business, then this post is definatley for you. Your brand is everything, it’s what sets you apart in this commerical and advertisment wacky world we live in!
Boosting your Brand & Image is every company’s dream and one of the goals in their marketing plan. However, it’s a lot to think about and important to set short-term and long-term goals to reach objectives that necessitates change and action. This article is intended to be an aid in that process:
Manage first impression:
- does your company appear professional, successful and up to date on current Technology and Design trends?
- do you seem in touch with your B2B contacts, customers and active on social media?
- do you inspire trust, confidence and crediblity in your product via your online image?
Build a Comprehensive & Attractive Corporate Website
A corporate website is the online identity of your business. It’s the face of your company and, in most cases, the first thing customers look for when dealing with a new business.
Link all your other online assets, like social media profiles, interviews, news updates etc., with your main website. Make it the hub of your online activities and use it to manage your brand image.
- Create a modern corporate website (read this for more).
- Invest in your design, it always pays off (learn more).
- Add About Us, Vision, Mission, Services, Blog and Contact pages.
- Add call to actions throughout your website content.
- Add links of your social media profiles and add an email subscription box. (Use blog posts to manage your Newsletter content)
- Add icons of verified payment gateways in the footer to build trust.
- Consult a website security expert to ensure your online assets stay safe.
Actively Update Your Corporate Blog
Building a strong corporate website is important, but it’s not enough. In order to differentiate yourself, you need to continuously come up with high quality and action oriented content related to the most common problems of your customers.
And there’s no better way to do that than starting an official company blog. There are still people who either underestimate the impact of blogging or simply do not know how to make use of it.
There are 2 primary benefits that your business will get from blogging.
- It will create more content related to your industry and will help Google index more pages from your website and route more potential customers to it.
- More importantly, high quality blog content will help you truly establish your business as the go to source for all the major problems in your industry. (developing a reputation of expertise)
- Start a WordPress blog (read this, if you need any more convincing)
- Create a blogging schedule and stick to it religiously.
- Do NOT focus your blog content solely on your own products, services or company news. (this post on Problogger explains more)
- Create every post with the objective of resolving the problems of your potential clients.
- Offer solutions, clients will come automatically.
Engage & Interact With Customers on Social Media
Social media websites are probably the best thing that ever happened to small businesses. There’s no better way to interact with your customers and understand their actual needs. However, most businesses are doing it the wrong way.
Social media websites are not for broadcasting your company news and blog links. Instead, they give you an opportunity to bring out the lighter side of your brand and get closer to your customers in an informal manner.
Don’t waste it with your self-obsession. Stamp your social media profiles with the brand theme that you’ve used on your corporate website, and use it as an extension of your existing website content.
What you share on these networks will leave a long lasting impact of your brand in the minds of your customers. So don’t take it lightly.
- Don’t waste your efforts with dozens of social networks. Instead, focus on 2-3 main platforms. (e.g. Youtube, LinkedIn & Twitter)
- Like blogging, create a social media posting schedule.
- Use combinations of images, humor, news and opinion based posts to engage your followers.
- Your Facebook cover and Twitter background images should clearly reflect your brand theme.
- Click here to learn more about using the top 3 social networks more effectively.
Build Credibility With Industry Specific Certifications
Nothing impacts customer psyche more directly than a few established and recognized industry specific certifications. They immediately erase any doubts or fears that potential clients might have about the quality of your products and services.
- Acquire the most relevant certifications in your industry.
- Display them across all your online assets including your corporate website and social media profiles.
Create a Motto or Mission Statement condensed into a one-liner = “Corporate Strapline”
Motto & Encapsulate your Vision:
- What do you want to stand out about your Company?
- How will it be memorable to dozens of companies just like it?
Encapsulating your entire business offering into a single, short line can be quite a difficult process and may take some time but once you’ve cracked it it’ll do absolute wonders for the brand. Cheesy as some of them may are, we could rattle off 10 different strap lines of big brands and guaranteed you’ll know who they are instantly. So not only is it one of the quickest ways to inform customers about what you do or what you stand for but more importantly it will make them remember the brand.
General ways to improve your brand image
You have to be brutally honest with yourself. Or rather, with your brand.
If you have $ to invest, you might consider taking on a professional agency to help you with your brand image. You’ll have to spend the money but if the design agency or brand consultancy you choose is only half decent at what they do you’ll have spent your money very wisely. Also keep in mind that if it’s done properly you’ll only have to spend your money once and should be set up for a long time and it will make future rebrands a lot easier and cost-effective.
First impressions are paramount
An age-old statement, we know, but it’s so true. The number of ‘good looking’ sites that came out on top was overwhelming. Is it pretty? Does it encporate mixed media, visual content and adopt current trends towards video and infographic material?
What emotions are you selling?
In short, your brand image should be based on what your customer expects or wants to see and not necessarily what you would like to see.
Your brand should not convey your own personal feelings or likes but should speak to your market in a way that they like to be spoken to.
It’s also very important that you think beyond the actual services / products you’re offering and think about the emotion your clients are buying
Once you have defined your brand’s ‘emotions’ you can look at ways to portray these. Think about fonts (which ones look clean, strong or professional). Or which colours would best correspond with a certain feeling? What kind of logo shape appears to make you feel a certain way? All these little things together will create a highly successful brand image for you.
- Be object, go to your website or social media profile, what emotions do they ellicit? Do they match with the emotions that would boost your brand and image, why not?
- Is your logo boring and or not directly related to your products?
- Is your website’s design to old or not able to incorpote the fresh content you would like to portray?
Big & build yourself up (old-school self-enhacement)
Always aim to make your company appear bigger than you really are. Customers are generally attracted to companies that look like they’ve been in business for years, have gained extensive knowledge in their particular field and look like they have a solid workforce or infrastructure in place.
A warning about this, don’t go so overboard on this that you appear inauthentic or down right unethical to your B2B partners and prospects.
You may own a company which only employs 5 people. And these 5 people may be the absolute best at what they do and may even provide a much better service than your competitor who employs 25 staff. But when a customer has to make a choice between your 5-man company or your 25 strong competitor, chances are they won’t come knocking on your door. Why? Because compared to them you don’t look big enough to handle a job.
Creating a predefined set of values is extremely important in getting your brand to work across the entire business spectrum. It informs both your clients as well as your staff of the way things are done in the business and creates a uniform platform from which everyone in the business can do their job.
Decide which values apply first and foremost to your business. i.e. professionalism, integrity, easy going, friendly, high standards, pride, etc. and then work them into three or four separate sentences.
These should instantly be able to convey to your clients how you operate and what they can expect from a working relationship.
- Create a list of keywords that define your organization, your approach to Business Development and highlight what your products & services can do for clients, customers and users.
Always aim to highlight the benefits that your products/services can offer clients and put them on the forefront of any marketing materials.
- make a list, break it down (which are most sellable to your target audience?)
Ultimately this is what they’re most interested in. How will spending money with you benefit my business. THIS IS ALL THEY ARE INTERESTED IN. What do you do, who have you done it for before and what was the impact. If you do anything DO THIS. It is vital to attracting new business.
- do the exercise of creating a mock advertisement for your company and its products. This will help you explore the psyche of your own company. It should include demos and objective short reviews of impressions and experiences of people using your product and/so services.
Continuity Standardization & Quality Control
As small companies get a little bigger, you may want to look into….
It’s vital that customers have the same brand experience regardless of at what point they deal with your company, especially in a business to business environment. This ensures a consistent and reliable business experience meaning customers will always know what to expect from your business. You are creating an important trust between you and your clients and will ultimately make them feel comfortable enough to recommend you to other businesses without the potential fear of putting themselves in a bad light by referring them to an unreliable supplier. Lose this trust and you have a problem.
- identify weak links in company organization, inter communication between departments, poor customer service - greatly varying sales styles, anything that does not meet certain reasonable levels of continuity and standardization.
Keep in mind though that brand continuity goes far beyond the look of your website or other sales materials. Think about the way your staff dress or answer the phone, the manner in which your business sends out or chases up on invoices, the place in which you receive clients or have your meetings or the way in which you keep your clients updated with new developments in your industry.
Offer Expert Opinion on Top Industry Blogs
Another extremely effective way to elevate your brand image is to feature on the top websites and blogs of your industry as an expert author. The top category blogs in any niche receive millions of monthly visitors that include major industry influencers and opinion makers as well.
Featuring on these blogs will not only add credibility to your profile, but also expose you to a much wider and highly targeted audience. Do you have experts and copywrights in your company that can make this happen?
- Identify the top blogs of your industry and offer them detailed actionable content as free guest posts.
- Use the author bio at the end of your post to communicate your brand’s message and link back to your main website.
- Display the logos of these top blogs on your corporate website under the heading “Featured On” or anything similar.
- Read this, to know more about featuring on the top blogs of your industry.
Use Client Testimonials to Your Advantage
Testimonials from satisfied clients can add a lot of weight to your online brand image but, for some reason, many businesses seem to underestimate their value. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your audience, the consumers. Brand management is a PR campaign about trust and with millenials, authentcity!
Make it a standard practice to ask for testimonials every time you satisfy a new client. You can even ask them to highlight particular aspects of your services that you feel important.
Neil Patel, a famous content marketer, uses client testimonials to great effect on his website Quick Sprout.
- Ask all your existing and previous clients for testimonials.
- Display them randomly on your corporate website.
- Quote them in your blog posts and guest posts.
- Link back to their original websites – it increases the credibility of their testimonials.
Acquire Clients on B2B Trading Portals
The challenge on these platforms, however, is to stand out from the crowd. But with your solid online brand image, you have the perfect opportunity to get ahead of your competitors and make major progress in acquiring high paying B2B clients. The same goes for live Events, trade-shows and conferences.
- Register on the top online B2B portals like QualityTrade, Alibaba etc.
- Build your profile on these websites and link it with your other online assets (website, social networks, certifications etc.)
- Actively approach buyers in your industry and send detailed inquiries to their requirements.
Is your brand and content up to date with regards to VM (visual-mobile) trends towards Video, podcasts (think soundcloud), infographics and resonsive design?
- Pay users or customers to review objectively your products and services via Video, that can be shared on social media.
- Hire interns to help create content that boosts your brand’s traffic visually on the latest channels (snapchat, etc….)
- Create a blog series that help your B2B partners, not just your direct customers, clients.
If you have insights into brand develoment and creating a reptuation of excellence, trust, crediblity and authenticty give me a comment!?