Setting your business apart from the competition in a crowded field can seem like an insurmountable challenge at times. Thankfully, this can be done by creating a powerful, relatable brand image that resonates with your target audience. The question is, how do you clarify and enhance your brand image in a world with so much noise?
What is Brand Image?
“Brand image is more than a logo that identifies your business, product or service. Today, it is a mix of the associations consumers make based on every interaction they have with your business,”
“Most entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t really think about their brand image until there’s a problem with the image they’re developing,” Thimothy explains. “I know I didn’t think seriously about my own brand image until years after founding my agency 10 years ago.”
If you talk to Thimothy and other business owners who failed to prioritize their company’s brand image from the start, you’ll quickly realize this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Brand image isn’t just something you talk about in company meetings and synthesize into nice little PowerPoint slides – it’s the fabric of your company and an integral part of who you are and what you do.
Most importantly, your brand image is what defines you in the marketplace. It dictates how customers view your business and how much they’ll spend on your products and services.
4 Steps to Enhancing Your Brand Image
If your business has been operational for any period of time, you already have a brand image. You may have carefully controlled and guided that image, or it’s possible that it was created rather unintentionally. Regardless, you have the option to change and enhance your company’s brand image as time passes.
A brand image isn’t something that’s cemented in stone. It’s a malleable construct that can evolve over time. If you’re interested in enhancing your brand image, here are some specific action steps you can take:
#1. Enhance Visitor Experience
Many of today’s companies spend a lot of time building and shaping their brand image online. While this is extremely important – and will be explicitly discussed below – don’t underestimate the importance of in-person interactions. Keeping this in mind, one tangible way your business can prioritize brand image is by enhancing the visitor experience in your office and/or store.
“When it comes to visitor experience, first impressions are everything. As soon as clients walk into your office, you want them to see who your company is and why they should want to work with you,” explains Andy Alsop, President and CEO of The Receptionist, a leading visitor management system. “In other words, your visitor experience can make—or break—your brand image.”
This is why the most successful companies put their most personable people in customer-facing positions and equip them with digital tools that enhance the in-person experience. You want your customers interacting with people and technologies that represent the brand well, not just individuals who have technical abilities and talents.
#2. Create Consistency Across Touchpoints
It’s impossible to create a brand image that’s anything other than chaotic if you don’t commit to establishing consistency.
“Customers like knowing what to expect from the interactions they have with your company,” says Marianne O’Connor, a PR professional in Silicon Valley. “This means you need to deliver brand-consistent experiences across sales, customer support and accounts receivable calls, in all your direct marketing efforts, on social media channels, throughout your PR and advertising programs, on the web, etc. It extends to the tone and personality your people and processes take when interacting with customers and prospective customers anywhere along the line.”
If there are inconsistencies in your current brand image, part of enhancing your image means focusing on smoothing out rough spots and developing a cohesive “look” and “feel.”
#3. Develop Stronger Brand Voice
When it comes to marketing, advertising, PR, web design, social media, and other visible components of your brand, voice matters. You need a strong and consistent voice that connects with your audience and properly pushes the image you want to project.
Developing a strong brand voice is no easy task. It requires a lot of hard work and a commitment to exploring and defining each aspect of your business. If you’re looking for some help in this area, this branding agency has some guidance for companies in your position.
#4. Gather and Implement Feedback
You never want to be a company that operates in a silo. It should be your goal to listen to the marketplace and understand how they perceive you. Then, you can make the necessary tweaks and adjustments to grow and improve.
In terms of brand image, there are many different ways you can gather feedback. Overt techniques include sending out surveys, setting up focus groups, and conducting studies. Less obvious options include social listening, studying purchase behaviors, and reviewing website analytics.
Once you gather feedback on your brand, you need to be a company that actually implements what you’ve learned. Your goal is to satisfy your target audience, so there’s no sense in going against what they want. As long as it doesn’t violate your core values and principles, there’s nothing wrong with changing.
Make a Long-Term Commitment
Your brand image is based on the way customers currently view your company. If your brand image isn’t currently where you want it to be, the good news is that you can change perceptions and enhance how people see your company. What you have to understand, though, is that it takes a long-term commitment.
You can’t change your brand image overnight. In most cases, you can’t even do it in 6-12 months. However, over time, a steady commitment to a consistent brand image will yield positive results. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to sit down with your team and create a game plan for how you want to attack this challenge.