There are a ton of things that small businesses and their leaders need to keep on top of in order to be successful. Cash flow, marketing, and customer service all have their role to play. So does branding. Branding can be a big deal for businesses, but it’s easy to make mistakes with it. So what are some things you can do to improve your brand image?
Follow a Set of Values
When people talk about branding, a lot of the time what they are referring to is the visual image the business presents. While it is true that consistency in visual branding absolutely matters, it’s not the only aspect of branding you need to pay attention to. The values of your business are another aspect of branding that warrants attention. Part of what a business’s brand image could be translated to is what the company stands for. It’s important to realize that today’s customers are increasingly concerned about supporting businesses who have values that they can identify with.
Figure out what values your business wants to stand for and make them an easily identifiable part of your company and its culture. Be consistent in following them, both for the sake of your customers and your employees. Few things will harm your credibility as a business quite the way that saying you value one thing but then acting opposite to it will. You better believe that if you’re telling either your customers or your employees one thing but doing another, it’s going to get out and damage your brand and reputation.
Deliver Great Customer Service
Few businesses can get away with delivering poor customer service without severe damage being done to their bottom line. In contrast, it’s hard to overstate the benefits of offering amazing customer service. One of them is increased customer loyalty. Loyalty is a big deal for small businesses. By delivering on offering great customer service, you give yourself as a business a chance to earn that loyalty. The more loyalty your customers feel as a result of the awesome service you offer, the more they will trust your brand and its image and the more willing they will be to stick around.
Connect With Customers
You can’t just expect a new customer to understand what your brand is all about just because they interacted with you briefly one time. It takes time to learn what a brand is all about, which means you need to make an effort to connect with them. That means taking the amount of time the customer needs you to take, not rushing them through your process just to close out the sale. Invite them to go on a journey with you and make sure you’re fully committed to the ride yourself. Your business’s customer journey should be designed in such a way that allows you to showcase some of the elements of your branding without shoving it down their throats.
Secure Your Website
Every business should have a website these days. It gives you the chance to connect with far more consumers than you would otherwise. The downside to having a website, especially if your website supports transactions, is that it leaves you vulnerable to cybercrime. Just like poor customer service, it’s hard to survive as a small business if you become the victim of cybercrime, especially if sensitive information is stolen. It doesn't even matter if the compromised information is yours or belongs to your customers. They’ll assume that if one has been compromised, the other can be easily enough. That can do some serious damage to the trust they have in you and the reputation your brand has developed. Make sure you take steps to secure your website in order to prevent that from happening. Using the right software can protect your website from IT threats. You’ll need to make sure it’s updated on a regular basis to avoid unnecessary vulnerabilities.
Influence the Narrative
The image your brand has is closely connected with the reputation you’ve developed as a business. Because of that, it would be foolish to pass up opportunities to influence the narrative as far as your business and its brand is concerned. Take an active approach to this. It’s a good idea to invest in some serious PR legwork. When your business does something good, like giving back to the community in some way, or reaches a major milestone, let your customers and community know. It’s totally okay to brag about this, and if it’s in line with your brand image it will only strengthen it. Share it on the social media platforms you use. Write a blog post about it and post it on your website. Alert the media, if you think it’s something newsworthy. Hold a press conference. The point is that when you get the word out about good things about your business, you make it easy for people to have a positive perspective of you.
Dare to Be Different
Think about it for a minute. Every business that has become a household name has a unique brand. Walmart is all about low prices. Apple is about sleek, forward-thinking innovation in the realm of technology. Comcast is about having the worst service ever and being the most hated company but still managing to be disgustingly successful as a business (just kidding - that’s probably not actually what they’re aiming for with their branding). Each of these businesses has something that they use to set themselves apart as being unique from their competitors. Take a leaf out of their book and find something that you can offer your customers that sets you apart as a business. Capitalize on that thing and make it a part of your brand to make it stand out more.
Improving the brand image you put out as a business is a good thing for any business to do, but it’s even more important for small businesses. Small businesses have a tough go of it when it comes to competing with larger businesses, and sometimes even competing with other small businesses as well. If you want to level that playing field a bit, take the time to define and cultivate the exact brand image that you want your business to have.
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