When starting a business, an entrepreneur has many things to consider. This ranges from their startup capital, client roster and product/solution to their immediate access to the market. One of those key aspects of their business is their brand and communication, more specifically whether it will have a positive or negative impact on their desired clientele.
One would assume that all brand efforts, including logo, communication and website would be built with the desire to leave a positive impression on the client. The thing is that while nobody intentionally goes out to design or create something that may be detrimental to their marketing efforts, it nevertheless happens, and it happens all too often. A huge mistake many entrepreneurs make is simply going through the motions when creating these client-facing brand elements, the idea being “it doesn’t have to be the best, it just has to be good enough”. Many entrepreneurs make the assumption that their product will carry them and that is all that matters, however before you get the chance to impress with your groundbreaking solution, you need to first get the attention of the client.
For businesses, new and old, there are various brand championing pieces of their communication that are essential to establishing positive perception in the public eye, inspiring action through inspiring the viewer.
1. The brand itself is the foundation
Your brand is the foundation of your company, it is the identity from which your product, solution and service presents itself to your clients. It is very often the first port of call when you introduce your business, it lives on physical collateral you hand out, on social media and on your branded website. It represents your culture, your ideology and ethos, and gives your audience a look into the kind of business you are.
Yes, many great companies, with amazing products that have incredible and hardworking staff, have what we could deem as less-than-desirable branding. Their brand has no bearing on whether their actual work is of value, but its impact on how a new potential client or member of the public perceives it, at face value, is undeniable.
Modern professional and inspiring brands engage with their audience, tell a story and give off an intangible impression that should speak volumes about their business, without even having to say a word. By not investing in their brand, many SME’s are starting off on the back foot, and in the age of countless options just a click away, consumers are making their choices on first impression, now more than ever.
2. Don’t skimp on your website
Your brand is a foundation, your website is a window into your business’s soul, and is the closest thing you have to an automated brand, product and service walkthrough. Better yet, it never sleeps and will do the job of speaking on your business’s behalf, even when you’re not able to.
This vital piece of brand identity and communication is also the most interactive, which is why neglecting it is a very bad decision. Your clients, potential and current, as well as the general public, are expecting a pleasant experience. Easy navigation, clear messaging and engaging content are the fundamentals of a great website.
According to the renowned Nielsen and it’s Global Trust in Advertising yearly reports, a branded website is the second most trusted form of advertising and for good reason. We live in a time where everything is online, so now its not good enough to simply be online, you have to represent yourself online with pride and professionalism.
3. Digital Profile
Don’t confuse this with an old school, expensively printed, high gloss or matte booklet that your client never reads, and it ends up in the trash during their next office spring clean. This piece of digital communication is there to serve a purpose, either unpacking your business, business model, or even service offering or to showcase your projects and inspire through visuals and clean design. It’s an extension of your brand and champions its identity, yet very often SME businesses neglect this and it presents itself as a text-heavy Microsoft Word jumble. Not very inspiring hey?
Some might say, well what does your website do if you need this as well? The simple answer… you can’t enforce the way your clients consume information, and currently, for many people, an easily shareable document is still the best way to pass on your work. Also something to keep in mind for SME’s and entrepreneurs doing work with corporates, compliance and submission wise, this is often essential, you can’t be submitting the link to your website when the process for submission requires something on file.
Building a brand is a process, which requires considerable thought, attention to detail and passion. A brand that ultimately establishes a positive name and place in the industry for itself, is built over time and requires a lot more input and consideration than the three focus areas highlighted in this post. However, in the age of instant gratification, where time is money and we expect quality from the get-go, your clients don’t have time to look deeper into your business, especially if their first impression is not very good. A quality brand and CI, coupled with an inspiring, professional and easily navigable website gives you that positive first impression and gets your foot in the door. This coupled with the same attention to detail in an easily shareable high-quality document, shows consistency, and caters for many who still require these documents.
Many will wonder why social media is not on this list? Well the social media consideration runs a bit deeper than surface level brand perception and also has its own set of considerations depending on the business model, whether B2B or B2C, and your content. – Look out for an upcoming post that looks at social media and how it impacts the communication quality of a business.