Brand and Image
What is a brand image?
You might think that your brand image is your logo. Like the Nike logo, or the Disney logo, or any other famous logo. But in truth your brand image is every customer/prospect’s interaction with your company that creates an impression. It’s your company’s character. It’s a conglomeration of interaction and observation by people outside your organization: how your phone is answered, the quality of customer service, how your trucks look, or even how your web site looks. It’s what makes your company unique among the hundreds of competitors.
Your brand image should communicate the difference between you and the competition— your reason for being. Your brand image should reinforce your corporate message so that it helps make you stand out in a crowd of look-a-likes.
Why spend money creating a brand image?
The truth is you don’t have to spend a dime creating a brand image! Brand image is something you have whether you try or not. Brand image is what the public sees, it is the image they have of you –either good or bad. If you’re in business today, you already have a brand image.
Customers and prospects already have an image of your company based on everything you’ve done so far. The question is: is your brand image the brand image you want and is it one that works best for your success, and your company’s.
A quality brand doesn’t have to cost a fortune to develop. (see sidebar for how much Nike spent). The most expensive part is the time you take to discover what your company’s brand image should be. What will it take to make your company unique?
Building your brand image
We often hear from clients that they would like to build their brand image after they’ve been in business for a number of years. While it’s great that they are thinking about their brand image, what a difference it would make if they had considered that brand image from day one!
A brand image should be positive. It should reflect the character of your company. It should look like you, feel like you, and smell like you–it must be a reflection of your best traits.
It is better to take positive steps in developing a positive brand image rather than letting it just happen.
A strong brand creates a preference to purchase and an inclination to continue purchasing (brand loyalty).
We most commonly think of branding as something the big guys do with their large ad budgets and extravagant television commercials. In recent years some observers have noted that branding is losing its power. We see more and more people buying generic prescriptions over the label brands. “Would generic be ok with you sir?” But in truth, when you go to buy a new vehicle, don’t you consider the brand? Would you buy a $18,000 generic brand over a $22,000 Ford?
As a small business owner what should you do? The concept of branding is an ideal method of forcing you to focus on what it is that you do, what you want to do, and what you want to become. To create a brand you must develop a set of guidelines for your business and identify how you want your business perceived. How do you want to be seen by the public?
Here are some questions that will help sharpen your perception and clarify your focus on your brand image:
Identifying your brand image
- Why are you in business?
- What makes your business unique? What can customers get from you they can’t get elsewhere? Price? Quality? Service? Guarantee? Product?
- Is there something about your service your customers actually enjoy paying you money to do?
- What are those qualities / services?
- Think about what your customer would say and not what you think they would say.
- What part of your business are you passionate about? Can you formulate that passion into one sentence?
- Discuss with your employees. Get feedback on their perception of the company they work for.
- What is your target market? Do you have a clearly defined service? Customer profile? Prospect demographic?
- What do you offer your customers?
- In a sentence, what is your company’s promise to its customers? To its employees?
Branding image elements
In general there are 3 building elements used in your branded image: logo, slogan, and image identifier.
- Is your company image distinctive or does it look the same as most of your local competition?
- Logo — is it distinctive and imply professionalism?
- Are you comfortable with your logo?
- Does your logo reflect your company’s image?
- Slogan — in a phrase, what does it say about your business?
- Are you using an image identifier that supports your core concepts?
- Are you using that image identifier throughout all of business elements?
- Letterheads / envelopes / business cards
- Brochures / estimate forms / folders
- Advertising media
- Truck signage
- Professional attire for techs working onsite
( bluejeans and a muscle shirt are not professional attire)
- Web site
- Every single piece of communication to customers and prospects
Implementation of brand image
Implementation involves development of 3 elements; installation of the elements; and educating the staff and management as to the importance these elements imply. Input from everyone is crucial before development begins. You are the final decision maker, but secondary input will help you see areas that may cause problems later.
- Is there an integration of your brand-image concept as described above with your logo?
- Does the implementation include vehicles? Equipment? Uniforms? Signage?
- Does the implementation include all paper products? Electronic media?
- Is there a conviction of you and your staff to implement the brand image concept?
- Has the staff been educated about the brand image concept?
Review of brand image implementation
Once installed, review the results, make changes as needed. Don’t wait, don’t procrastinate. Seek areas for improvement.
- After implementation, do you plan to do follow-up discussions on how effective the implementation has been?
- What needs to be improved?
- Will you discuss what the market place thinks and says about your company?
- Can you be objective in those discussions?