What does your brand image look like? Do you have a good idea of what your business looks like from the outside looking in? Have you given it due thought or has it grown accidentally over time without conscious thought? Why does it even matter?
These might not be questions you’d considered beforehand, but if business isn’t looking up and you’re experiencing a lull it could be time to rethink your brand and consider working on your company’s image.
Why brand image is important
Your business isn’t operating in isolation. You’re playing a game with multiple players all with different skills and a fickle audience.
Your brand is your modern day advertising placard, except for the fact that your audience don’t have to walk two hundred metres to see your competitor’s marketing scheme – they can view it all from one device.
A contemporary customer wants to be able to relate to you and your brand enables this, and a good brand image will allow customers to do this quickly.
Your brand is also the springboard from which to launch everything else concerning your business. All advertising springs from here, as do all communications – and it’s important to remember that when you’re working on rebranding.
To create a brand image you first need to understand your brand identity. This is your USP, your special x-factor that makes you unique, making you stand out from your competitors. It’s how your customer recognises you, gets to know you and relates with you. It’s the foundation of loyalty in a fickle marketplace.
This also needs to be consistent. Your customers should know exactly what they are getting when they engage with you, so you need to be sure of that too. There should be a consistent tone of voice, whether you’re formal and professional, relaxed and fun, or humorous and witty. This should feed through to everything your business does.
How you are seen
Once you know how you want your customers to view your brand, you can then ensure this happens. You brand image affects your advertising, communications, supplier relationships, social media platforms and every facet of your business, so it’s important you go through the motions to make sure you’re coming across how you’re happy to be viewed.
This also allows you to make sure you are appealing to the right audience and are more likely to be found by them.
Coming back to social media
We can’t just skim over social media like that, and neither can you, because it is so central to brand image. Your social media presence should be absolutely core to your business brand. It’s not just about visibility, but also about consistency and reliability.
What’s great is that social media is relatively low cost to manage. This makes it an exceptional branding tool for small businesses. Be proactive with it, keep consistent to your brand, and build those relationships as you meet customer expectations.
Measure that your brand image is working
Social media is also great for you to measure whether you’re pitching things right and whether your brand image is doing you favours. How’s your following doing and your engagement rates? Google Analytics is a useful tool which can help you here too.
This should all be about knowing your audience and knowing that you’re addressing them where they are and meeting their needs consistently. Remember your tone of voice and use it in every interaction your customer and audience has with you.
Protect your image, and refine it
Your brand image is your business. It’s the part people see. Therefore you need to guard your brand image closely, but also refine it over time as you grow and times change.
Realise that your brand image is central to your success. Review it, give it thought, and make it work for your business.