Your Brand - Your Reputation
There is a common misconception when it comes the definition of a "Brand". Your 'Brand' is composed of experiences a customer can expect when they deal with your company. That can be anything from your website and brochure, your office decor to the way you answer the phone. Many small businesses assume that branding doesn't apply to them and that it's only for the Nikes and the Apples. Reality check.... If you're not managing your corporate image, who is?
Whether their first experience is through your website or the business card that you hand out at a networking event, that first impression isn't one you can get back. Professionally designed and branded marketing materials tell potential clients that you value your business and that you are serious about the product or service you provide. In this case, the perception is the reality. If your corporate image is sloppy and unprofessional, why would someone trust you with their business.
You should look at your branding efforts as an investment. What's the old adage?...You have to spend to money to make money? Well the only thing more expensive than hiring a professional is hiring an amateur. You are really good at what you do. If what you do doesn't include graphic design & marketing then put the mouse down and step away from the computer. Too often small businesses try to create their own marketing materials. More often than not, businesses and organizations fail to understand the true benefits of hiring a professional to handle their branding and marketing efforts. They say, "Oh I just designed it on my computer and printed it in the office." That kind of behavior can damage your company image. It can damage your brand and that has far reaching consequences. It can affect your ability to get new clients. It can affect your ability to charge the rate you're worth. It can affect your ability to have the business you dreamed of.
Just because you can..doesn't mean you should. By the same token, there are plenty of aspects of your business that you must manage. You can have the best brochure on the planet but if you don't return your customer's phone calls, you won't keep that customer very long. Your branding efforts must be a balance between your visual brand (logo, marketing materials, website, etc.) and the experience that customer has when they interact with your company. Make sure that experience is a good one.
Monica Jones is owner and president of 3D Studios a brand management firm specializing in helping businesses and organizations get in front and stay in front of their target market. http://www.3dstudios.net
Monica is also creator of the B2B Bash a business to business networking community that hosts super cool, super funky networking parties. The Bash is held after work at nightclubs, lounges and other cool venues across New York. It's a social life for your business. B2B Bash is a new way for businesses and organizations to mix and mingle. http://www.b2bbash.com
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