Your brand is what your company stands for in the mind of the customer. Many people believe branding is nothing more than a fancy logo. While this helps people notice you, your brand is so much more than that. Your brand is how your company is perceived overall in the marketplace. That’s why it is really important to plan how you want your company brand to be perceived. Is it a luxury brand image you are seeking? Is it speed and efficiency you want as your brand? Your goal as a business leader should be to enhance your brand to contain the image that is important to you while emphasizing what benefits to your customers set you apart from your competition.

What is your brand currently? Start with a list of attributes of your company you want to emphasize. The type of business you are in can play a role in what you want your brand to be. A heavy equipment manufacturer may not want to be perceived as soft and caring. After you have that list, talk with your current customers and employees. Get their feedback on how they perceive your brand. This can be quite eye opening for many people. The customer will tell you how you are perceived. It is then up to you to enhance you’re messaging across the entire company to promote what needs to be changed. This will include employee interactions with customers, you logo and catch phrases, your website and your social media efforts.

Branding is truly a company wide effort. How your brand is perceived in the marketplace really starts with customer interaction with your employees. Do all your employees from the C-Suite to the loading dock understand what your company brand is? Has everyone been briefed on why branding is important? Let everyone know that their interactions with customers are important to the brand image. Tell them specifically how to react to customers. A good example for many large retailers is a “no hassle” return policy. If each employee at the customer service desk does not understand this, your customer may be treated badly and your brand will be damaged. Enhance your brand by getting all employees from the top to the bottom of your organization onboard.

Every marketing interaction with your existing and potential customers should be scrutinized to be sure your branding message is included. Check your brochures and other marketing materials. Do they include important branding items? Do any of them include items that don’t match your branding? A good example may be the image your website gives to site visitors. This interaction and messaging with the website may be your only chance to get that new customer. If you are promoting quality over price as your brand, you sure don’t want your website screaming “Sale, Sale, Sale”. Even your beautiful logo may be giving the wrong branding message. Too bold or too soft? The image should enhance and reinforce your branding.

Branding is how the customer perceives who you are, what you do and what principals your company embraces. There is never a better time than now to review your branding. Make sure your employees understand your branding objectives and the importance of their interactions with clients. Make sure all your peripheral marketing and web presence emotes your branding. Make sure every person and marketing material that customers interact with are all on message. Branding is very important to establishing who you are in the marketplace. Enhancing your brand will build new customer relationships and in turn make your company more profitable.

(Source: John Ernst, Consultant, UGA SBDC in DeKalb)