For the last three weeks we have been talking about branding and how:
Today we’re going to wrap up with a bit of an audit!
1. Stationery and printed material
Have a look at all your stationery (business cards, letterhead, envelopes, with comps slips) and printed material like flyers, proposals, posters and advertisements.
Now ask yourself if they are consistent in:
- Look and feel
Your stationery should set the foundation for how you present your business. Why would you have a professionally designed logo, only to throw it haphazardly on an A4 document in word, print it out on your desktop printer and call it ‘letterhead’? All this does is tell people you are not taking your business seriously.
The same goes for flyers, proposals, advertisements and basically anything that has your logo on it. You are better off doing nothing than pulling together a flyer in Publisher using clipart and dodgy design. I know it’s tempting, but honestly, don’t do it.
When you have all your printed material in front of you, be dispassionate and try to look at them with fresh eyes. Anything that is not supporting your brand needs to be re-done, or simply dropped off rotation until it can be re-done.
2. Personal presentation
It goes without saying that how you dress and present to clients is a major factor in how they are going to perceive your services.
We’re a boutique design business in Leederville, Western Australia. Our client base is shifting from predominantly small businesses to a mix of small business and medium to large enterprises. This means that while it’s nice that all our staff are dressed neatly in jeans and matching polo shirts, it’s now become inappropriate for our project manager to be dressed this way when taking client meetings. While our small business clientele probably appreciate the relaxed approach as it’s less intimidating, it makes new clients who are more corporate feel a little less comfortable about engaging our services.
In addition, the way we speak on the phone, in meetings and in written communication also plays a huge part and utter consistency is needed here too. Letting ourselves slip even slightly into a frustrated or patronising tone of voice is not consistent with our branding of being friendly, approachable and ‘nothing to hard’, so this needs to be monitored constantly as well.
3. Web domains and emails
The world is a super savvy place these days and the tiniest things can affect the impression people have of you. If you are running a business, one of the very first things you should do is secure the domain name for that business, even if you are not planning to get a website yet. Nothing tells me someone is not taking their business seriously than when they have the email address email@example.com, or worse, firstname.lastname@example.org.
There seems to be a line of thought that a gmail address is much more professional than a hotmail address, but no, it’s just not! It’s so cheap to register a domain and get email hosting these days, there is simply no excuse not to do it.
4. Office presentation
Your office doesn’t need to be all marble floors and glass reception desks to support your branding, it just needs to be neat, tidy and well presented. The next time you approach your office, pretend you are a client coming through the doors for the first time. What do you see? I suspect you will see the dead plant on the shelf, or the bit of carpet that has come up at the wall, or the overflowing bins! These little things are all easy to take care of but can make a big (and unnecessarily negative) impression on new clients when they come to meet you for the first time.
The final word
Today’s business world is super competitive and often the decision to use your business as opposed to someone else is based on something infinitesimal. By addressing and removing all the little things in your business that are not currently supportive of your branding, you might be surprised to find how quickly you can increase your ability to convert interested enquirers into long term, loyal clients!