So, you’re probably thinking, “OK, my brand is important, … but it isn’t EVERYTHING.”
Well, you’re right. But that isn’t what I meant.
The success of your business depends entirely on the perception that clients, and potential clients, have of your business. For everyone that considers doing business with your company, you must accept that their perception is their personal reality. And those perceptions can come from any little thing connected to your business. Things you may not even be aware of, or may have failed to notice.
As an example, let’s talk about the sign out in front of your business. You probably bought a shiny new sign when you first opened your business. You proudly put it out there, even before you opened the doors. It was colorful, and beautiful. But have you looked at it lately? I mean really LOOKED at it? Maybe it’s five years old. Maybe ten? Does it still represent your business the way you want to be perceived? Have you freshened up your logo since you bought the sign? You might not have realized the sign no longer matched the rest of your marketing efforts. You probably didn’t notice that those bright colors had faded, and if you leave at 5 or 6 o’clock you may not have noticed that a couple of the lights are out, or the neon is flickering.
But potential clients are going to notice. And if that’s the first and only impression they have of your business, they may decide that your business looks a little shabby, and may never walk through the front door. You may have lost a client before you ever had a chance to introduce them to your products or services.
And how about your employees? YOU know what a great guy your neighbor’s nephew is, and that you can count on him every day. If his dress is a little unorthodox, and his hair style unusual, he makes up for it by being a solid employee you trust. But what about the client who’s never met him? What about the guy who made it past your shabby sign, and actually walked through the front door? What’s HIS impression of your employee going to be? Will he perceive your business the way you want him to, based on his impression of the first employee he encounters?
When was the last time you took a really close look at your staff, their uniforms and their hairstyles? Have you stopped to listen to the way your employees talk with a new, prospective client? Have you told them, recently, what they should say to someone who has walked through the door for the first time? Are you sure that each of your employees is representing your business as you want it to be represented?
After you got your wife a new car, and your son bought his first pick-up truck, your driveway was getting a little crowded. But the parking lot at work had plenty of room, so why not park the recreational vehicle there? Business is a little slow, and the parking lot hasn’t been full in months, so what’s the harm? It’s not a problem, is it?
But how does that look to somebody who has never visited your business, but drives by every day? Would they think, “Can’t the owner afford a proper storage space for that thing?” Or maybe “Where’s the owner’s focus? Surely not on his business…”
Perceptions of your business can come from any little thing, a dirty rest room, a broken shelf, or a late opening when a customer is standing outside waiting. Each of these things affects your brand. Each of them makes up a part of your brand Image. But here's the good news! Along with your logo, your advertising, your website and your excellent service, each smile you give a client, each pleasant greeting, becomes a part of your brand as well.
Because, … your brand is EVERYTHING.