Here are five tips for building a strong brand image.
Assess the difference between your actual brand image and what you’d like it to be
Perhaps you’ve been trying to enhance your brand image for awhile. Is it working?
To find out, you’ll need to go straight to the source. There are many ways to do that:
- Survey your customers to get their feedback
- Conduct in-depth interviews or focus groups
- Monitor social media conversations about your company
- Track your online reviews
Activities like these will give you an idea of what your brand image actually is. At the same time, you should think strategically about what you’d like it to be.
Forbes suggests clearly defining your vision and identifying what emotions you want to be associated with your product. To manage your brand image successfully, you’ll need to continuously look at your real and desired brand image to make sure they’re aligned.
Create brand guidelines and stick to them
Once you’ve decided what brand image you want to project, it’s time to translate that image into identity materials and customer interactions. As marketer Sujan Patel suggests, you want to think about everything from logo and colors to typography and the “voice” of your communications. Creating clear guidelines can help make sure your branding efforts are consistent, purposeful, and effective.
Patel also emphasizes the importance of following your brand guidelines once they’re in place. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to be completely rigid with the rules. But, Patel warns, “keep in mind, every time you deviate from your stated brand guidelines, you dilute their power by some small amount. By doing so, you’re essentially introducing a new brand image to your customers.”
Leverage your online and social media presence
Every day, consumers are helping shape your brand image on social media. While you certainly can’t control what people say, you can encourage your customers to be a force for good.
Your website is another crucial point of interaction between you and your customers. As branding expert Bobby Donohue says: “Your website has to flawlessly represent [your] vision.” Since potential customers will likely look you up online, your website will go a long way toward communicating your brand image to people who are less familiar with your company.
Make sure everyone’s on the same page
Donohue also recommends ensuring that your employees and partners have a clear understanding of your brand. “Make sure every person [your customers] meet represents the brand well,” he says.
Whether they’ll be communicating directly with your customers or talking with friends and associates off-hours, members of your team help shape your brand image every time they mention your company.
Similarly, PR firm Sterling Communications notes that your brand values should be communicated throughout your company, since “every single person in your company is a brand ambassador.” They suggest surrounding yourself with employees and partners who understand and buy into your vision: “Build your brand promise from the inside out.”
Put all of the pieces together
Finally, a strong brand image is consistent across all points of contact with employees, customers, potential customers, and everyone else who interacts with your company. Everything we mentioned above — marketing materials, website, social media, employee interactions, office space — should present a unified picture of your company.
As you consider all of the elements that go into your brand image, think about how they work together. Apply your brand guidelines, and educate your brand advocates. It can be challenging to hit the sweet spot where your desired brand image corresponds exactly with reality. But that’s what successful companies do.