There’s a good reason why we’re all familiar with the old saying “You get only one chance to make a first impression”: it applies to every single relationship and interaction we have.
Think about the last time you interviewed for a corporate job. You dressed in your best business attire, right? And you did your homework so you were prepared to talk knowledgeably about the organization and the position you were seeking. You knew that your first impression could go a long way toward making (or breaking) your chances with that company.
Now think about all the other sorts of “first meetings” you’ve had in your life. Remember your first date with your spouse (and—perhaps even more nerve-wracking—your first meeting with his or her parents)? Or how about the first time you met the new neighbors next door or your kid’s teacher or one of your company’s vendors? In each of these situations you developed a first impression based on how the other party looked, behaved, and presented himself or herself.
But although first impressions can be strong and sometimes hard to change, that doesn’t mean they’re permanent. Each time you interact with someone is an opportunity for your impression of him or her to be restamped in your mind—and vice versa.
This is especially important to keep in mind when considering corporate branding. Branding helps an organization catch the eye of top talent and get noticed by both current customers and potential clients. It’s the public face that a company turns to the entire world.
Unfortunately, few companies truly understand what effective branding entails. Too many think that all they need to do is hire a designer to create a logo, then use the logo and its Pantone colors in all their advertising and office decor.
But remember, impressions are made based not just on appearance but on behavior, too. So sure, your company should use its logo (and theme colors) as much as possible: letterhead, business card, stationery, social media profile images, e-mail signatures, etc. But that’s not enough. Your organization needs to be conscientious about every single way it interacts with clients and prospects.
Infusing your interactions with a relentless barrage of branding could actually turn people away if they feel that you’re wasting their time. So be sure that your branding efforts includes content that makes their lives better by giving them something (say, some knowledge useful for their businesses) useful that they didn’t already have. Good branding should also reach out to clients in engaging and innovative formats (after all how many generic-looking postcard mailers and e-mail blasts are catching your eye these days?). And the best branding efforts do both.
In today’s crowded branding market, companies need to be extra smart to attract attention. Don’t just dump your brand everywhere indiscriminately! Take the time to target your audience and craft a branding message and presentation that appeal to their interests and needs. Being more conscientious about your branding could ensure that you’re not wasting your clients’ time—and not wasting your efforts—and instead making powerful impressions that can have big positive impacts on your business relationships.