Build your brand from the bottom up
How do small companies develop a reputation?
You may be a Zeeland turkey farmer, Saugatuck resort owner, or one of West Michigan’s new medical equipment start-ups. You don’t have a big name yet, but you’d like one. Now’s the time to start building your brand, or shaping your company’s image . . . its personality . . . its reputation. The public perceives your company brand by what they hear and see about you and what they experience when they actually do business with you.
Business owners take control of their company’s public image when they:
1. Develop a mission statement. Everyone who starts a business has a mission, whether they know it or not. It’s their purpose for opening their doors. Your reason for starting a company may have been to repair cars, fix teeth or sell houses. That’s your company’s mission. Write it down. Share it with your staff, your customers and your community. 2. Understand your core business values. What do you value most about the business you’re in? If you’re in the dental business, you probably find value in your work because it makes others more confident in their appearance. You have a hand in making the world more attractive. Voila! You’ve got a mission and values: To help people become more confident by improving their teeth for beautiful smiles. 3. Set goals to achieve your mission and values. Sitting in your office surrounded by thousands of dollars in dental equipment won’t bring in business. To make money, you need to set measurable goals and work hard to achieve them. Sample Goal: Recruit 25 new customers monthly through advertising, speaking to groups and word-of-mouth referrals. Of course, you’ll need to add a few solid steps or strategies to reach this goal. 4. Choose an attractive logo. A picture is worth 1,000 words, but it needs to be the best picture possible to use for your company logo. It should be simple, significant and say something positive about your business. Think Nike. Its sports logo is plain and simple, yet it’s recognized around the world. If you’re not artistic, you may need to call on an expert to design something significant just for your company. A good logo will make your company instantly recognizable, the ultimate goal of branding any business. 5. Develop a tagline. Taglines summarize a company’s mission in a few short, clever words. If you’re in the teeth-fixing business, like the one above, you could simply say: Dr. Smith Dentistry: Smile Confidently. Once your company has a mission statement and core values, your tagline will come to you easily. Just trim the gist of it to a few catchy words or phrases. 6. Communicate with internal and external publics. Be visible. Put your logo and tagline everywhere! Both will speak loudly for your organization. Your reputation grows when your logo and tagline appear on everything from signs, stationery and business cards, to products, uniforms, invoices, websites, reports and advertising. Add to your image by keeping your staff, customers and community informed through brochures, blogs, broadcasting and other means. 7. Provide excellent customer service. What the public hears and sees will be contradicted if your company doesn’t practice good customer service. One bad experience can bruise your brand badly. Disgruntled customers not only lose loyalty to you, but each of them tells at least 10 other people about their problem with your company. It’s impossible to build a good reputation without training your staff in good customer service – and practicing it yourself. Your company’s reputation, just like your own, depends not only on your words and your appearance, but also on your behavior. The best reputations are built on trust. For customer service training, logo design and other image-building services, contact CIS at email@example.com or visit our website at www.weare-cis.com