How to Build Your Business Reputation and Brand
People often confuse brand with reputation. Both are intangible, valuable assets for any business, large or small. Simply put, a brand is your company’s identity, the way it’s perceived by its customers. It’s also what distinguishes it from other companies. A reputation is more like a track record of how well your company has performed. Both are important, and both are vulnerable if you’re not careful to maintain them. Building a reputation or a brand isn’t something that you can do once and stop. It’s something that you must reassert, day after day. While it may be never-ending, you can improve your results by focusing on some key areas.
Keep it Simple
Who is your audience and what story do you want to tell? What problem is your company trying to solve? These are the questions you must answer before you can create an effective brand strategy. Make sure that your message is simple, clear, and consistent. Don’t be vague. “Excellence” could mean anything, and “professional” is something customers expect already. Use concrete language to show your audience exactly what you can do for them. Apple’s slogan, “It just works,” was so successful that it has entered the popular lexicon and is now used to describe all manner of products and services. Boil your message down to its simplest form. If you’re tired of hearing it, don’t worry. Messages need to be consistent and repetitive to hook customers.
Make sure you know exactly what you’re capable of delivering. If you overpromise, your customers will be disappointed. If you can underpromise and overdeliver, your customers may become loyal devotees. A well-crafted brand will set you apart from the competition, but exceeding customers’ expectations will boost your reputation.
Encourage Customer Reviews
Encourage customers to leave reviews. If you receive negative ones, respond positively and do your best to resolve the situation. Always stay professional, even if the customer is unreasonable. Positive reviews will help build your reputation; the way you deal with negative ones will help build your brand.
Be Part of a Community
Getting involved in the community is a great way to improve the public’s perception of your company. This could include fundraisers, charity events, or other good causes. Even if your business exists completely in cyberspace, try aligning it with a good cause. Not only does it provide additional advertising, but people will also be more likely to do business with your company if it is socially conscious.
Share Your Expertise
If you’re an expert, share that knowledge with people. Write articles, speak at events, answer questions online. You may have to do it all for free, but that exposure can go a long way toward building up your reputation as an expert in your field. If you are the face of your company, both you and it will benefit from this exposure.
Although brand and reputation are distinct, they are inextricably linked to each other. By following these basic guidelines, you can go a long way toward improving both.