The first thing you think about when branding is mentioned is of course the logo. For a good reason. It’s probably the first thing people will associate with your business. It’s the first thing they see on a website. It’s probably on the door of your store or office. It’s on your business card. But branding is so much more than your logo. It’s the entire experience a customer has with your business and can include:
- graphics and photos,
- store/office styling,
- tone of voice,
- content purposes (informational/entertainment) or
- customer service.
Now I consider myself fairly competent is this area, but there was something I was completely missing that was proving detrimental to my business.
It’s super important that your brand is represented consistently across every interaction. This sounds easy, but many businesses don’t actually define what their brand is and are making it up on the fly. This can have you changing your brand based on your mood for the day. With a documented style for design, written copy and customer interactions you can provide consistency that upholds your core values but also looks a lot more professional. If you are representing yourself differently every time you interact with a customer you will lose credibility.
Don’t fear though. You don’t need an award winning agency to define your brand. Here are my simple brand rules.
- Professional, corporate, modern, slightly techy.
- Sky blue, navy blue, white.
- Font: Proxima Nova
- Written copy
- Professional but conversational.
- Not too technical, but displays capability.
- No cursing.
- Customer service
- Always friendly, helpful and available.
- Don’t charge a bomb or for every interaction.
- Give away knowledge freely, even to non-customers.
- Be the chaser not the chased with all communication.
This brand in my opinion works well for me. It’s something I’m comfortable with. It’s easy to adhere to because it comes naturally to how I want to run my business.
So what was wrong?
My meetings with customers and potential customers have recently been going very well. I actually really enjoy them. Discovering what people are wanting to achieve and then translating that into some kind of solution. It’s the best. Usually at the end, I’m happy and the customer is happy.
But after that meeting, I was noticing a drop off of interest. I’d send through my most considered, detailed and honest proposal. My proposals are nicely designed. There’s plenty of good information in them. I provide a detailed breakdown so that customers can understand and evaluate the components of the project.
So why was this proposal delaying potential customers from signing up? Was it the price, the time of year, the solution I suggested? I finally decided to ask a new potential customer. I gave him permission to be up front and honest with me and let me know what it was that made him pause.
My terms and conditions. The small print, that we assume nobody reads. My terms and conditions did not match my brand. They are stiff, harsh and pointed the finger at the client demanding certain behaviours. These terms did not match the friendly meeting we just had, the promise of a great working relationship or an enjoyable experience at all.
Branding is every part of your business
One of the last places I would have looked at for my branding was a terms and conditions document. Taking a step back though and as I said earlier, your brand extends to EVERY interaction a customer has with your business, and even the fine print on a proposal or contract should be consistent. Maybe there are more interactions that we don’t consider part of our brand but should. If you’ve had a similar scenario please let me know in the comments.