Why Brand Image Matters More Than You Think
Brand image is more than a logo that identifies your business, product or service. Today, it is a mix of the associations consumers make based on every interaction they have with your business.
Most entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t really think about their brand image until there's a problem with the image they're developing.
I know I didn’t think seriously about my own brand image until years after founding my agency 10 years ago. Business owners often associate brand image with expenses and unnecessary fluff that add no value to their existing product or service. They are so focused on making their offerings the best that brand image is forgotten.
The reality, though, is that brand image matters. It matters a lot. Here’s why brand image goes beyond branding as we know it:
Brand Image Makes An Impression
We know that making a good first impression is important, especially in business. Consumers will create an impression of your business and brand based on a variety of factors, such as the way your employees are dressed, your website, your business cards, the cleanliness of your store and more. Call it superficial, but these small details are points of contact you have with potential customers. In this case, presentation is everything.
I spent a lot of time on our business cards and I remember how impressed our clients were with the results. Although a business card itself doesn't make a sale, it does make a good impression about the expected brand promise. Rather than going for a standard card, we opted for a matte finish with custom die cut and spot UV to highlight our logo and add a tactile element. These small upgrades truly made a difference in the appearance of our business cards and showed customers that we were a brand to be taken seriously.
Brand Image Creates Recognition
You can probably spot an Apple device, a piece of Tiffany's jewelry or a can of Coca-Cola from afar. It may look simple, but it takes a lot to make your brand this recognizable to consumers. It’s not just about the logo or slogan; your brand image encompasses both visual elements and brand associations like speed, reliability and quality. If you don’t put the effort into maintaining a consistent brand image throughout every interaction a consumer has with your brand, you’ll find it very hard to develop an easily recognizable one.
As a service company, we learned early on that part of our brand image involves our relationships with customers. This was so important that we decided to tie it into our company culture and values. We encourage our employees to build relationships with our customers and care about their campaigns as if they were their own. We like to think of ourselves as an extension of our customer's teams.
Brand Image Shows How Put-Together You Are
Imagine walking into a restaurant where every server wore whatever they wanted, or a department store where no one wore a name tag. How could a customer identify who to turn to for help? Everything might be running smoothly in your eyes, but a polished brand image is necessary to show that you know how to run your business. The opposite of that? Chaos.
Even simple things can signal to potential customers that you didn’t just start your business yesterday, like having a professional email address. Having started my agency with a heavy creative focus, I was lucky that I had the resources to make our outward brand image look put-together, even if it wasn’t so on the inside yet. Thanks to our creative team, we had a state-of-the-art website, professional sales collateral and an overall professional image
Brand Image Builds Credibility And Equity
Believe it or not, your brand image is paramount to building credibility and loyalty among potential customers. If you consistently work at maintaining a stable brand image, be it the freshness of your food or your packaging, it contributes to a consumer’s relationship with your brand. The more often you can deliver on your brand promise with a strong brand image, the easier it will be for consumers to remember your brand and what it stands for.
Because we want our brand to stand for great customer service, we work hard at coaching our employees to deliver the brand image we have built up over the years. We regularly discuss our core values and culture code to ensure that everyone on our team knows what is expected and how we want to position ourselves in the market. Having a team that understands the company's core values is key to ensuring they make the best decisions in their day-to-day interactions with customers.
The Bottom Line: Brand Image Matters
Brand image is important for any business. When consumers buy a product or service, they aren't just buying a product or service; they're buying what your brand stands for. That's why it's so important to design your brand image to convey exactly what you want it to say. I recommend thinking about your brand image as a whole early on. Be intentional about your brand image and build it from there.