by Ginger Marks (Guest Blogger)
What is a business image? It is the unspoken representation of your business. It defines how others perceive what you do and who you are. Simply said, it is your business identity. The business that has no business image in place actually has a poor business image. Therefore it is important they you create an image today if you haven’t already done so.
When you consider what you want your business image to evolve into, think about the way you would want to be perceived. Would you personally go out in public without being properly groomed? I doubt it. The same holds true with your business. Things like, lack of stationary and re-used packaging illustrate to your customers that you are too cheap to or don’t consider them valuable. While you may think that being fugal, pinching a penny here will cut your bottom line, they may conceive this seemingly insignificant act to mean that you may not be in business the next time they need your services.
What are the critical components of a professional business image? There are several pieces to be considered. While the whole may be different for each individual business owner, there are five key elements that make up a solid business image that must be addressed. Can you guess what those five would be?
Let’s put our puzzle together.
- Business Name & Tagline
Your business name is vital to you. It is one piece that cannot be ignored or taken lightly. Because you will carry this name with you for many years to come great care should be taken in the selection. It is not unheard of to change your business name, however each time you do you risk losing customers. So think carefully, get input from trusted friends and decided on the name that best fits your product or service.
Your business name should easily reveal who you are where your tagline should reveal what you do. Keep it simple. A long and complicated tagline is easily forgotten or confused. Take a cue from the corporate giants, short and sweet, direct and to the point, make for memorable taglines. See if you know these taglines. Most of these I am sure you will recognize are:
It’s the Real Thing
You’re In Good Hands
Bring Out the Best
Fly the Friendly Skies
The Ultimate Driving Machine
And my personal favorite
We Make YOU Look GOOD!
Here are the answers, how’d you do?
It’s the Real Thing – Coke
You’re In Good Hands – Allstate
Bring Out the Best – Hellmann’s
Fly the Friendly Skies – United
The Ultimate Driving Machine – BMW
We Make YOU Look GOOD! – DocUmeant Designs & Publishing
Be sure your tagline contains two important elements, that of emotional and functional words. It needs to quickly describe what you do. If you want to open a pet store, don’t simply name it The Pet Store, that’s a little stale. Try something memorable like, Paula’s Pet Emporium or Perfectly Petaculous. One note on personalizing your business name, if there is even a slight chance that you may want to sell your business in the future, leave off the personalization. I am sure given the choice, as a buyer, you would prefer not to buy the business just to turn around and have to change the name and lose those loyal clients.
Selection of your logo is of paramount importance. The three things to remember in designing your logo are that it is easily recognizable, matches the look and feel of what you wish to portray and the colors enhance the image.
When deciding on your logo a bit of soul searching and research before you begin the process is a very good place to start. Find out what is out there already, don’t imitate, be unique and creative. Use the competition as a starting point to give you some ideas, DON’T copy!
The colors you choose should be carried throughout all of your business materials. If you use red and green or blue and white – stay with them when designing your website and stationary.
Speaking of stationary, let’s move on to the importance of well designed business materials.
Stationary items that should be considered are letterhead, envelopes, business card, and forms. Your local office supply store has a number of business forms available for your use at a reasonable cost. Nevertheless, what do your customers think or perceive when they receive them? Does it show permanence, longevity and commitment? Spending just a little more time and money to create forms and stationary that are uniform can greatly affect your business’ perceived value.
- Marketing materials
Marketing materials should always carry your business identity. These items may be as small as a pen with only the name and address of the business. Items in this category should include brochure(s), flyers, coupon, gift certificates, card and postcards, and t-shirts, hats, and other giveaway items. Pens are often the giveaway item of choice; people tend to hold on to them, and if lost or shared the new owner has your information. We call this “shelf-life” or your product’s “life cycle.”
As mentioned earlier, your image gives your business a uniform look and feel when all of the elements retain a oneness. Your storefront/website is no exception. Whether online or offline this is your main source of customer interaction. Solidify your presence and demonstrate your credibility and reliability quickly. Let them know within the first few minutes what you do and how well you do it by presenting your unique business identity in the forefront of your business location.
Take a step back from your business; look at it through your customer’s eyes. If need be poll your customers to get a clearer vision. Once you have decided the image you want to represent you, use through your entire business. Be it fun and whimsical or clean and professional, your image is an unspoken representation of your business, becoming its identity. As such, it will speak for you more clearly than words. When you have a complete business identity it ensures your customer will easily recognize who you are, what you do and demonstrate your competence.
I challenge you to define or review your current business image. Ask for customer feedback and then solidify your place in the market. With all your pieces carrying your single message you will further exclaim your permanence.
© Copyright 2011 Ginger Marks
Ginger Marks is the founder of the DocUmeant Family of Companies, We Make YOU Look GOOD! For more information, visit http://www.documeantdesigns.com/. Her annual edition of Holiday Marketing Guide, Your business-marketing calendar of ideas is available at http://www.HolidayMarketingGuide.com. She also offers a wealth of knowledge through her ezine Words of Wisdom available on her website.