Marketing and branding are about your public identity, or what others think of you and your business. Even your lack of an online presence speaks volumes about your branding. Perception matters in business.
When you have a brand you’re proud of that authentically represents you, you attract lifelong clients who advocate for your business. It also means referral partners are compelled to refer to you, as they are in line with your views and can trust that you will provide an exceptional level of service to their clients. Here’s how you can do that:
Take control of your image, your brand and your public perception. Social media makes it easy for a reputation to be tarnished. People more often complain about a negative experience than write a positive review, especially if you haven’t provided anything exceptional for them to write about. So, you have to be on top of it and driving it yourself. Start by Googling your name to see what you find.
Determine your image or brand. Do you like what you found on social media when you searched for yourself? And what would you like people to see? What do you want to represent? What traits do you want people to think about when they think of you and your business?
While you, as a business owner, may want to have a particular image, it may actually be different from what others see. For business branding to work, all team members need to be on board and included. Everyone’s opinion is important, as it is the perception of others that counts. You might think you are showing that you are “professional” or “a point of knowledge” or “fun,” but if that’s not what other people see, then it’s not working.
Start with a brainstorming session with staff where you collectively formulate an image or identity that you want your business to be known for.
For my company, JBS, we did this by having a whiteboard and calling up every word we felt JBS reflected, from professional to fun, educated to reliable, and passionate to empathetic. We then grouped the words that were similar to come up with this:
Create | Protect | Enjoy — to create long-term wealth, to protect yourself, your family and your investments, and to position yourself to be able to enjoy your success
Everything we do encompasses these words, and not only for our clients but internally within the JBS team. It’s what we stand for. It’s our brand, our motto and what we believe in.
Whenever new team members start, we introduce them to our logo and motto and what JBS stands for. We need them to understand, from the initial employment interview right through to their interaction with clients, exactly who we are and why we do what we do. We live and breathe our brand, and our clients know this.
Things that could improve your branding and public image might include the following:
- Keep the colors of all your materials the same.
- Include your branding in your social media profiles.
- Use photos of yourself or your team in email footers and websites.
- Post on social media and keep your posts in line with your image.
- Send birthday or anniversary videos to clients.
- Send personalized videos to clients after your meetings.
- Provide welcome packs to clients.
There are many things you could do, but more than anything, you must think about the interactions you have with clients and make sure they consistently convey your image.
Consistency and reinforcement of the message and brand is crucial. We use the same profile pictures and include all our educational qualifications in our bios on our website, LinkedIn, advisor ratings and anywhere else our clients would look.
Every business card, email, letterhead — all material with your details — puts out an image. It all should show your business identity, so that it’s easier for a potential client or referrer to understand your business and how you operate.
We also celebrate, including on our social media networks, when a team member completes a new study, obtains a new accreditation or wins an award. We prove every day that we are hardworking by having clear service standards everyone on the team is aware of.
And we definitely show our fun side. This is probably the main theme for JBS. We understand that our clients would expect us to be highly educated and hardworking, but we love to have fun too!
What if clients don’t like what they see?
Not everyone is going to like everyone, so if prospects aren’t in tune with our philosophy, they’re probably not going to enjoy or be happy with the service we provide. So, we’d rather they see our image and determine if we’re right for them before they contact us. This eliminates any time wasted.
You may think your social presence isn’t important, but perception is a person’s reality. Have a say in that reality.
Jenny Brown is a 15-year MDRT member from Mount Martha, Victoria, Australia. She is the founder and CEO of JBS Financial Strategists. This was excerpted from her 2017 MDRT Annual Meeting presentation “What color is your business?” (MDRT-member exclusive content)
For more about branding, read:
- Read “Building conversations” (Available in nine languages)
- “Finance, fashion and feminism: How to step into your authenticity to build your brand” (MDRT-member exclusive)