First impressions are crucial in business and you only have about seven seconds to make your impact on potential customers. Impact is not only made by face-to-face meetings, but in all outlets available that will reflect who you are and what you do. We’re in a new generation of consumer research and expectations. Good or bad, your brand is out there and your audience is watching. In order to make a positive first impression, you must have a strong offline and online presence with a clear position of what you do different from others.
A brand is defined as a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product or service distinct from those of other sellers. Many variables go into branding your business, but in order to be successful you must invest time and brainstorm to think about why and how you do what you do. This can take time and will require restructuring and reinvention in the future. Things can change and with change must come adaption. At times, re-branding of your original position may be relevant with minor changes, or if you find your brand unsuccessful you may need to rethink and start from scratch.
So where do you start? Here are a few ideas …
Take a look
The first step is to step outside, step back and look at your company, brand or service from the consumer’s position. Don’t be bias and be honest with yourself. Would you buy from you? Ask friends and colleagues and tell them to be honest with you. Constructive criticism is free and while it’s not always welcomed, it can be a valuable tool. Be open to making changes, but really have a solid foundation of what you do distinctly different than others.
Build an eye-catching and powerful logo that stands out. If you own the company or work for a company, a logo should apply to you and your team. You can create your brand at the macro level if a business owner or the micro level if marketing your own brand within the company brand. Use creative color and features and get feedback. Consider getting a trademark with original ideas and use your logo in all marketing materials.
Web site and social media
You must have an online presence and strong Web site with mobile features. I cannot reiterate this fact enough. All too often, I see Web sites that have no clear position, brand or call to action. Many almost look as though someone used a typewriter to type some unedited text and convert it to a Web page. Your potential customers are online and must be able to locate you and what you clearly offer and why you are unique from others.
Be consistent and get followers
Use your brand and vision in all promotions and make it spread. Be excited and motivated for what you offer and influence others around you to share your message through their experience. Build a customer and business partner following and never deviate from your position. Be creative and innovative.
Developing the right brand for your business can be a game-changer. Invest time in development until you believe you have perfected what makes you distinct.
Andy W. Harris, CRMS is president and owner of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Vantage Mortgage Group Inc. and 2010-2011 president of the Oregon Association of Mortgage Professionals (OAMP). He may be reached by phone at (877) 496-0431, e-mail [email protected]
or visit www.vantagemortgagegroup.com.
This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.