Branding: First Impressions Are Lasting Impressions

Yesterday I walked into the lobby of a small business to attend a meeting. The receptionist sat behind a glass window staring at his computer monitor, which partially blocked his view of me and my view of him. I stepped a little closer to the window, hoping to catch his eye, but he was oblivious to or, worse yet, disinterested in my presence.

In two seconds, this company’s branding message glowed like a neon sign: “We’re unapproachable.” I was nearly overcome with the urge to tap on the window and say: “Excuse me, but do you know your branding stinks?”

If your company thinks branding begins with the colors you have chosen for your website, the design of your company logo, or the tagline you use on all of your marketing collateral, think again. Branding is everything…your company’s personality, values, employees…even the look and feel of your lobby. It is the promises you make to me, and more importantly, the promises you keep. It is the way that I, your client or customer, perceive you to be.

Your branding message is communicated the minute I walk in your door, read an email from you, check out your company website, or talk on the phone with one of your employees. You can make me feel welcome and help me learn about you, your products and services─or you can communicate that you’re just too busy, too big, or too darn profit-driven to care about cultivating a lasting relationship with me.

Either way, I’m going to judge you quickly, and you have precious few seconds to make me feel valued.

It makes a difference if your employees are warm, courteous, well-versed in what you have to offer, and appreciative of the time and/or money I’m willing to devote to you. It makes a difference if I can look at your website and, within a second or two, know who you are, judge you to be credible, and understand how you can benefit me. It makes a difference if your email to me is graphically striking, easy to read, and avoids messages that fairly reek of insincere sales pitch.

Think of it like our first date. For Pete’s sake, show me you care. Be interested and interesting. If you want me to go out with you again, make me feel special.

My first impression of you is probably going to be my lasting impression. Make the most of that moment.

Diane Hallock, Principal, Hallock Communications, a Minneapolis-based marketing company. To learn more about how you can build lasting client and customer relationships,  call Diane at Hallock Communications, (952) 927-0086 or visit: www.HallockCommunications.com.

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