So you have a business. Maybe you’re an SME owner, or maybe you’re the head of a large corporation. Like with any business, your goal is to grow but you’ve plateaued – you have a steady customer base but it’s staying the same; neither growing nor dwindling. You want to grow, but you don’t know how! This is where the importance of brand image comes in. How do you cultivate a positive brand image? And why is it important? In this post, I’ll be discussing why you should prioritise brand identity if you want to grow, and what better way to do this than to cultivate an online presence?
What is ‘brand image’?
Before we get ahead of ourselves let’s answer the big question: what is brand image? Simply put, your brand image is how people perceive you and your business. It’s what you put out there, what you show your customers, what services you provide! As a result, having a good brand image means customers are more likely to keep coming back, and having a bad brand image means you’ll not only lose customers, but you mightn’t even get them in the first place. Traditionally, word of mouth has been the most reliable means of determining a good or bad brand image, and even still in the internet age, we’re far more likely to go with a service or product if it’s first been recommended by someone we trust. Because of the internet, that isn’t restricted to just friends and family – YouTubers for example make BIG bucks recommending products to their impressionable, trusting audiences. But now brand identity curation has evolved; you DON’T need to rely on word of mouth at all (although it certainly helps!). Now the world is your oyster…
Why are websites a good choice?
What’s the deal with websites anyway!? Maybe you’ve been able to grow your business just fine without one! Many businesses do indeed grow just fine without a website, but if you want to reach further afield than your region or local area, websites are a good starting place to do this if you don’t already have social media. Owned media like websites are often a new customer’s first impression of you and your business. This is where they are going to find your goods and services, and ultimately decide whether to choose your business to fulfil their needs (whatever they may be). So much like with social media, having an online presence in the form of a website is important for brand growth. Let’s think of it this way:
You need a gardener. You nor your friends have ever used one, so you can’t rely on word-of-mouth to find one that is reputable. You do what most people now do; you go to Google. Here you search ‘newcastle gardener’ and a whole stream of results appear and you have your pick at whoever’s services and costs best fit what you need.
Without a website or social media presence, you would never have found the gardener you did, and the same is for your company. That’s the amazing thing about having a website; it opens so many doors for opportunity and expansion that would otherwise be firmly closed. Another fantastic thing about having a website is that it’s yours, well… sort of! Whether a website is yours or not really depends on how you go about making it. If you go with a pre-built website making tool like WordPress or Blogger for example, then you’re a little bit limited in what your website looks like unless you want to really splash the cash. If you’re not tech savvy, or have ten degrees and hundreds of hours in back-of-house coding experience, you might find yourself even more limited again. These websites are good as a starting point, but more often than not, businesses will outgrow them if money is a limited resource. If you’re a niche business, or have specific website needs, then this can of course cause some issues with your overall brand image. This is why having your own custom built website is often the better choice for a business that not only wants to completely own their web presence, but also be able to customise it however they please. Your website is an extension of the work you do; it’s your portfolio! Getting it right is therefore very important, and making sure it accurately represents your brand is paramount.
What about social media?
Ah yes, social media! Many of us now have it in its various forms, but why is it so important? Very similar to having a website, social media can often be the first time a customer sees your brand. I know in my case at least, I’ve found many brands through their social media pages, and in many instances that initial click turned quickly into a sales conversion. Social media is therefore a good tool to know how to use; use it well and your brand can reach the hundreds, thousands, millions! Social media pages are again an extension of your brand and what you do – they also have the handy functionality of being able to very easily interact with your customers and get their feedback in ways that require far less additional interaction on the customer’s behalf. Someone could easily tweet out “@YourBusiness is really great, I highly recommend people try ___; it’s fab!” which is far more simple than emailing or calling you and also serves as word-of-mouth recommendation. It’s a win-win!
The downside is that it’s not owned. You can run your page however you see fit, but at the end of the day (as a former President of the United States has recently just found out) you can lose your following very quickly because you don’t own the platform. Because of this, you also don’t get the kind of customising you’d ideally want to show off your brand to its full potential.
The positives of social media typically outweigh the negatives however; the main one being that it’s typically free. There are things you can do to boost your posts (which you’ll eventually need to stand out against the millions, sometimes billions, of other users) that come at an additional price, but for the most part it’s a free platform that you can do whatever you want with. When you couple it with owned media like a website, you have a very firm foundation on which to build your brand image organically and authentically.
What if I don’t have the right experience or expertise to curate a good brand image?
Don’t worry, we have you covered! You don’t need to be a branding wizard to curate a good brand image, but we do offer some additional support should you choose to go with us as your webshop provider. With our app JustSell, we offer you plenty of customisation options as well as your own owned website to sell your products or services on. At an additional price, out team of marketing specialists will help you get your social media pages up and running, and support you with Google Ads.