So, why does your brand image matter? And how the heck to start managing it
Here’s the thing: Whatever you’re offering—a product or service, locally made macramé or global McDonald’s franchises—you’re in the business of public relations whether you like it or not. Because, when it comes to business, your brand image is your public image—the impression your clients and customers (potential and actual) have of the product or service you offer. So, before you even shake a customer’s hand, your brand image is connecting and engaging with your audience. So, the question is: What message is your brand image communicating about your business?
Enter, brand management
Just like public relations manages a celebrity’s image (and, ahem, scandals), brand management manages a brand’s image, strategizing (and executing) how to present your brand so it’s perceived positively.
To delegate brand management to your marketing team would be a disservice to your business and its audience because brand management is bigger than graphics and ads. It permeates every facet of your business, from the tangibles (like your product design, packaging and pricing) to the intangibles (like the experiences you curate for your customers online and in person).
So, how do I manage my brand?
We know what you’re thinking: All of this is well and good, but how do I actually manage my brand image? Well, it’s as multifaceted as your business: Is your business online or in person? Are you offering a product or a service? Are you selling business to consumer or business to business? There’s no easy answer because your management plan will be as unique as your business. But, there’s an easy place to start. Here’s what we recommend:
1. Know thyself
First things first, it’s difficult to control the dialogue if you don’t know what the dialogue is. So, start with knowing who your business is and what it stands for. Only then can you understand if the public perception is on target with your goals.
2. Google yourself
Next, research. You can start with Google—read reviews, Facebook comments, tweets, articles, you name it, to understand what the public’s perception of your business is. Then, get your boots on the ground for in-person research and interview customers with targeted questions.
3. Get social
Now that you know the differences between how you want to be perceived and how you’re actually being perceived, you can start to course correct. Actively engage online and in person to rewrite your brand messaging and start building a new (and improved) image.
4. Be consistent
Of course, it’s not enough for you to lead the charge single-handedly; you need to train your team to share the same brand voice and messaging and build a consistent image across all of your platforms, online and in person. Whether you’re delivering a sales pitch or recovering from a lackluster service experience, your team needs to be on the same page with your brand image.
5. Utilize the tools
Like public relations manages that celeb’s public image, brand management is all about managing your business’ public image. So, to get pro status, start at the beginning and understand how you want your brand to be perceived. From there, brand management will only get easier.