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Making your brand’s first impression count

No second chances

It’s a well-known fact that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is the case in all walks of life, and especially in business. Competing in a crowded marketplace may be challenging, but creating a positive first impression can give you an advantage that will last.

Israeli-American psychologist Daniel Kahneman talked about a 'halo effect', where your first impression of something sets up your subsequent beliefs. Recovering from a negative first impression is incredibly difficult to do, so it is vital that your company image reflects your business positively and accurately, to create a first impression that will draw people back to you and cause them to remember your brand for the right reasons.

Every outward-facing facet of your business has the potential to be the first impression for someone, whether they walk past your office and see the foliage outside the building overgrown and unkempt, or if someone is driving behind a company van that is clearly in need of a wash, these are all first impressions and can stick in someone’s mind.

Ensuring you make a positive, and hopefully lasting, first impression is a sure-fire way to build your business through attracting new customers. You must also remember that people talk, and you have to assume that those who have encountered your brand (especially sadly, if it’s a negative experience) will be telling others about their experience. Wouldn’t it be great if the impression could be so stand-out positive that their conversations are positive, ending up as referrals and new business?

The aware and the unaware

When it comes to first impressions in business, the people to create a positive impression on fall into two groups. The first group are those who are not only uninformed of your business and the products or services you offer, but also may be unaware of the reason for your offerings. Or more simply put, they may not have given their attention to certain challenges and are therefore oblivious to the ‘solutions’ available that you offer. Your job here will be to attract attention and educate these people on the type of issues they might need to address. This is commonly described as ‘demand generation’ and can often be achieved through an awareness, content or advertising campaign targeted to the relevant industry or personas.

The second group of people are those who are already aware of their problem or need and are looking for a solution. This group are likely to be ready to take the plunge and will be quicker and keener to engage with the right service or product. But they will likely be doing much of their own first stage research online, so tailored content, easily found by search engines with the right terminology, should enable them to discover you. Making a great impression at this stage with a reason/call-to-action to reach out to you, is vital.

Excellence of execution

The simple way to create a best first impression is to leave nothing untouched by excellence. This sounds simple, but is notoriously difficult to do because it is often human nature to look for flaws in things, and this is often done in a matter of seconds. Your biggest task will be to make those seconds count by ensuring your brand touchpoints are dripping in quality.

 Assuming you have an idea of what delights your customers, you must tailor your website experience and customer journey towards this goal of delight, and not just in a shiny or friendly way – you are in business to make money so a call to action that really speaks to your audience will have a spectacular effect if done correctly.

Use of imagery, video and all things visual are crucial to gaining and keeping attention, but these must also be tailored to the audience and their journey to the end goal. Quality is key here, and a small investment in professional photography, graphic design and video or animation can provide a lasting effect that far outstrips the upfront cost.

Word on the street

Quality copy should not be forgotten – the term ‘style over substance’ can apply when the visuals attract but the messaging and story are lacking. Your aim should be to ensure your copy projects your brand as an authentic and trustworthy source, and in the best case, a leader in your field. Remember that in branding, your words are also key to your success, and the tone of voice you use must be agreeable and chime with your target audience.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can easily kill your brand! What your potential customers read or hear about your brand could form a first impression before you even get a chance to put yourself in front of them! Depending which survey you read, between 70-95% of customers read product reviews before making a purchasing decision, and 58% say they would pay more for the products of a brand with good reviews. So promoting or acquiring endorsements, such as reviews and testimonials, is a great way to let this highly valuable ‘social proof’ do wonders for your brand.

A recipe for success

When Dame Mary Berry pulls a beautiful cake from the oven, its perceived quality generates a reaction from TV viewers – this emotional reaction is key, as viewers are attached to ‘Brand Berry’ even though they will never get to even taste or smell the cake.

Mary says “I think baking is very rewarding, and if you follow a good recipe, you will get success”. Branding is the same. Formulating a tasty brand recipe and then baking your brand ‘cake’ will go a long way to gaining you those positive first impressions.

If you’re looking to create a great first impression in 2023, and need an agency that understands your industry, get in contact with Rachel Arquati to find out how the Clear B2B team can help you.

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