How Good Is Your "Brand Handshake"?

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First impressions are everything, especially when it comes to meeting new people and potential clients. Handshakes in particular are one of the corporate world's first interactions with someone.  It’s the unspoken words of your personality and how you do business. Some good first impressions of someone might be eye contact, a firm handshake, a smile, and open body language. 

First impressions matter in branding too. That’s why it’s incredibly important for business owners to focus on relevant marketing. In fact, according to Malcolm Gladwell, brands have exactly 2 seconds to make a good first impression to win people’s business, “…based on stored memories, images and feelings.” 

2 seconds is not a lot of time to win over an audience, but it can be done. I’m going to share a few tips with you on how to make that killer first impression. It begins with going back in time, and checking out how your company performed in the past, so that you can determine next steps.

Take a Look At Your Previous Customers Experiences with Your Brand

Analyzing how your previous clients see your brand and product is the ultimate starting point. This might sound a little backwards, because there are many different points of your brand you could start with. But, this is the most crucial. This free data has already been provided to you, and is invaluable to your business insights. Customer feedback is like a compass; it will help you navigate through the journey of change.

Think about it. In most cases, previous customers are happy to provide feedback on an experience. You can send out small surveys, and collect data that way, or give them a call. Include a small incentive as a “Thank you,” to those people for their time and effort (like a coupon or a freebie). This shows that you care about your customer, and that you value the relationship you have with them. 

Now that you have your data, take some time to sift through it. Some things you might ask yourself are…

  1. Who am I attracting with my brand and services?

  2. Is this the target market I originally intended?

  3. What is my company doing right?

  4. What can my company be improving?

  5. Are my customers coming back, or making referrals?

By the way, each question could be re-worded and asked to your previous customers. It could look something like this…

  1. How did you find our company and what attracted you to us?

  2. What did you love about our product / service?

  3. What do you think could be better about our product / service?

  4. How highly would you recommend our product / service to a friend or family member?

You know the ins-and-outs of your business. You know the right questions to be asking. These are a few basic pointers that I believe anyone can benefit from.

Ultimately, your OWN data should be giving you major clues as to how people already perceive your brand (without having to ask strangers or look at random analytics).

NOW You Can Look At Your Brand Visuals

Brand visuals are so important. This is where the brand “handshake” comes in. When potential customers visit your website, social media page, or any other “store-front” extension of your company, they make their decision on whether to buy from you in the future. It’s more important to make a good impression on a potential buyer the first time, even if they don’t purchase anything for the first few years. (It means that you’ve already won them over. Time and building communication is the next effort.) 

What are some things that help people like your brand?

Consistent Looks & Feels

You can probably spot a Cheetah anywhere. (No pun intended). If you were in the middle of New York City, and saw a Cheetah, it would still look the same as the Cheetah out on the African plains. Now, it might be a little shocking. The location may gave changed, but the Cheetah itself didn’t change. The Cheetah is still the fastest land animal, whether it’s in the big city, or tall grasses.

The same thing can be applied to your brand (logo, experience, aesthetics). Customers should be able to recognize your brand wherever they are, in whatever context, and regardless of medium. Your physical and web presences should mirror each other.

If you’re not sure on what might look “good,” right away, check out my article on How to Spot Good Design Immediately. It has some excellent and simple tips on improving your design eye.

Level of Relevance

Another thing to consider is your target demographic (a.k.a. your potential client). Consider who you are currently reaching, and who you are trying to reach, and see if your goals line up. This helps customers know if your company is the right fit for them, depending on your aesthetic and messaging.

Take Adidas for example. They want to target and reach people who are athletic. They probably wouldn’t be targeting someone looking for a house, or someone who was hungry. That’s a very, very, basic example. But to get the point across, it’s important to stay relevant to your market. Your company is filling a need where there is a void.

Communicating Authenticity

Back to the handshake topic. Have you ever been able to tell if someone wasn’t genuine in their interaction with you? Maybe they were happy to meet you. Or, maybe they wanted to try to sell you something, and their friendliness had a deeper motive. Personally, this bothers me. 

Surprise! It also bothers your potential customers. Yes, selling a product is what makes the company stay afloat. However, honesty and trust go a lot further. So, when you’re putting your brand out in front of someone, make sure it’s backed by something. Make it personal.

A great way to do this is to use positive customer testimonials. Statements where you helped solve the customers problem are fantastic. It shows that you are about their experience, and met their needs. It also builds trust with future customers. Are you showing the genuine side of your brand? Or the sales-y, corporate side?


Let’s Recap!

Your brand is your non-verbal handshake. It says a lot about your company, and people can see if you’re the right fit immediately (in 2 seconds to be exact). Looking back at previous customer experiences is a gold mine of data. By reading your customer feedback, you learn about the high and low points. Analyzing your visual brand is the next step. Ensuring that the physical and digital experiences feel consistent is crucial. Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you’re talking to the right market with honest, authentic, messaging. 

These steps will take some time to complete. In the end, it makes for a stronger brand, company, and possibly an impressive handshake. 

What makes you stand apart from everyone else? What do you think makes a killer first impression? Drop me a comment!

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