Friday, June 6, 2008
Business Image... What's that???
Sure, we've been talking about the importance of building your personal image, but have you stopped to consider the image of your company or the company you work for? At some point, we've probably all worked somewhere that we weren't proud of. I know when I was 18 (yes, just a few short years ago) I worked for a company that provided security guards for construction sites. Let's just call it Mr. X Security. Though I generally liked the people I worked for, I really dreaded going to work. The office that I worked in smelled musty, the drywall was crumbling, the carpet was in terrible shape, the windows were permanently foggy, and the place was literally falling apart.
Over time, the owner of Mr. X Security began to add other odd jobs to his scope of work. He started offering cleaning services (though I am positive that no cleaning had ever taken place in that office) and, at some point he tried offering child care services. It's not surprising that the quality of client and the quality of employee the company was attracting was let's just say... sketchy.
Hmm.... what went wrong here?
Let's start with Branding. When people see your business, they want to understand what it is that you do - what services you offer. In a company named Mr. X Security, it certainly seems out of place that they would offer cleaning services and child care which have really no connecting points that I can think of. It's not that you can't offer separate services or products...it just needs to make sense.
For example, say you want to open a theme park and you want to call it Music World. Great! So you start to add in music themed rides, musical entertainment, a resort featuring great musical eras, a restaurant featuring famous musicians, etc. Good start. Now, you decide it would be cool to add in Dinosaur Land as part of the park because you think dinosaurs are really cool and because you found a bunch of them at a great price and they will take up a lot of space in your theme park. You'd also like to add in a high speed race track and a kid's oversized play area. Hmm... really?
It's so important that your customers (and you) are able to connect the dots. Once you added in the dinosaurs and race cars, the brand got cloudy. If you can tie them back to music then you might have something. If the kid's area featured oversized musical instruments, maybe a tuba that they could crawl through, etc. you're on the right track. Now, you might be thinking, I've seen theme parks that feature all kinds of stuff - race cars, talking mice, flying carpets, you name it. The difference is that their brand is defined as "magical" or "make believe" or "an escape from reality" - now you can throw in the kitchen sink!
The other piece is the first impression and overall experience that people get from your company. If you have a cleaning company and your office is filthy... no deal. If you advertise as being the "friendly alternative" to dentistry and your receptionist is rude... no deal. If you have a spa that is advertised as "pure bliss" and your customers have to walk through a convention area, a noisy check in lobby, and crowded elevators... no deal. You MUST deliver on your promise. Think about what your customers might expect and over deliver. I promise, if you have a cleaning company your customers will expect your office, vehicles, and employees to look clean and well groomed.
Another example, if you have a company named InBliss, you will want to be sure to offer services that help to make your customer's personal and professional lives more successful, more rewarding, and more blissful in general. Hopefully I've delivered on the brand.
For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at WWW.InBlissConsulting.com.
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