Factors That Impact Your Brand

By Martin Steinhobel
Content
Branding
Design

Your brand lives in the heads of people. So, while you have some influence over what or how people might feel about you, you do not have total control. That said, what you do have control over, you should be intentional about. But before you begin, you need to spend some time thinking about the factors that impact your brand.

So, what are the factors that most influence technology
consulting brands?

Your services

The services you offer, how you present those services, how you execute those services, and how effective your customers find those services to be, all impact your brand. If your services and their benefits can be clearly articulated, your customers’ experiences with you are positive, and the results clear and beneficial, your brand and your company’s reputation will become much stronger. If not, the impact on your brand might be a little more nuanced. If the services you offer are not clear or are poorly executed or the results somewhat ambiguous, the impact on your brand will be negative. For this reason, it important to keep tabs on how your services are perceived by your customers. Ask yourself:

How are your services designed?
Is this well thought through, and is the design evident to would-be customers? This comes down to your project plans for the services you offer and your approach to project management. Is this evident? Are you telling this story?

How are your services packaged?
Are your services well presented? How do you lay out what you are going to do and how you are going to do it? Typically, this is how you should describe your services: as an overview, perhaps on your website; at a more detailed level, perhaps in a whitepaper or brochure or detail webpage; and at a very detailed level, at the start of a project.

How are your services supported?
What processes do you have in place to check progress and ensure project problems are being addressed quickly and correctly? Are these processes evident?

 

How your people behave and conduct their work reflects directly on your company and fundamentally impacts your brand for better or worse.

Your people

The world interacts with your company through your people. In the services business this is especially true. Even more so when you are sending teams to work on-site with customers. How your people behave and conduct their work reflects directly on your company and fundamentally impacts your brand for better or worse. But these are not the only people what will have an impact on how your company is perceived.

Your sales staff will set a tone that can be good or bad. Your support staff (those who help your customers deal with or resolve problems with your services – in consulting this is often your management team) also have an impact, as do your back-office staff who deal with contractual or accounts payable issues. How these people behave and go about their business impacts your brand.

The way you present your business

Every morning you get up and get dressed and ready yourself to be presented to the world – for that we are all grateful! The point is, we make an effort. We start with our authentic selves and build an image of how we want to be perceived by others. In much the same way you have to build a purposeful and consistent image of your company every day. To do this, businesses need to think about their physical presence and their online presence.

Your offices
Even without ever going to your office your would-be customers are going to form opinions about your business. Your address will have something to say: is it a residential, incubator, shared space, office park, downtown office address? Right or wrong – having an office adds a certain credibility. Companies that can afford decent office space might also attract (and afford) more expensive staff. Signage, and office layout can also add to your credibility. Not investing much in an office environment can tell a different story – either way this story needs to be intentional and consistent with your message and brand identity.

Your online presence 
What you look like online needs to be consistent and help would-be customers get your message. You need to be able to be found. This comes down to what your website looks like and how well it functions. Your content (yes – you need to be producing content all the time!) says a lot about you. As does how it is presented.

This is also a place where you can promote your brand, showcase your brand identity, and engage with would-be customers in more meaningful ways by providing webinars and videos and content that educates and informs.

Bottom line here is that how you present your business to the world matters deeply. For this reason, it’s best that you spend the time to develop plans to present your business to the world in a way that supports the message you are trying to get across. Also, just as your employees represents you, you, and what you look like, represents them. Everyone wants to be proud of what they do and where they work!

Your policies & procedures

Often overlooked, your policies and procedures are another area that impacts how your brand might be perceived. Some companies make this a front and central part of their messaging. For example: LL Bean, which touts a very customer-friendly return policy (although this has changed recently, it is still a key part of their messaging). For service companies this is related to any guarantees you might give, and your processes related to sign-offs and dealing with project issues that reveal themselves after a sign-off has occurred.

In crafting these policies, it is important to understand how they might influence your brand. Sometimes these policies can be an opportunity to promote an element of your brand that you could be overlooking. Think about any terms and conditions you provide, your flexibility in contract negotiations, and your project management processes for resolving issues that might be valued by your customers. Consider highlighting these in your messaging.

What others are (or aren’t)

saying about you

Remember that your brand lives in the heads of individuals. It is a uniquely human thing. It is what people think, and what people think is greatly influenced by that other people have to say. It is for this reason that you should pay attention to what your customers think and say about your business. After all, these are your most important people: these are the people who can help you better understand how your efforts at branding are actually being perceived. They have experienced your brand and will have opinions about it, and in all likelihood are sharing those opinions with anyone who cares to listen.

These are not the only people you need to think about. Tech services can live in quite complex worlds – you might find that you work with partners and rely on other vendors to get customers and deliver the services you provide. Often, customers turn to industry experts for advice or information about solving their problems, so it becomes very important to understand what these people are saying (or not saying) about your business and your services.

And then there is your competition. How do they see you? (Hopefully they know that you exist!) How your brand is perceived will have an impact on how they perceive your business. Understand this: they will take every opportunity to minimize and write you off if they can. But if your business has a credible brand presence in the market they must find other ways to compete. Face it: how they position themselves relative to you and how you position your business relative to them is the very essence of capitalist competition. Needless to say, your brand identity can play a very important role here.

Your company culture

Your company culture sets a tone for everything you do. Decisions you make and positions that you take on ethical matters impact your brand. How you treat your staff and how they treat your customer’s staff will not go unnoticed.

In tech, innovation may be a central part of your company’s culture or an afterthought. There are facets to your business model that can be central to your company’s culture. The point is that whatever these are for you, they have an impact on how your brand is perceived and can be made a central part of your message and brand identity. Examples of this would be: TOM’s, which donates shoes every time you buy a pair; or Trader Joes, which is known for its happy staffers and happy stores.

Having a good understanding of how these factors impact your brand today will give you insight into what changes you need to make and allow you to better craft your story to inform your would-be customers and help shape their perceptions of your brand more fully.

This will help you articulate the story you want to tell: what you want would-be customers and would-be employees to know.

Want to learn more about brand identity?

Check out our Complete Brand Guide!

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