For small businesses, it is crucial that you establish yourself as a brand on all your communication channels to reassure those trying to get in touch that they have reached the right place. There may well be things you forget in the early days, but the sooner you can brand all of the ways you communicate as your own, the better as far as helping your customers identify you is concerned.
One of the first modes of communication will be the website. You should make sure your company name and logo is visible on every page, and have a consistent way to refer to your brand. If you are a fence construction firm called ‘Tom’s Fences and More’, for example, decide whether you will call yourselves ‘Tom’s Fences and More’, ‘TFaM’, TF&M’ etc. so that you don’t end up with lots of inconsistencies on your website. Sticking to one rendering of your brand name will also help people search for you and know they have found the right company right away.
Your emails should also be branded with your logo and company name, ideally in the signature. However, for consistency, you could also specify a certain font, colour or formatting style for each employee to use when using their company email address. If customers are emailing two employees about separate matters and one employee is using bright red, bold font and the other a tiny blue serif typeface, this is sending out mixed messages about what your company wants to be.
The next thing to turn to should be your phone line. You might think that there is no branding to be done here, but you’d be wrong. Firstly, invest in a good quality system, such as an Avaya phone system, for maximum functionality and high audio quality in calls. Then you can go about creating, or commissioning, an answerphone and holding message which give off the right impression about your company. Maybe it’s confident and professional, or fun and friendly. Whatever it is, use it as a valuable opportunity to brand your company.
Your social media is an extremely valuable way to brand your business. If you have more than one person maintaining the social media, make sure they are synchronised in the way they communicate. If one person is casual and posts lots of entertaining material and the other is very serious and formal, it will confuse your followers who may choose not to interact in case they get the tone of the social media conversation wrong, so keep it consistent.
However, it is also worth noting that your brand’s voice, while remaining prominent, should be adapted for each social media platform. On Facebook, you might want to stimulate conversation and discussion, whereas on Pinterest it’s all about the imagery, and you could brand each image with a logo to make sure it can be traced back to you when it is repinned. Twitter might be about encouraging people to retweet you, while LinkedIn will be a more professional representation of your brand voice without losing the personality of your company entirely.
Paolo Donadoni is a brand reputation consultant, helping businesses build awareness through successful brand marketing