You’ve heard it before, I know. You have seconds — seconds — to make a good first impression with your brand.
Depending on who you ask it might be seven seconds. It might be three. It might be a split second.
You’ve got to make an immediate positive impact, or you’re toast. The worst part is that you may never get the chance to make an impression again.
The pressure’s on. Where do you start?
I’m here to tell you that it’s actually not that complicated.
In fact, you’ve probably heard some of this advice before. It may have been in a slightly different context, but it applies to your brand, too.
1. Plan the effect you want to have
Before you develop a brand for your business, you need to have a crystal clear idea of what you want to say and who you want to say it to. Successful brands start out getting to know their audiences well before they try to appeal to them.
Identify who you want to reach, and study this group. It’s easier than ever to join in their discussions, follow their patterns of sharing, and generally stalk them (benevolently) before you try to approach them.
Once you understand them well, formulate a brand message that you’ll communicate consistently using all the tips that follow.
2. Dress the part
An important element of knowing your audience is understanding what motivates them.
Sound like a tall order? It’s not if you dig in and discover what they’re already buying — the brands they already like. Once you’ve got this, you’ll know how to dress the part to fit right in.
Or, you might decide to not fit in, on purpose. That’s a very valid way to make an impression (but it takes courage).
Dressing the part means using a website theme that reflects how you’d like your business to be perceived. It means choosing brand colors, finding the right fonts, and even using print materials to make a consistent positive impression, no matter where your audience comes across your brand.
3. Stand up straight and make eye contact
Dressing the part isn’t everything, of course. You’ve got to work it.
And by that, I mean you need to own your look, and not be afraid to put your brand out there.
This means embracing at least a couple of social media platforms and posting to them regularly. It means using content to spread your message. It means putting your brand out there on a regular basis, whether through blog posts, webinars, speaking gigs, or interviews.
4. Speak their language
Want to communicate effectively with your audience? Speak their language.
And I’m not talking about their native language. I mean use the words they use, exactly how they use them.
I know, I know … you’re not a mind reader!
Go back to tip one: it’s easy to pick up the language if you listen closely on social media, in your blog comments, and even in your email replies. Notice the phrases your audience uses to express their frustrations and challenges.
If you want to get even more hands-on, consider conducting a series of interviews with a focus group.
Last year, I asked Big Brand System readers to volunteer to be in a focus group. I called twelve people individually and asked them a series of questions. In exchange, they could ask me a question or get my feedback on something.
It was the most satisfying — and productive — market research I’ve ever done.
Yes, it took time and effort to coordinate and implement. But when it was done, I had pages of notes that were like gold to me. I knew intimately what my audience was frustrated with, how they spoke about those frustrations … and even what I could do to help.
5. Direct their eyes to your best attributes
In the course of your marketing you’ll need to emphasize your latest promotion, your next big offer, or even your free giveaway.
The most efficient way to draw attention to this offer — whether it’s on the web or in print — is to set it apart visually.
Think three things here: size, color, and placement.
Make your offer larger and brighter. Set it above or to the side of the rest of your content. Surround it with white space so it stands out.
6. Be yourself
The best brands find a way to make you talk about them.They make themselves remarkable.
They’re not wishy-washy or half hearted about anything. They make a true and lasting connection with their audience through real, open conversations. Their visual impact makes them easy to recognize, even from a distance.
You know where they stand, and what they stand for.
When your brand exudes that kind of confidence, you’ll have achieved drop-dead gorgeous status. And that’s the kind of status that helps to build a business from the first click.
About the Author: Pamela Wilson founded Big Brand System to empower small business owners with marketing and design information that gives their businesses an edge. Want to learn more about using images to communicate? Sign up for the free 12 Days of Visual Buzz series here.