Powered by the shift to e-commerce in the last two decades, and mobile commerce in the last 5 years, most large brands have adapted to existing in a multi-channel online world. A recent survey reported that less than five percent of the traditional in-store retailers remain offline – and many of those are brands that have probably lost their relevance and you may not even recognize them anymore. That said, more than 85 percent of the population are “brick-and-click” multi-channel shoppers, who search for products in one channel but purchase them from another.
As more customers adopt multichannel shopping, they have increasingly demanded consistent experiences across each of these channels. New research begins to offer insights into some issues with cross-channel marketing activities, where customers’ experiences with a brand in one channel may affect the brand image in another channel. Early studies of internet retailing viewed the online channel as isolated from the in-store and other “offline” channel. Turns out that it was a big mistake. Multi-channel, always-connected shoppers don’t separate internet shopping from other forms of shopping; rather they are likely to consider it as a part of their entire shopping experience. Today, because virtually all online customers are multichannel shoppers, the effects of a brands’ online AND offline marketing activities on customers’ perceptual, attitudinal, and behavioral responses must be examined in context.
Suffice it to say, while online marketing is a great way to gain a lot of exposure for your brand for a relatively low amount of money, maintaining a strong brand image offline is still tremendously important.
Offline brand image is even more critical when a lot of your customers are businesses and corporations. For this category of customers, first impressions and brand image are among the most important factors in their decision-making process.
So, how can the same online brand image be projected and maintained offline?
First impressions matter
It is a fact that you just can’t ignore: first impressions matter. When you’re visiting a client for a meeting or going to see a vendor’s production facility, the way you present yourself will impact the way other parties see the brand. The same can be said for representatives and employees of the company.
Why would high-flying tech startups in Europe start investing in better company cars for their sales execs? A popular used BMW Edinburgh dealer recently received an order for a fleet of 5-series BMWs from a tech start-up who wanted to make sure their employees arrived in style and made a positive first impression – projecting success, status and financial horsepower (so to speak). When asked ‘why the extravagance?’, leadership said they wanted their customers to know that they’re not the typical “boot-strapped for cash start-up”. They have the financial backing and stability that should give their customers the confidence they need to make a six-figure software investment with a start-up. Probably goes without saying that their sales people don’t mind cruising in comfort in a luxury saloon as opposed to turning up stressed and sweaty after a 3-hour train ride to meet with a customer.
The best companies weave the essence of their brand into the company’s culture. Employees must know how to present themselves and represent the brand. In fact, a good corporate culture can turn employees into valuable branding assets, since they will love the brand so much and will be more than happy to promote it in a good way.
A Memorable Business Card
Even when it is so much easier to exchange contact information digitally, we still rely on business cards to introduce ourselves. It seems obvious, but your company’s business card is a branding opportunity. It is the first touchpoint to introduce yourself and say who you are as a brand.
Let’s say you’re running a creative agency. Introducing yourself and presenting a bland, uninteresting business card will not be effective. The person receiving the business card will most likely forget about the introduction and possibly even doubt your company’s ability to think creatively.
it’s more important than ever to stand out of the crowd. So be creative, explore design and format, and most importantly, be true to your brand story. Focus on your business card as a single tool to represent your brand, tell what it stands for and why it’s unique. A sommelier, for example, should have a very different approach to its business card than an event photographer.
A business card that stands out, will produce the right first impression and fuel the conversation further. There are plenty of business card ideas to learn from and when choosing a design or concept it should be true to your company brand.
Last but certainly not least, always go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction. Simple touches such as flowers sent to a client on his or her birthday go a long way. Adding those personal touches helps build a stronger relationship and is one the best ways to strengthen your brand image offline.
“Clients don’t want to just be part of ‘the system.’ You, in hopes of building a long-term relationship, should strive for a better connection to not only benefit your clients’ needs but, also, your integrity in service.” — Business2Community
Of course, these tips can be applied alongside your online branding campaigns. Both efforts can support each other in creating a positive image for the company. Creating a strong online presence and reaching millions of potential customers is important, but you should never forget about maintaining a strong brand image offline.
Remember: customers use brands as an important tool for organizing information and simplifying their decision-making both online AND offline. They will respond to a brand’s story and make that story their own based on their past experiences with the brand.
Moving your business to the #TopRight requires a deep understanding of your customers to not only create a compelling story but also to share it in formats and channels that they consume. Learn how to create the right Story, Strategy, and Systems with our latest eBook Transformational Marketing: Moving to the TopRight.