Anytime a company is starting out or coming back from a transitional period, one of the most challenging issues that can arise is finding ways to ensure the company is perceived as established in order to gain a great reputation and attract clients of high caliber needed to drive business. In my morning reading this week, I stumbled upon a great article from Entrepreneur.com written by Lauren Hooker, Founder of Elle and Company. Below I have outlined some of my favorite pieces of advice that may be extremely beneficial to my current and potential clients.
“1. Create a streamlined visual brand.”
“First impressions are 94 percent design-related, so it should come as no surprise that your visual brand plays a large role in how others perceive the quality of your business. The key to a streamlined visual brand is consistency. You may not have the funds to work with a professional graphic designer when you’re just starting out, but by maintaining consistency with your logo, fonts and colors, you’ll appear a thousand times more professional at first glance.”
This could not be truer. Visual identity is not only crucial to a brand at its start, but in establishing an identity that customers or clients begin to trust and remember. Adherence to and maintenance of a brand is crucial, and your designer (Gabriella!) is prepared to support this endeavor throughout every stage of your business’s growth.
“2. Use high-quality images.”
“Scroll through LinkedIn for all of one minute, and tell me you don’t take the people with professionally-taken headshots a little more seriously than those who cropped their head out of an old casual photo.
High-quality images go a long way, especially for new businesses. Invest in professional headshots as well as branded photos that can be used on your website. Consider having them taken in your workspace or another appropriate environment, make sure the color scheme is consistent with your visual brand and stock up on them so you can use them consistently in social media posts, newsletters, etc.”
In today’s face-paced consumption of information, visual communications is more important than ever. Making sure the images you are using to represent your brand are clear, professional and of high quality are key to ensuring your business is taken seriously. Adding your logo, company statistics, inspirational quotes, et cetera, to high quality images is a great way to tailor content to your audience. Be sure to credit photographer or pay for licenses to use photographs that are not taken by someone within your company. Check out a great list of sites with gorgeous, free stock photos here.
“3. Develop an attractive, user-friendly website.”
“According to Stanford research, 75 percent of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on the design of their website. Thankfully, with the help of website builders like Squarespace, entrepreneurs can easily create a professional-looking website for their new business in no time. And if you’ve already developed a consistent, streamlined brand and have high-quality images at your disposal, creating an attractive website will be that much easier.”
Your website is an online extension of your brand. This one goes hand and hand with tip #1. I would also recommend WordPress as a great tool to build a responsive website with user-friendly means of upkeep. Working with a designer to set up your website is usually best, but being able to maintain your website easily and independently post-set up is going to keep your business running without interruption!
“4. Maintain a consistent, authoritative voice.”
“If you want your business to be taken seriously in its early stages, exercise authority. Take the phrases “I think…” or, “in my opinion…” out of your vocabulary– and go for it with gusto. Own it! Act like you’ve been there before, and demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about.”
What more is there to say? “Own it!”