Crafting a great brand is no easy task and can take months, even years, to solidify. But the effort is worth it when your customers are loyal and engaged, and your competitors try to mimic you instead of mock you.
Still, a brand, like a personal reputation, is a fragile thing. It can be damaged by rumors, or be outright disgraced by bad behavior -- or poor press. This is especially true online. After all, once something is on the internet, it’s never truly gone.
Here are five steps to take to help ensure that when your next new customer Googles your brand, he or she will like the results:
1. Respond promptly -- especially to negative reviews.
Reviews. Oy. Whether you’re a retail company or a B2B vendor, reviews make or break your success. If you’ve just built up your branding, you may be worried that a bad review will dismantle all your hard work. But don’t worry: Bad reviews can actually be a great opportunity to make your brand look even better. How? Respond!
Simply by responding, you show that your brand is listening. If you can explain how you’ll fix the problem that the customer is complaining about, even better. Come across as calm, collected, professional and polite; new customers who are researching your brand will be very impressed.
2. Leverage employee reviews.
When customers research your brand, it’s likely that they’ll also stumble on your employee reviews, on sites like Glassdoor. If you have poor reviews as an employer, it’s likely that many customers will decide to shop elsewhere. While many will turn away for altruistic and empathetic reasons, many more will assume that a poor employer will also offer poor service.
If you aren’t sure if your employees are happy, ask! Put effort into ensuring that you’re providing a healthy, safe and pleasant place to work. Make time for fun activities and team bonding. Above all, keep communication lines open.
If you end up with a poor employee review despite your best efforts, respond as you would to a customer complaint -- politely and professionally.
3. Become a thought leader.
The best way to prevent small errors and setbacks from having a significant impact is to continuously create positive content. Your content marketing strategy is critical not only for attracting new clients through SEO, but for providing multiple examples of the expertise and professionalism that potential clients can expect when they work with you.
By focusing on becoming a trusted resource, you’ll increase the stability and longevity of your brand overall.
4. Maintain your website.
No matter how nice and smart you are, it will be hard to make new friends if you’re constantly disheveled. The same is true for your online branding! No matter how well thought out your content marketing, or how attentive you are to established customers, you can't let your website become out of date, hard to use or borderline nonfunctional. If you do, you may as well hang a big sign up that says “Out of Business.”
Make sure you have a landing page, contact information, a listing of your services or products and at least a simple "about" page. The stronger you make your site, the more customers it will attract, and keep.
5. Get social.
The more extroverted your brand is, the stronger its relationship will be with the community it serves. Consider social media a way to introduce your brand to potential clients, and create a protective layer of positive experiences and interactions -- almost all of which will be public -- around your company.
Additionally, while it is important that you respond to customer comments, complaints and praise, as well as participate in industry discussions and news, don’t forget to express your company’s brand, as well.
Social media is an excellent place to show a little humor, post information about causes your brand believes in and supports, and share the successes of your customers and partner companies. In short, run your brand’s social media accounts much the way you would run your own -- be human.