I walked into an attorney’s office a few days ago. It was a very nice office. The walls coated with expensive wood. The floors made of shiny granite. The light fixtures were large and beautiful. There was even a large fountain in the middle of the lobby.
After walking into this office, my perception was this law firm must make lots of money from its clients. I decided not to become one of those clients.
Recently, I saw a company-owned vehicle in a parking lot. It was covered in dirt. There was a large dent on one side and another in the rear. The dashboard was loaded with old papers. But largely displayed on both door panels was the company logo. It’s logical to assume if this is how they maintain their company assets, they treat their customers the same.
In Hollywood, it’s said that image is everything. This is also true for businesses.
New entrepreneurs like to talk about their brand. A brand is important, but it takes months if not years for a business to develop a true brand.
Your business image is different than your brand. Image is the immediate perception projected by the business. From the perspective of the customer, image is reality. A luxurious law office projects an image of an expensive attorney. A dirty and damaged company vehicle projects an image of carelessness and disorganization. Whether reality or not, neither of these images will attract potential customers.
Many new entrepreneurs don’t concern themselves with image. This is a mistake. Potential customers always make judgments based upon image and initial impressions. Business owners understand success will be a result of their skill sets, product quality, and/or business acumen. But image may decide whether you will ever have the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities or not.
Entrepreneurs should embrace the concept of crafting an image for themselves and their company. New companies have a little or no track record, nor a fully developed brand. They depend upon the perceived image of their company to gain opportunities with clients and customers. As such, it's important to take a proactive approach to developing and nurturing the business' image.
Second, an entrepreneur should pay attention to every detail when creating their image. Everything that visibly represents the business must be considered. Employees, marketing materials, email correspondence, and social media will all impact image. It may be tedious and time-consuming to address all the necessary details for a positive image, but the potential damage from not doing so is even more costly.
Finally, a company’s image must be an honest portrayal of the company. Presenting an image that is not genuine will ultimately cause more harm than good. The intent is not to craft a false image, but to ensure the image accurately reflects the positive aspects of your company.
A company’s image is what the customer sees. It then becomes what the customer perceives as factual. Creating and presenting a positive image is necessary for a new entrepreneurial business. If you're an entrepreneur, take the time to consider all aspects of your business. Make sure you're creating the right business image you want others to see.
Brian T. King is the founder and owner of multiple firms encompassing design, construction, real estate, and manufacturing, and currently president of the integrated Design-Build firm A M King. Brian shares his passion for mentoring young professionals, rising managers and entrepreneurs at speaking engagements around the country, on podcasts and via his blog.