First impressions last


Struggling to gain new business? Oxford Innovation business coach Mike Jobson explains the importance of ‘brand personality’

Psychologists tell us that there are only three reasons why we buy anything. In making a purchase decision we consider: –

  1. The functional reason – what the product does for the customer, or what problem does it solve for me?
  2. How the product makes me feel?
  3. How the product makes me look?

Assuming that your product or service ‘delivers’ in a functional sense, do you take these other, more emotive, factors into account when designing your marketing communication plan?

Have you considered the following questions when considering your brand?

Who is the target customer?

What can we do to ensure that we are making the right impression with our target customer or consumer group? Firstly, understand who the target customer is. Unless you have clearly defined who you are targeting you run the risk that your communication will fail to resonate. You need to be talking to the target in a way that they understand.

Does my brand have a personality?

Understand the essence of your brand before you brief the design agency, not the other way round.

A brand should have a personality that will appeal to the target consumer group, motivating us to buy. We as potential customers may not even be conscious of these feelings, or that we have made them based upon what we take the brand personality to be. Indeed some brand owners may not have considered these elements at all.

Why is this important to small business owners? Whether you are deliberately trying to create a brand personality or not, what you say and how you say it influences both existing and potential purchasers.

What impression does my brand give my target customer?

Every client interaction with your company will create an impression in the mind of everyone who is touched by your communication. Your web site wording, for example. Are the key messages about the brand offering clear and concise? We all buy solutions to problems that we have, is it clear to potential customers what the main benefits or solutions will be as a result of the purchase?

Does my brand inspire confidence?

In terms of your sales literature or even your web site, does the wording fill me with confidence that you are a business who knows what it is doing? Do you have testimonials from current clients that inspire a feeling of confidence?

If I am a procurement person looking at your company as a potential supplier, your company’s client base should give me a feeling of confidence. If you are supplying the likes of IBM or Boeing, then you must have the capability to keep those demanding customers happy. If I am to recommend you to my MD, I am very conscious that I am potentially putting my reputation on the line. This is where the “how it makes me look” element comes into play.

Are my messages clearly displayed?

Importantly, have you critically analysed the content of your web site wording from the point of view of your target group? Ensured that your marketing communication touches the customer’s emotional needs as well as functional requirements?

The addictive nature of web browsing can leave customers with a limited attention span. I may have found your web site; but be assured that in this time poor world, I will move on to your competitor’s site if I don’t “get it” in terms of your offering. And I may never return. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.

This article first appeared in the May 2011 issue of Business Cornwall magazine