the ceo magazine, branding
Dan Antonelli, CEO & Creative Director, Graphic D-Signs, Inc., The Small Business Advertising Agency

You’ve heard of the elevator test: being able to clearly convey your resume, credentials, aspirations, and your overall value as a working professional all in the span of a quick elevator ride. Pretty tough.

I’ve got a new test for you, the business card test. It’s infinitely faster, remarkably subtle, yet has the power to move mountains and drive the needle forward towards your lofty business goals. And it all centers on perception.

When someone hands you their business card, several wheels start turning. It only takes a few seconds for you to create a laundry list of expectations about the quality, authenticity, and status of the business. Does it look tech-savvy and mobile, traditional and established, or seasoned and durable? Is the firm witty, bogus, worldly-wise or hardly worth your time?

These initial impressions materialize almost instantly, yet they are enough to coax action, inspire curiosity, or immediately discredit. And it doesn’t only apply to the business card.

Every touchpoint of your marketing mix warrants the same response, from the website to the handout flyer to the customer service representative. As an executive and a human being, you simply don’t have a say in how every interaction takes place. However, you do have a say in the look and feel of your marketing—and in my experience, that’s the spark you need.

It’s truly amazing to see the transformative powers of a brand. You can have the same product, service, or offering as all the rest one day, and a completely new outlook on it the next. In the most basic sense, if you look better, people will pay more. True success comes from being able to best address a customer need—delivering on that brand promise that your marketing creates—but first-time consumers will automatically decide if you look worthy of their business based on branding.

Why choose brand name cereals over the less known, no-name ones? Why opt to see big budget films over newcomer indie flicks? It’s all about perception, which in turn is all about branding. A strong integrated brand that spans across every aspect of your marketing mix, will allow you to alter the perceived value of your business.

Quality never goes out of style, and if you can genuinely deliver quality to your customers, you’ll be set for great future success. However, if you can convey that quality before money even exchanges hands, you’ll light a serious fire beneath your consumer base, compelling them to associate your company with authentic excellence. Your company will stick out like a sore thumb, in the best possible way. And your branding will position you as the pinnacle within your industry, something not even big brands will be able to shake. Now, that’s an investment!

 


Dan Antonelli is the CEO and creative director of New Jersey advertising agency Graphic D-Signs, Inc., The Small Business Advertising Agency®, and the author of Building A Big Small Business, available at www.amazon.com. For more information, visit www.graphicd-signs.com

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