Is Your Brand Ready for the New Year? Five Things You Should Do Before You Turn the Lights Out on 2011

It’s far more important than changing postage meter and hanging new calendars in your offices, yet few companies take the time to dust off their “brand” before the end of the year.  Here are five “must dos” and the reasons they are important.

  1. Change the copyright year on all publications especially those that are digital. Not only is this important legally, but it tells prospects and customers that your presence is current and your company is on top of things for the good of the company as well as the clients you serve. Competence in small but important steps such as this builds trust and credibility.
  2. Walk through the office with the eyes of a client or customer. What do you see? Magazines that are months, even years old, coffee rings on conference tables, cartoons in poor taste on bulletin boards?  All of these reflect on your brand and how you are rolling out the welcome mat to those who walk through your door.
  3. Take a few minutes to see who is new.  Who has been hired this year? Are they familiar with what you do and how you do it? No one can discount the impression made by the first person at your company to whom a prospect speaks. Do all your “firsts” represent your brand, your culture and your way of doing business? Double check this with some longer-term employees  as well. If you can, secret shop your own company so you know exactly what customers experience.
  4. It’s wonderful when employees are proud to wear your logo on their clothing. It’s equally important that those employees remember they represent the company when doing so or driving the company vehicle on local streets.  So, remind employees that their behavior should match the company’s brand whether on the clock or not. Cutting off the president of your largest client in traffic can come back to haunt them . . . and you.
  5. Recommit to walking the talk. All companies have branding lulls or even branding setbacks.  Don’t use that as an excuse to fail but as a reason to innovate. Make sure everyone on your team feels that way as well. Look for innovation from everyone – from the boardroom to  the mailroom.

Beyond these five vital steps, ask employees to suggest other brand checkups.  As an example, I once found a two-year-old (outdated) bill stuffer still being mailed out by an accounting department in another company, perhaps one of the last places anyone might think to look.

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