Cara Schoettes, Marketing Director
Your agency’s brand is, quite literally, who you are. It is your image, your tone, your values, the way you do things, the reason why you do things, and so much more. If your company was a person, your brand would be its personality. Whether or not you have put time into your agency’s brand, it is already there. Taking explicit steps to define your brand and use it to your advantage is key when connecting to your customers.
Consistency Will Drive Your Story Home
The most important reason to define your brand is so that you can then create consistency across your agency. Aligning your brand through your storefront, website, customer service style, business cards, social media posts, and so on will make sure your customer’s experience is consistent throughout their time with you.
Imagine this–you have taken your car into the same repair shop for 5 years. You always return to that shop because Jimmy greets you with a smile, explains the repairs needed clearly, and the waiting room is impeccably clean. But one day you make a stop mid-road trip at another store in the same repair shop chain. There you are working with Jeff who isn’t as chipper, doesn’t take the time to be an informative partner for you, and even your receipt looks totally different. Within the same company, even one where you are a loyal customer, a change in experience, tone, and brand is jarring for a customer. One thing that will help is to be sure your employees are all on trained on the agency’s brand and the protocols they should be following to ensure that consistency.
Another key place for consistency is in the advertising of your agency, likely you are telling prospective customers about why your agency is different. Remember that the brand you sell them on is the brand you need to deliver. Is your main messaging all about how you treat your customers like family? Well, I don’t know about you, but my family is excited when I call, is there for me when I am having a bad day, happy to offer advice, and sends me a hand-written card on my birthday. If family is what you promise, then anything shy of that is a reason for a customer to leave.
Every. Single. Thing. You. Do. Communicates.
Let’s look at something that seems insignificant–your business card. Business cards are, simply, a tool for prospects to collect your information and reach back out. But even tiny details, like the weight of the paper, the colors, the logo, and the font, influence whether a customer places that call after all. Does your business card tell them that you are a professional agency or a small mom & pop shop? If it isn’t designed well, or if there is a typo, that prospect might be left wondering what level of care and attention you’ll pay to their insurance.
If you haven’t paid attention to your brand before, your business card, your logo, your flyers, your voicemail message, and so many other small details surrounding your operations may be communicating things you don’t want! But they are communicating. So take a look at what you are already telling people about your agency and make adjustments where needed.
Taking Steps to a Better Brand
When thinking about your brand, these are the steps I take with agencies to start honing their brand.
- Observe: Ask yourself, what are you already doing and what brand are you currently communicating?
- Define: Be able to articulate what do you want to be communicating, and exactly who is your agency.
- Outline: Make a list of all the places your brand shows up; think about — your website, logo, copywriting, customer service, stationery, advertising, employee training, email signatures, billing statements, Christmas cards, and so on.
- Update: Finally, create a priority list and slowly update what you already have, and begin implementing your new ideas.
As you begin looking at your brand, be sure to include your partners, staff, brand agency experts, and long-term customers. Ask them who they think you are and where you can improve. It is always good to check in with those who are a few steps removed from your everyday operations, as they can usually see the brand you are portraying rather than the one you are attempting to portray.
You’ve Got This!
No matter what, take criticism constructively, and always be improving. Like people, brands age: they change with the seasons of life, they learn, and they grow. Look to those who you admire to see what they are doing well that you can implement and learn from the mistakes of others. Your brand is uniquely you, so don’t forget what our mom’s all taught us– it’s best just to be yourself.