Last week I hit pause on my work at one in the afternoon and drove into town to get a facial. I had recently tried a different place that smelled like hemp in the back storage room of a floral shop, with a tiny French bulldog that licked my face as an esthetician with rainbow hair gave me a long-winded description of puppy training before our session began.
But I’d heard about this new girl from so many friends, and I really wanted to try it. I spent a lot of time on her website to make sure it was the right fit—her services were not cheap.
The idea of having even an hour away from my inbox felt like heaven. I stepped into a small room that broke off from the lobby of a yoga studio and transported me immediately to the ocean. How did she know?!
I took a look around at the perfectly designed room, I selected the essential oils I wanted to smell during the breathing exercise, and I noticed the soft waves from the sound machine and the heated massage bed I would relax into for the next 90 minutes.
The entire session felt nothing less than life-changing. I left not only with dewy skin, but a few new skincare products I hadn’t planned on purchasing. She followed up to check on me a few days later, and I booked another session.
This is an example of a stellar brand experience and strong brand integrity.
Integrity describes someone who has high standards and consistently lives by them. It means being honest, reliable, and kind. You’ll notice it without knowing what it is, but the effects are impossible to ignore.
When your business has strong brand integrity, you’ll see:
- better testimonials, usually given without having to ask for them
- more referrals and people eager to work with you because of the fantastic experience their friend/family/coworker had with you (aka you don’t have to do as much marketing)
- fewer revisions, refunds, or complaints (because you listened the first time)
- repeat customers and clients who buy everything you sell because they know you’ll deliver premium products
Often we try to improve these areas one by one without considering if an overarching principle could actually affect them all.
Ultimately, your business needs to deliver on what your brand promises.
Seeking Brand Integrity
You may not have seen these two words paired together before because not enough information exists about it. Brand Integrity is basically your brand’s reputation, which is influenced by how well your business delivers consistent value.
We also call this customer experience.
When you purchase something, it comes with expectations. You haven’t yet sold a product; you’ve sold a promise. And your brand integrity comes from having products and services that deliver on your promise every single time.
Laying a Foundation
The first step is knowing what you stand for. This is defined by your brand values, differentiating factor, unique style, and signature process. Let’s take a look at each.
Your brand values are a list of 3-5 attributes that characterize how you do business. You should bake these values into every aspect of what you do, not just your marketing copy.
A brand of substance operates from a place of purpose every single day. For example, a gifting company might build its business on hospitality, consideration, and delight.
They may deliver on these values with a warm, personal email to new customers, a thoughtful seasonal gift to corporate companies, and surprise brand moments in their collateral, like a handwritten note, extra treat, or whimsical email confirmation. And ultimately, they’re going to give some really great gifts, on time.
When you build your brand from a strategic place, you want to stand apart from the competition, seeking out blue oceans.
Positioning your business can be a fun challenge in finding new ways to present old ideas and can be a great way to build brand integrity – showing that you’re not just going to follow the whim of everyone else but can stand firm on your own.
Have you noticed that everything always looks the same?
It can be challenging for a customer to make a selection when all of the options look like carbon copies of each other. Finding your own style is not just a good business move; it also is a confidence builder. The best way to eliminate competition is not to play the game.
A lot of times, there are industry standards and expectations.
For instance, in the branding world, a logo is a standard expectation for brand identity packages. But how you create the logo, how you even get to the delivery process, can be a magical, signature process. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; just consider repackaging it.
The Brand Review
It’s a good idea to conduct a brand review once a year. So much happens in twelve months for a small business, it can be easy to drop the ball accidentally. Each time someone is referred to your company and encounters a broken link, outdated content, disconnected visuals, or super old photography breaks trust.
And when you break someone’s trust, they start to question your integrity. Here are some areas to begin reviewing:
Your Brand Copy
It’s a good idea to reread all of your brand copy about once a year, starting with your website. Make sure your process and pricing are up to date, your about page is relevant, and your information is accurate. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to get excited about a service or product you no longer offer.
Your Brand Visuals
You want to make sure your brand is sending a consistent visual message all over the internet. Look at your social media channels, web pages, and email freebies. Consider if your style is telling the same story or looking like a split personality.
I like to review my client templates every quarter, but you can easily do this once a year. While you’re updating documents, see if your process needs some refinement or if there’s anything you could streamline. Every touchpoint in a customer’s journey is contributing to the reputation of your brand. Make sure you’re making a good impression.
I’ve been guilty of this in the past, but it’s a crucial part of building trust. Don’t let your freebies go out of style. No one will trust the relevance of your product if your freebie is giving outdated advice. It’s especially important if you work with software or an industry that’s continually changing.
Make sure your resources change with the times and review them at least once a year.
Blogging is my one true love, and I’m starting to land on a process that I love with it. Now that we’re working in ClickUp, I’ve created a content library that organizes all of our resources – from emails to blog posts and even social media.
It took forever to set up, but my favorite part is the recurring task feature. I can set a recurring reminder to review and update my blog posts every year, check links, make sure the information is accurate, and point to available offers from the studio.
Voila! Super easy.
Your business will most likely go through some changes each year; make sure your sales funnel is speaking to the right pain point. I made this mistake a few years ago when I left one of my email funnels on autopilot and couldn’t figure out why all of my inquiries were such bad fits.
Sometimes it’s as easy as an excellent system for the wrong outcome. Oops!
Social Media Channels
It’s a great idea to sit down and look at your social media behavior from an outsider’s perspective. What would a potential follower think about your brand by looking at your business online, without any other context? How would you describe your style and personality?
Social can often feel like a revolving door of trends and spontaneous updates, but when you string all of those moments together, they tell a story.
Portfolio + Testimonials
Finally, make sure your portfolio and the testimonials on your site are up to date. There have been many times when I’m browsing a designer’s website, and her testimonials link to live proof that her client decided to redo the work.
Now, most brands get refreshed every few years, but it’s not a great look to say, “Hey, I did this project, and my client didn’t want to keep it.” Just make sure that when you point someone to a successful project that the end result matches.
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