In a world where your company’s entire reputation can rest on Google reviews, it’s important that your brand is sending the right message to the public. Here are just seven ways to bolster a new or not-so-sparkling image.

Google reputation search

1. Fix Your First Impression

The “halo effect” is a psychological phenomenon where people will justify their first choice even after receiving evidence that another choice is better for them. In business terms, this means your store needs to be clean and your website up-to-date. If a customer doesn’t have a good first impression of your brand, the halo effect will keep them from giving you a second chance.

2. Promote Your Values

Why is your product better than others? Is it cheaper, safer or more environmentally friendly? Make a point of advertising those qualities above all others. Create a narrative for your brand, one that says “smart moms choose us” or “you’ll be better prepared than other campers when you buy our equipment.”

3. Manage Your Online Reputation

Go back to those Google reviews. Do they dominate the search results for your brand? Are they sticking out like a sore thumb among better, more positive reviews? Hire an online reputation manager who can bury the bad press and accentuate the positive. While it’s nearly impossible to erase negative things from the Internet, you can flood them out of existence with the right tools and tricks.

4. Advertise Human Interest Stories

Human interest stories are a great way to get into the media without resorting to self-promotion. For example, if a woman gives birth in one of your stores, make sure the press knows you gave her a gift card for her new baby. If a local baseball team needs new jerseys, sponsor the team and plaster your brand in every dugout. These are generous gifts that will encourage good feelings about your brand in every person who hears of your charity.

Social branding
photo credit: Geekia

5. Engage on Social Media

It isn’t enough to just sign up on Facebook or Twitter. You’ll need to use these accounts to generate constant buzz about your products or services. Talk to your customers; promote your sales and sweepstakes; create content that’s easily retweeted and reblogged. The goal is to show your demographic that you’re a fun and modern brand.

6. Be Transparent With Company Information

Don’t hide your board members behind a curtain. For example, when you look at a Charles E. Phillips bio, you’ll see everything from his salary to his stock ownership. This is the kind of transparency that makes investors more likely to trust in your brand. When they know you aren’t hiding anything, they’ll be freer with their finances.

7. Listen to Feedback

Last but certainly not least, take the time to actually listen to your consumers when they share feedback about your business. If they don’t like the website, change it; if they think an ad is offensive, take it down. You don’t want to be the boss with his fingers in his ears as his stocks plummet. You should also familiarize yourself with typical brand terms used by your consumers (for a good brand glossary check out the one created by Stealing Share, for example.)

These are just seven ways to improve your brand’s image. It doesn’t matter if you’re bouncing back from a scandal or just unveiling a fresh ad campaign for the new year: Image is everything in today’s market, so make sure you’re sending the right one.