Marketing & Branding

Branding All Year Long: Make A Great First Impression

First-Impression-Love-Your-BrandWhat does it take to get customers to love your brand? You must fulfill a need, have great service and a competitive price—to name a few. But before you can get to any of these aspects of the sales process, you must first make a great first impression.

Make An Impression

Making a first impression only takes seconds. One. Two. Three. Just that quick, prospective customers make a judgment about your company. In fact, “Buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions based on stored memories, images and feelings,” writes Malcolm Gladwell in Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

While you can’t control what buyers have experienced in the past and how this influences their decision making process, you can control how you present your business to the world in order to make a positive first impression. This is where branding comes in.

“This doesn’t mean we (or our business) need to be the best dressed or look like something we are not,” writes Sue Cockburn in the Social Media Today article The Power Of First Impressions And Branding. “It does mean making sure our image reflects who we are. So that consumers can ‘size us up’ quickly (which they will do anyway) and that the first image or impression we leave them with is a positive one. A first impression that will draw them back to us, cause them to remember us, when they want or need what we have to offer and, just as important, will keep them coming back to us after they have experienced what we have to offer.”

So just how important are first impressions when it comes to brand loyalty? MarketingCharts reports that “some 59% of consumers say their decision of when a brand becomes a favorite of theirs occurs right after their first purchase or when their service begins, per recent survey results from ClickFox. This represents the third consecutive year that respondents to the loyalty survey have noted that first impressions are critical to their loyalty. The importance attached to the first impression is likely due to the factors that consumers believe are most influential in their loyalty to brands. This year, a leading 35% of respondents to the survey cited brand quality and image as the most influential factor in their brand loyalty.”

It’s this image that helps you be memorable. “Branding will ‘mark you’ to help people remember you and think of you when they are looking for what you offer (think Starbucks, Nike, Apple, McDonalds),” says Cockburn. “It will ‘mark you’ so that your advertising and other marketing campaigns will have the added benefit of your name. Your name will carry weight based on the reality of who you are, what you do and how you do it. You don’t need to be big business for this to work in your local market. But you do need to do the work of building your brand.”

Build Your Brand

There are many ways to build your brand to make that first impression. It can be your online presence with a website, blog and social media. It can be something as simple as business cards or other marketing collateral. It can be a professional uniform or custom corporate apparel for in-person meetings. And, of course, it can be the promotional products used in marketing campaigns.

To ensure you make the right first impression, follow these tips when selecting branded apparel and promotional products:

1. Understand Your Audience

Before you can choose any branded merchandise, you must first understand your audience’s needs and wants. Just because you think a product is cool doesn’t mean they will, so put yourself in their shoes first. [Learn more in the post Target Your Audience (Or #Fail).]

2. Develop A Strategy

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is choosing products without a strategy because they “need a giveaway”—and then they wonder why it doesn’t work. Success comes from having a strategy that not only builds upon what your audience finds valuable but also ties into your brand story. There must be a purpose to the items you choose, and they should be used to achieve an objective or goal. (Learn more about creating a promotional marketing strategy to meet your unique needs in this three-part series beginning here.

3. Be Consistent With Messaging

Consistency in messaging can be demonstrated by how your logo is presented, the taglines incorporated and the colors used. But consistency goes deeper into what your brand stands for and the items that can represent this message. A vegan restaurant, for example, wouldn’t choose leather coasters as a promotional gift because that goes against what their brand is all about. Make sure the products you choose align with your underlying brand values.

4. Think About Distribution

How you give a product away tells just as much about your brand as the product itself. Items that are packaged in a gift bag or box have a much higher perceived value than bulk packed items that must be fished out of a cardboard box. Even a simple logoed ribbon tied around a folded t-shirt makes the gift seem more important—and increases the likelihood that recipients will keep and use it.

5. Work With An Experienced Promotional Consultant

Sure you can order promotional products online or at your local office supply store. But you don’t know anything about the quality of the goods (remember: everything looks nice in a photo) nor will you get an expert marketing advice from the order taker. Instead, look for an experienced promotional consultant who can guide you through what works and what doesn’t and who can recommend quality products that won’t disappoint.

Create An Experience

So much goes into making a first impression. A memory. And it all goes back to creating an experience for customers. It’s the experience that becomes the foundation on which brand loyalty is built. Do it right, and customers will love you for it.


Want to make a memorable first impression using promotional products? Book an appointment by clicking here or call us now at 248-538-4700 to learn how. Mention the blog, and we’ll send you some SMART Swag that makes a great first impression!