When you, as a business owner, think of ways to elevate your brand, your first thoughts probably tend toward marketing collateral and advertising. In today’s crowded markets, giving yourself an edge is essential. Maybe search engine optimization (SEO) of your website springs to mind. Your company culture and the environment that you provide to your employees comprise a huge part of your branding and it’s a part that many businesses miss.
One Internet search for a major business’s name brings up employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor, Monster, and LinkedIn, just as it does customer reviews on Google Business, the Better Business Bureau, etc. To attract customers and top talent, elevate your brand and business by improving its procedures, employee packages, and physical presentation. Let’s explore how to do this.
Offer Employee Benefits
Because employees rate your business on job sites, you need to remain competitive as an employer. Elevate your brand by offering higher quality benefits packages that include life insurance policy plans and accidental death and dismemberment plans. Although the U.S. government requires health insurance plans for employees and workers’ compensation insurance policies for the business, you can improve upon this by adding to the required benefits package.
You needn’t offer med spa service, but providing employment benefits that resonate with your workers’ needs can elevate your business in their esteem. When employees respect the business at which they work, their loyalty tends to show itself in their word-of-mouth recommendations of it. You strengthen your brand by improving your benefits package.
Complete Safety Training
In a similar way, your business can improve employee opinion by offering more than the required Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety training. Elevate your brand by providing your staff with training for an advanced first aid certificate. Doing so ensures that every person in your office knows how to respond to an emergency. This can heartily contribute to the opinion employees have of their employer, especially in the construction and manufacturing industries.
When you go beyond the OSHA requirements with safety training, it makes an indelible impression on your employees. Besides this training, also consider purchasing new, improved personal protective equipment (PPE) for each workstation that requires it. Employers that invest in employee safety instead of simply giving it lip service earn employee trust and loyalty.
Expand to New Locations
Nothing elevates your brand like expansion, so if this proves feasible for your company, consider opening a new location. Businesses have two options when expanding – buy existing real estate for sale or purchase raw land and build a custom building. Typically, purchasing ready real estate costs less than building to suit, but in some cases, that may prove untrue.
If you need a land package, your project will require more work on your part. Before constructing a new commercial or industrial building, you will need to conduct an environmental study and a transportation study. Both of these studies require hiring an AICP-certified urban planner to complete the land analysis and author the reports. Once the city in which you choose to locate approves the studies, your company can apply for the building permits required before construction can begin.
Invest in Your Fleet
Among the other ways to elevate your brand, investing in your company’s fleet tops the list. From company cars to customized truck trailer beds, your fleet provides a visible reminder of your business to everyone on the road. Branding your fleet with vinyl wraps or custom decals provides rolling advertising for your company. Ensuring that your drivers maintain the highest possible driving standards communicates to the public that you respect them and care about their safety.
Your business’ vehicles provide an opportunity for you to advertise subtly. Consider how effective the branding used by The Geek Squad or Papa John’s Pizza works. When you pass by a vehicle badged with those companies’ logos, it invariably results in a positive thought about either.
Upgrade Your Equipment
Besides your automotive tools and equipment, elevate your brand by upgrading other equipment. Although your customers may not see this equipment, your employees will. This method of brand building goes back to the notion of improving your workforce’s opinion of your business, thus improving what they say about you to others and on hiring websites.
Consider adding a machining robot or two to your manufacturing plant. Perhaps new machine shop equipment, such as circular saws, table saws, and band saws would improve productivity. Newer equipment designs often feature improved safety measures, something your employees will likely appreciate.
Find Tech Solutions
Elevate your brand with something that customers, vendors, and employees will see and use – technology improvements. Whether you recently founded your business, or you’ve operated it for decades, consider using an IT outsourcing service to streamline processes. For a new business, outsourcing IT relieves the owner of the need to try to manage the company’s computer and server systems, something that probably isn’t their job. For an established business, using such a service relieves the IT staff of many time-consuming tasks that don’t move forward the business, freeing them to focus on planning, improvements, and expansion.
Repair Your Parking Lot
Here’s one thing that most businesses don’t think of when they focus on branding – the parking lot. If you want to elevate your brand, address the curb appeal of your business location, starting with the parking lot. Hire a concrete repair service to fill in cracks and resurface the lot, so it offers a smooth, safe surface.
Replace broken or chipped parking dividers, too. Repaint the lines that divide the parking spaces. Finally, replace any broken or shorted-out streetlamps, so your parking area offers a well-lit, safer space.
Enhance Curb Appeal
While working to elevate your brand, remember what every resident of your city sees, your business’s exterior. Contract with a local power washing business to clean the exterior of your building. Presenting a professional appearance impresses many people and can elevate your business in their esteem.
A landscape architect can also help your company develop its curb appeal by creating a comprehensive plan for its grounds. This plan development can help your building’s appearance whether it only features a small patch of grass that could fit one garden bed, or it offers a massive campus like Microsoft’s Redmond location. Well-manicured grass that’s properly edged and seasonal flowers can significantly improve the curb appeal of any company.
Address Roofing and Siding Damage
Part of the curb appeal of your commercial building stems from its roofing and siding. Damage to either results in a less attractive presentation for your business location. Have a certified professional roofer inspect the roof annually and repair any damage. Your building maintenance professional should regularly inspect the building to ensure that the siding remains in good condition.
When damage does occur to the roof or siding, hire a professional building contractor to repair it immediately. Severe damage may require replacing the roof or siding, something that can mean closing the business location for a few days. However, this closure offers your company two opportunities for public relations. Issue a press release announcing how the damaging event hurt your building and that you will temporarily close to address the damage to protect your employees and customers, and hold a grand re-opening event when contractors finish the repairs.
Upgrade Racks, Shelving, and Counters
The public forms its opinion of retail businesses based on its shopping experiences. Upgrade the racks, shelves, and counters in the store to enhance your customer experience. When you present your inventory in the most professional manner, it upgrades their opinion of you.
Beyond merely installing new organizers for inventory, organize it in such a way that customers enjoy wider aisles that make it easier to shop. Many stores cluster round racks too closely making it tough for people in wheelchairs to navigate the aisles. Provide at least four feet between racks, so those in motorized carts and wheelchairs can comfortably shop.
Update Your Business Signage Outside and Inside
Business owners frequently update their business cards and might send out postcards or hand out fliers. Update the business signage at each location of your business to ensure they all match in design and business name. Only the location name beneath the logo and business name should differ. The sign that marks your business location represents your company to every passerby, so it contributes heartily to your branding.
Don’t ignore interior signage! Conduct a personal inspection of the interior of your building, noting any broken, defaced, or damaged signs inside. These signs might mark offices, bathrooms, stairwells, etc. and each proves important since it represents how your company maintains its location.
Upgrade Your Office Furnishings
Although you might not think of your office furniture as contributing to your branding, it does. Visitors to your business draw an instant opinion of your business when they enter it. If your reception area features outdated furniture that seems threadbare or looks like it came out of the 1970s or 1980s, their opinion won’t be very high of you.
Hire an interior designer to create a unified appearance for your office that expresses the personality of your company, while maintaining a completely professional environment. This makeover for your business may change all of its furniture, so prepare for it to cost more than some branding options. Consider updating the window treatments, desks, chairs, bookshelves, credenzas, and computer carts.
Upgrade Bathrooms and Breakrooms
Your employees will thank you for updating the breakroom, but customers will love you for updating the bathrooms. Repair any broken toilets and sinks. Resurface the countertops and sink vanities. Install new hand dryers, soap dispensers, and personal item dispensers, such as condom machines or tampon machines.
If your location does not already feature an oversized toilet stall, you’ll need to add one when you make these repairs and renovations. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires it. Offering this wheelchair-accessible stall will seem to modernize you in the esteem of the public.
Budgeting for Elevating Your Business Brand
Consider which of the many projects in this article your business needs to accomplish. Instead of trying to handle them all at once, rank them in order of importance. This helps you create the line-item budget needed to accomplish them all.
Compare estimates from at least three contractors for each project. This process lets you find the sweet spot of low cost and quickest turnaround. It also ensures that you don’t get taken advantage of by a fly-by-night business or a corner cutter because every professional contractor within an industry should charge about the same amount for labor and materials. In the construction industry, unions negotiate the wages and the only way to reduce a bid comes from cutting corners by using lower-quality materials.
Order your projects in such a way that they build on one another, too. For example, address parking lot repairs before landscaping, so the landscaping work doesn’t get damaged by the heavy equipment. Repair a roof before siding, and so on.
If your business has a discretionary fund or building fund, dip into it to update your company’s location. If you don’t have a building fund already set up, consider creating one. This devotes a percentage of your annual revenue to your building maintenance and renovation. If you ever need to expand your business by building on it, this account pays for it, or can at least offer collateral for obtaining a building loan.
Consider opening a business credit card account if your business needs to make some of the changes discussed in this article but lacks the funding for them. Using a low-interest-rate credit card lets you pay off one project, and then use the same credit to accomplish the next one. Your business also builds credit this way, improving your brand in the esteem of vendors and creditors. That can make it easier to obtain a business expansion loan down the line, when you feel ready to open a second location or build your own commercial building, instead of renting space.