Planning Your Virtual Business: Branding Your Enterprise
Leave room in your business plan for branding your virtual enterprise. Your brand is the set of beliefs that people associate with your business name. It mirrors the overall image and tone of your company, your employees, your product, and your customer service.
Branding is reflected through everything from your name and logo to your business offerings to how product manuals are written and how employees interact with customers. Branding requires consistency in message, tone, interactions, and the promise you make and keep with customers. And branding can be a challenge in a virtual enterprise, with far-flung employees operating independently. To insure consistency across all areas of your operation:
- Draft a clear and concise brand statement and communicate it to everyone.
- Design a logo and establish exactly where and how it should appear.
- Create stationery, business cards, and a format for the block of text used in email signatures and make sure all virtual team members know to use them in any official business communications to project a consistent company look.
- Establish style guidelines for all formal written communications. (Search online for “brand style guidelines” for plenty of examples.)
- Consider hiring an editor who oversees all official company documents, from instruction manuals or product FAQs to marketing materials. A poorly written document reflects badly on the quality of the products or services you offer.
- Develop a set of customer service guidelines to establish the quality of customer interactions you expect your employees to provide.
- Ask your customers and clients for feedback. Follow a sale with a customer survey or telephone call, for instance, in order to get a sense of how your remote team is performing.
Because branding is so important to a company’s image — and because it’s a challenge for many virtual companies — your plan should specifically describe how you intend to develop the communication consistency that’s essential to strong brand management.