At its essence, a good brand is simply a promise. A company promises to live up to a set of expectations. I often use my “Walmart versus Nordstrom” example to demonstrate the importance of customer experience in supporting a company’s brand positioning. The reason why I’ve chosen these two companies is because they are on opposite sides of the retail spectrum and they have rock solid brands. You know exactly what you are going to get when you walk into either of these retailers. They live up to their promises.
Walmart and Nordstrom make an immediate impression based on their store design, fixtures, colors, signage, pricing, service and merchandise. The second we walk into a store or restaurant for the first time, we make a series of judgments about the experience we expect. Hopefully it’s a good one. We then look for clues to confirm our initial impression. That’s how our brains work.
Once an impression is made, it is very difficult to change it. That’s why first impressions are so important.
The same principle applies to human beings. When we meet someone for the first time, we make a series of judgments and assumptions about them in less than 1/10th of one second. Those initial judgments are done at an unconscious level and are full of biases and stereotypes because we don’t have adequate information to make a sound decision.
Like the retail example above, we then spend the rest of the encounter with our new acquaintance looking and listening for clues to validate our initial impression. In fact, we discount or ignore information that contradicts our initial impression. That first impression really sticks with us.
Right or wrong, people judge you based on very little information. That’s why it is important to manage your personal brand image. The closer your first impression is to your actual self (or how you want to be perceived) the more likely your audience will listen to what you have to say, rather than looking for confirmation of their initial impression of you.
The good news is you have control over how others perceive you.
Dr. Jeannine Jannot and I have created an online workshop to help you develop and manage your personal brand image. It comes with an interactive workbook to personalize your personal brand plan. This workshop is part of our Best Self workshop series. Click here to enroll.
Remember, it’s easier to be your best self when others believe in you. So, start managing your personal brand today.