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10 ways to improve your brand image for higher-end clientele

You want to appeal to an upscale audience – buyers who will pay more for your services or products. The challenge is, your brand doesn’t reflect the top-notch caliber of your business offerings. Here are 10 ideas to improve your brand image for higher-end clientele.

1. Just say no to DIY.

I love HGTV and the DIY Channel as much as the next gal. But creating your own brand is not the same as painting your walls or boldly accessorizing with prints and stripes.

If you’ve considered designing your own logo, business card, or website, just say no. If you’ve given the smallest thought to writing your own tagline or website content, put your hands in the air and step away from your keyboard.

(And yes, while I have the greatest love for creative businesses – filmmakers, photographers and interior designers – these guidelines apply to you too.)

No matter how good your intentions are, DIY branding can come across as cheap and unprofessional, and cheap and unprofessional will not bring in the big bucks.

One of the keys to improving your brand image is to convey that you put care into the smallest details, and everything you do is top notch.

Translation: Keep your DIY to a minimum.

2. Invest in professional graphic design.

As a Denver copywriter, I can’t believe I’m recommending graphic design before hiring a copywriter, but I am. If you want to instill confidence in your brand, let a professional designer take your vision and make it even better than you imagined.

Having a polished logo, a professional website, and a consistent design identity (including standard colors and fonts) can play a huge role in conveying that you are an established, credible company.

According to a website trust study from Stanford University and Consumer WebWatch, nearly half of all participating consumers (46%) assessed the credibility of a website in part by the appeal of the visual design. Visual design was the most influential credibility factor.

You want to make a great first impression with a client with deep pockets? Invest in good design.

You want to creating a lasting impression? Turn to idea #3…

3. Hire a marketing writer or web copywriter.

If you think you may be too close to your own story, you probably are.

If the “About” page on your website is giving “War and Peace” a run for its money, it’s time to surrender.

If you think your “About” page is the most important page in your website, you may benefit from an outside perspective…

Let a professional copywriter tell your story in a way that connects with your high-end clientele. A good writer will take your vision and put it into language that truly resonates with your desired clients.

Good copywriting can play a huge role in differentiating your business. Not to mention, it can make your company sound far superior to your competitors.

And who doesn’t like that?

4. Figure out what makes your business unique and special… and why it matters to your high-end clientele.

When you look and sound like every other business, people default to comparing you on tangible elements, such as your prices, locations, or years of experience. We want to get you out of the commodity game and give people a compelling reason to invest more in your business.

Branding is about differentiating your business from your competitors in a way that matters to your desired clients.

Ask yourself, what makes your business special and unique?

Do your high-end clients love your stress-free experience? Do you provide the best products for the investment (you’re a leader in value)? Do you serve a unique niche, such as beautiful wedding photography for upscale, destination weddings?

Identify a memorable, compelling and unique reason that people will choose your business. Then, weave that message throughout your communication and your customer experience.

5. Find ways to make your customer experience more special.

When you think of your brand image, you may immediately think of your marketing communication. But when it comes to your image, the experience you deliver to your customers is just as important.

If you want to improve your brand image, ask yourself, how can you make your customer experience more special and memorable?

What can you do to show your clients they matter to you?

Or, going back to our example above, if you’re the leader in providing a stress-free experience, what can you do to take “stress-free” to a whole new level?

You don’t have to go overboard. You can make your customer experience more special with a small gesture, such as sending a hand-written note to let customers know you’re thinking about them.

I have a colleague who has a brand with a “sweet” aspect. She sends her clients chocolate truffles in appreciation for their business – an amazing and unexpected surprise!

When you choose to create an intentional experience, you help ensure that you don’t lose those special touches in the commotion of day-to-day business.

6. Improve your customer response time.

One of the easiest ways you can improve your customer experience – and in turn, your brand image – is to respond to your customers in a shorter amount of time.

Have you ever been a passenger on an airplane or a patient in a doctor’s office in which you waited and waited and waited, and no one bothered to communicate why you had to wait?

We want information, thank you very much, and we want it in a timely matter!

When a customer, prospect or colleague reaches out to you, set an expectation of when you’ll respond: within the day, within one business day, in 48 hours –whatever timeline you can meet. Then, follow through.

It shows that you care.

It shows you value your customers’ time.

When I was planning my wedding, one of my biggest frustrations was when wedding vendors would take several weeks to respond to a phone call or email. The best vendors were those who sent incredibly timely responses. To this day, I will recommend a specific deejay. He didn’t work at our wedding because he was booked on our wedding day, but he was so responsive and helpful that we would recommend him in a heartbeat.

Even if you don’t have an answer for your customers or you’re swamped with business, let your customers know that you’ve heard from them.

Communicating in a timely manner is such a small gesture, and yet, so few businesses do it well. It can differentiate your business in a positive way and make you more worthy of a bigger price tag.

7. Think about how you present yourself.

If you’re in professional services, you are your brand. You may not have a storefront… you simply have yourself.

With this in mind, think about what you wear when you meet with people. Does your appearance send a message that:

  • The person sitting across the table matters to you?
  • You care about the smallest of details?
  • You understand your brand – whether it’s down-to-earth, edgy, creative, or ultra elite?

I’m not saying that you have to go out and buy an Armani suit. It’s important that you dress to your audience. Having lived in Denver and Chicago and conducted business on both coasts, I can attest that what works in one city may not work in the next.

I’m simply saying, be intentional in your choices. Show that you care. Pay attention to the details.

I have a PR colleague in Denver who “owns” red. Red is not only the dominant color in her marketing communications, but she intentionally works it into her business wardrobe, as well. She wants people to associate red with her company. Using color can be a subtle, but powerful, way to fine-tune your brand image.

8. Anticipate your customers’ needs.

One of the keys to appealing to a more upscale audience is to anticipate and meet a need before your audience even realizes they have the need.

I recently worked with two filmmakers. They have a very fluid and dynamic film style, and from time to time, they see each other in their footage. To ensure that they blend into the background and don’t take the attention away from their clients, they now dress in very neutral colors. It works.

Do their clients know this is a need? No. But by anticipating and avoiding a potential issue, they’re able to offer a better experience.

They’re in tune with the smallest details.

9. Let others sing your praises.

Authentic, heart-felt testimonials are an excellent way to improve your brand image and credibility with an audience that’s willing to invest in the best.

Testimonials are a form of social proof. They affirm that you deliver the exceptional experience that you say you do.

Depending on the type of business you run, think about how you can leverage customer feedback through your marketing communication, case studies, social media, blog posts or even references.

Think creatively – testimonials don’t have to be written. When done well, video testimonials can be really engaging and set your business apart.

10. Commit to being the business you want to be.

If you find that you can’t focus on a higher-end customer because you’re spending too much time catering to “tire kickers” and people who undervalue your business, it’s time to stop.

You can’t be all things to all people.

Focus your energy on those who matter most to you. Commit to your desired audience. Commit to being the business that you want to be.

Your brand starts with you!

Until next time…