10 reasons your brand leaves a bad first impression

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First impressions are important. People say don’t judge a book by its cover, but when you first encounter something, especially something that is requesting your time, attention and/or money, you better believe the cover will be judged and it better be perfect. With that said, I wanted to stress how the simplest things can leave a bad first impression for your brand.

Cluttered, unappealing website design
Putting too much stuff (stuff=copy, banner ads, images, etc) on your website’s homepage can be overwhelming to a person who is making their first contact with your brand and consequently, could turn them away. Also, if your website looks like it was just thrown together without any consideration for organization, logic or style, that can have a negative reflection on your brand. If you have a smaller budget for web design, at least consider getting advice on how to organize and lay out your site from someone who knows their stuff.

Low-quality images and advertisements
In case you haven’t noticed, pictures have become a big deal. From Pinterest to Instagram, people are looking at and engaging with hundreds of images everyday. With this new phenomenon, consumers are encountering their introductions to brands everyday, just not necessarily through a platform that the brand itself houses. Therefore, all of the images associated with your brand need to be of high quality, so that if Jane Smith happens to pin it, and her all of her 120 followers on Pinterest see it, they won’t be left with a negative impression.

Grammatical errors in your copy
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to proofread. If your site is visually appealing and organized perfectly, but contains a glaring spelling error, a first-time visitor may get a bad impression. Not to say that they won’t ever want to have anything to do with your brand, but any chance you can avoid giving consumers (as skeptical as they already are) something negative to say about your brand, take it! I’ve even posted grammatical errors, and I understand that it happens – but always try to avoid it. When possible, always try to have anything that is disseminated or made public on behalf your brand proofed for errors.

Missing elements that are generally expected and sought out
If you’re in retail, chances are consumers that encounter your brand will want to know about the return policy. If you’re in the food industry, chances are consumers that encounter your brand will want to know about ingredients. Provide the consumer with everything that they might need to determine whether or not they’d like to pursue a “relationship” with your brand or company. Leaving out pertinent information could leave a negative first impression with someone exposed to your brand for the first time. I think that it’s important to be as transparent and helpful as possible.

Website malfunctions, broken links
Always double-check the links that you send out. If a person is taking the time to open up an email that you’ve sent them, the link that they click on from the email should get them the results that they’re expecting. The same thing is true with printed materials. Always be sure to double-check and double-check again any URLs or email addresses that you have listed.

Also, it crucial to do (at a minimum) weekly audits of your site to be sure that everything is showing up as you intended. Broken links and dropped images can leave a negative impression.

Poor social media efforts
If a person first encounters your brand through a social media network, only to find that you haven’t made any updates in two weeks, they will very likely become disinterested and move on without subscribing or following. Develop interesting, relevant social media content and post it consistently so that if someone encounters it, they’ll immediately want to join in the conversation and learn more.

Poor customer service
One of the biggest things that can deter consumers from making repeat encounters with a company or a brand is bad customer service. Not only will it leave a horrible first impression, but in this age where people can share their horrible experiences with the masses, one bad customer service incident can lead to negative first impressions of your brand to millions of consumers. It is so important to train your team (and I mean your entire team) on the proper tactics to use when dealing with customers.

Lack of cleanliness and order
If you have a physical, brick and mortar location, it’s so important to ensure that the environment is as welcoming and clean as possible. A person’s first encounter should not be an unattractive display of littered cigarette butts. Always make sure that both the outside and inside of your establishment are both clean and organized. If you have a website only, make sure that your categories make sense and that your consumers will be able to get to what they’re looking for easily.

Pushiness or nonchalance
If you have a team of individuals whose job is to get your brand’s name out there, they should be trained on how to effectively inform people about the brand without being pushy, but at the same time, have a level of enthusiasm about what they’re doing that interests and intrigues whomever they’re speaking to. We’ve all heard tales of the “pushy salesman” and that is not how you want your brand to be presented. You also don’t want it to be presented by someone who looks completely detached and uninterested.

People pay attention to ratings. While there is nothing that you can do about ratings that have already been submitted, you need to address the low ratings and see what you can do to make them better. Don’t just ignore them and don’t spend time trying to make the consumer understand why their review isn’t indicative of the brand/company/product, etc. If a person goes on your site for the first time and reads a negative review, but then sees a comment from a representative of your company apologizing and stating what will be done to try to make things better, there won’t be as bad a first impression left.

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