All companies, large or small, new or established, have wished they could go back and have a “do-over” when pitching a prospective client. We’ve all been there. It could be painful. Unfortunately, there is no magic rewind button. There’s no second chance to make a first impression.

It is imperative that your first impression be smart, succinct, and polished.

Your very first encounter, whether electronically or in person, needs to make an indelible impression. The perception you leave with the people you meet should speak to your company’s integrity, professionalism, reputation, authenticity, and credibility. Your audience needs to make a connection, to feel something. They need to know that your company is one they can trust.

But in order to make your mark, you need to invest energy and resources into branding your company. This effort is of utmost importance. A major part of branding is representing your company graphically and verbally. It helps differentiate you from your competitors. This is what will drive the perception of your products or services.

When looking for a creative team, do your homework. Talk to people…lots of people. Research your target demographic. Stay away from fleeting trends and concentrate on your image for the long haul. Make sure the team you select really gets what your company is all about…the who, what, when, where, and why. All of this background information will be the force that drives your brand.

At the very foundation of effective brand awareness is a logo, a striking graphic symbol that will remain long after your first impression has faded. A clean symbol that serves as a reminder of what you offer. Next up would be a tagline. A tagline does with words what a logo does with a symbol. It supports and defines your company. It helps depict what you do. If the logo is strong and the tagline is clever, that is the image that describes your business. Use it always, on all correspondences…always!

Consistency is key. Once you have the logo and tagline under your belt, usage standards need established. They are the do’s and don’ts of logo usage. A color palette and a font family are next in line. All of these things equate to familiarity and brand recognition, that indelible impression I mentioned earlier.

To summarize, establish your niche as a leader in your industry from the ground up. Begin with a strong brand foundation. Because you really DO only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one.