In today’s world, many times perception is reality. It’s sad but oh so true.

There are so many avenues available for companies to reach out to their prospective or current customer base. But despite the advantages mobility, the Web and social media have offered in helping organizations get their message out, it has made it easier for customers to get information easily. Sometimes that is not such a good thing.

Organizations must strike the right balance in using all the tools at their disposal to create a positive corporate image. First impressions do matter and today’s consumers won’t hesitate to move on if they can’t find what they are looking for fast or if they don’t like what they find.

Below are five simple, but important, ways organizations can shore up their brand image and create a positive reaction.

  1. Active Social Media Presence: Every company in the modern world needs a social media presence. This is more than just throwing up a Facebook or LinkedIn page or sending out self-promoting Tweets on occasion. Social media allows for targeted groups and interaction. Someone inside your company should be populating any social media presence regularly. They should be responding and interacting with the community. And they should be pushing out content that is both educational and relevant and aligns with your business. It’s all about building a trusted community—having it feel inclusive goes a long way.
  2. Website Appearance: Like it or not, your website may be the first impression a potential customer has with your organization. Your website should be dynamic, contain updated industry news or company information, and include any relevant content feeds or blogs. It’s a platform for someone to get to know you better. Use it like Madison Avenue retailers use their display windows. Your website should invite them to come in and learn more. Having a poorly designed or out-of-date, stagnant website will turn away potential customers fast.
  3. Thought Leadership: Take a close look at the content your marketing team is pumping out. Is it all product- and services-related? Or is the content you are making available—either through your website, social avenues or email marketing campaigns—educational? Are you providing value or just spamming? Users are savvy and finicky. Smart companies use these marketing avenues to push out educational content—industry news, analysis, research, white papers—that aligns with their brand’s business. This creates a more positive brand experience because it educates the audience and not just solicits them.
  4. Corporate Culture: Often overlooked in today's fast-paced digital world is the importance of the corporate culture. Word spreads fast nowadays. Employees who have a positive work experience share it through their own social media channels and word gets around. Conversely, employees who are treated miserably or feel taken advantaged of also share. How you run your company is on display for the world to see. Companies will want to do business with like-minded companies that share the same values.
  5. Executive Access: Just as every employee is an extension of his or her company’s brand, the same is true for the C-level executives. If you’re in the C-suite you need exposure. You should be working with marketing to get your name and face out as a trusted industry leader. This should include corporate blogs, speaking engagements and accessibility to the business press. White papers should be produced where you are quoted. You should be speaking at industry conferences, participating in industry roundtables and webcasts. When a potential customer sees a CEO active in his or her industry and a thought leader, it gives them more confidence in the company.