Think of all the spaces you have to make an impression on an audience. Most businesses think of trade shows, corporate festivities, sales meetings and customer-focused events. But in fact, Image Impact Environments (I2Es) are any place where you have the opportunity to enhance or denigrate your brand. Smart companies understand that everything they do (good and bad) has a marketing impact. What may be missed is the understanding that the environments where customers, employees and other encounter the company are an important part of that impact. The same companies who pay careful attention to the user experience for their products and services may fail to take care of the impact that a carefully crafted environment can have on success.
Consider the first impressions you make! Often that first impression is made through marketing. Is your brand and messaging consistent? Is it memorable in a positive manner that has value to your prospects (or recruits, or vendors, or employees)? Is the message and info all about you or about what you can do for them? Many B2B companies grow through referrals. Are you deliberate in presenting messages to current clients —and— are those messages that you want spread and shared when they refer you?
Your office, showroom and manufacturing facilities all offer opportunities to influence preference for your product and services even before a visitor meets you. Exterior signage need not be limited to just your name and tagline nor, in some cases, to simply being a sign on your building.
Lobbies are great opportunities to impact, communicate and enhance your audience’s preference. This can be done visually, through utilization of A/V and interactive elements. Is the furniture in your lobby bland (and thus invisible) or is it distinct and memorable? A graphic on a couch cushion can actually speak volumes! Case studies of past success can say more and convey greater credibility than a canned pitch or expensive brochure. Testimonials add a sense of veracity to what they’ll be hearing from you in the meeting to come. Thought provoking questions (literally) on the wall can set their brains in motion in a crafted direction that will make more of the meeting that is about to start.
While everything above happens before they get past the receptionist, never underestimate the importance of a welcoming receptionist! Today, fewer small and mid-size companies are staffing that position. Often visitors find a phone list in the lobby — that is usually a missed opportunity for an extra impact to your image. Whether your visitors are walking a few feet or across a corporate campus, there are certainly points along the journey where you can make an impact, even before they sit down with their host.
Conference rooms should be staged and planned to maximize what your visitors or stakeholders will see during all of the meetings those spaces will accommodate. The visuals presented in those spaces influence and direct what the participants think and feel. Is outdated technology making a statement that is a drag on your otherwise fabulous firm? Are chairs arranged where too often the seating yields a you against them/opposite sides of the table mentality? How easy is it to present the benefits of what you offer in the space where you are meeting?
Image Impact Environments naturally include the all-important face-to-face opportunities such as trade shows, events, speeches, training sessions, user groups, sales calls, association meetings, activations, sponsorships and community events. As an organization you commit to these initiatives with some goal in mind. Consider what the participants see around you — does it reinforce your brand in a positive way? Have you thought about the functionality, the aesthetics and the message you are communicating?
The fallacy is that companies’ control their own image. In the social media world of high-speed sharing, image is perception. And that perception is dictated by the images that your clients, suppliers and employees have the opportunity to encounter. The most important perceptions are the ones your important constituents (clients, prospects, regulators, vendors, distributors, competitors) develop and share. Companies often have difficulty understanding the power of the visuals they craft. Collectively we see ourselves the way we want to be seen and we fail to honestly evaluate the way we are actually seen. Relying on professionals like Skyline Exhibits and Design presents the opportunity to evaluate your image and maximize the impact of the images in your environment. Hence the term we use so often, image impact environments.