Home PodcastBlog What Does Your Brand’s Virtual Handshake Communicate?
What Does Your Brand’s Virtual Handshake Communicate?

What Does Your Brand’s Virtual Handshake Communicate?

April 15, 2013

Integrated marketing creates a unified message that’s experienced across multiple platforms. But multiple platforms often can mean a whole other layer of integration, like the meshing of the virtual world and the real world.

This integration matters because it’s not only about tangible marketing materials, but the nonverbal social signals of your brand. This includes everything from your logo, website, and social media accounts, to the photography, font choice, and colors of your business. All of these nonverbal ways of communicating have the incredible power of speaking volumes without saying a word.

How do you know what your business is saying if there are no words?

You can analyze the almighty handshake.

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Photo credit: nasarobonaut

A handshake is a way of getting to know a business better. It’s a small gesture that builds rapport. It allows people to understand you, demonstrates acknowledgment, and shows mutual respect.

But handshakes are not all the same. Here are four different handshakes and what they reveal about your business. Which one feels like you or a business you know?

1. No handshake

Have you ever reached out your hand when getting introduced and were completely ignored? It’s an awkward moment. And it feels rude on the receiving end (or non-receiving end in this case). Not having a website today is that awkward moment. Your customers are outstretching their hand, wanting to learn more about you. But there’s no one on the receiving end.

Solution: Outstretch your hand and hire someone to build your website. If you’re a small or medium-sized business, your time and money may be better spent hiring a professional who not only gets the job done, but gets the job done right.

Gone are the days when IT folks only would create websites. The skilled communications professionals today know how to bring a marketing edge to the web design process. They know how to get good conversion rates, and will work to successfully communicate the core message of a brand.

2. The dead fish

The dead fish business is “just there,” not making an impact of any kind. There’s no backbone or soul behind the brand. The business may have a website. But it’s built on Flash, and dead to everyone with an iPad or iPhone. The same company who does their web hosting may do the design. And the text is illegible because its bright neon green.

The business is nowhere in Google search results. And the Twitter account is the depressing egg photo coupled with an incomplete bio. All social media accounts lie dormant, reeking of passivity.

Solution: Do everything in your power to come across alive and strong online. Show customers you stand for something. Get a web redesign. Hire a writer to create dazzling web copy. Learn about SEO, and implement strategies to rank higher in search results. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to social media, hire someone to manage your accounts. Treat social media seriously so that your business can start building rapport with potential customers.

3. The brush off

This type of handshake is a futile grasp with a quick release, or a shove to the side. This business thinks that it’s only their agenda that matters. It quickly grabs ahold of a customer, but then lets go just as quickly. This business may be tactical, but not strategic. It broadcasts one-way communications only about its business, without listening or communicating to anyone.

This business may hire an intern to handle their communications, and it doesn’t understand the value of purposeful online interactions. The brush off business thinks they’re doing a good job, but they’re only shoving customers aside.

Solution: The adage is true: you pay for what you get. Hire a professional to make sure your business isn’t brushing customers aside. Create customized searches to track keywords related to your business or industry. Monitor what investors, consumers, and competitors are saying about your brand. Gauge if the conversations about your brand are positive, negative, or neutral so that you can adjust your marketing message accordingly. Distill information into a comprehensive report.

Collecting information is merely the start of listening, which is then used to make decisions about the business.


Photo credit: just.Luc

4. The firm grip: This business has humanized its brand, found its voice, and sense of purpose. It directs traffic, shapes perceptions, and builds community. This business has harmonious relationships and adds tons of value by leading customers to a rich and rewarding network, full of useful information.

Solution: Don’t get too comfortable. Keep up with the latest tools and technologies to make sure that you stay ahead and remain relevant.

A brand that understands the synergies between the real world and the virtual uses the handshake to build rapport and make its customers feel appreciated.

How is your handshake building rapport for your business?

This article originally appeared on the Vocus blog.