Laying the Foundation
To become a household name among potential clients, you should follow some branding basics:
- Be consistent. Consistency allows your customers to gradually recognize your brand. This consistency encompasses how you do your work, and how you promote yourself in the marketplace. Your business cards, letterhead, envelopes, job site signs, truck signs, trailer signs, etc. should all have the same look.
- Pick a logo that is visible and easy to recognize from afar (How recognizable are the Golden Arches?).
- Make sure all your employees understand your construction practices or processes. Everyone at our company knows that we do whatever it takes to make the customer happy. Even our customers know our philosophy. We work on building an image of doing the project right the first time and in a professional manner.
Know Your Clients
If you are like many design/build companies, you probably don’t need to advertise in the Yellow Pages because a lot of your customers come from referrals. Instead, determine who your clients are and how you acquire them and then build a presence where they are most likely to be found.
For instance, many of our company’s clients are involved in community service projects. Consequently, we actively support the community service organizations running those projects and work with individuals involved in those organizations. We have developed a presence in a way that directly relates and resonates with our clients, we garner positive local publicity, plus we help our community.
Stay Focused and Spend the Time
We pride ourselves on our professionalism. From the first time a customer contacts us to well after we have completed the project, everything we do, every contact we have with that customer, says “professional.” Our reputation is important. It is part of our brand. So we promote ourselves by promoting our reputation.
Our aim is to continually forge a direct relationship between our logo, name, image and professionalism. This does take time. Even the big boys did not create their branding overnight. Procter & Gamble has worked for 167 years to become a household name; Pepsico, a century. Of the top 25 brands in the world, Microsoft is the youngest — at 20 years old.
Sometimes building a brand means moving people around or out. We take a different approach to hiring employees. We maintain the philosophy that we can teach a person how to estimate, but we cannot teach that person how to interact well with others. Therefore, we look for the personality we feel is a great fit and then teach the skills. You cannot take the skills and then teach a personality. Look for the people who meet your company’s brand and train them.
You have to constantly look for ways to get your company in front of the public. It takes persistence and a proactive marketing campaign, but your goal should be to have your company as the premier company in your industry.
Get in the newspaper, on television, on the radio or in magazine articles. Hold offices in community service or volunteer organizations, donate your services to worthy causes and hold seminars. Show your brand by your attitude, dress, look, paper work, communication, answering the telephone, office, trucks, employees — the list continues.
Everything you do should ultimately result in building the brand of your company. Branding is a well-planned process and may take some time, but it pays off in the end. You need to be the first company people think of when they think of your industry.
Erik Anderson is vice president of Anderson-Moore Builders, Inc. in Winston-Salem, NC. He also currently serves as vice president of the Home Builders Association of Winston-Salem. For more information, contact Anderson via e-mail.
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