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The following Q&A covers how to build a winning brand strategy in the construction sector. The provided responses were taken from brand strategist and founder of Red Shoes Marketing Group Kim Gauthier. Kim specializes in brand marketing for small- and medium-sized businesses. She has more than 20 years’ experience serving the B2B and B2C community, assisting brands like E! Entertainment Television, TV Guide and TVGN.
Our Q&A with Kim contains detailed answers to many common questions regarding brand marketing and planning. These responses are intended to help you prioritize efforts for preparing and executing brand management strategies.
What is branding?
A brand communicates three main principles:
- A company’s promise to its customers
- The differentiation between your brand and the competition
- What buyers can expect from a company’s product or service
Focus on these three principles when identifying and developing your brand. Then combine with messaging and visual pieces, such as logos and taglines to further communicate these three principles.
Let the buyer know what’s in it for them. When crafting messaging, review copy that begins with “we” to be sure the message answers the inherent “What’s in it for me” question. The WIFM axiom applies to every communication to buyers.
Why is branding important to business?
You want customers to think about you in a particular way. They need to recognize you and feel trust before they do and continue to do business with you. It’s more than just visuals, they need to connect and become associated with your brand.
For instance, Toyota has positioned itself to be more than just an automotive manufacturer. The company has worked hard to portray itself as a brand committed to safety and dependability. Key marketing messages have focused on the company’s promise of greater car reliability and through this consumers can expect great resale value of their Toyota vehicle.
The bottom line is when you build a strong brand, you build a stronger business.
What are some common brand-related mistakes made by construction firms?
Competition is pretty stiff in the construction industry, so I recommend companies taking the time to hone in on an aspect of business that they can hang their hat on. While you might be able to do a variety of services, focus on a niche. Don’t be all things to all people. Knowing your company’s specialty is the beginning of making a brand. Think about what sets you apart from the rest. Is it your unmatched focus toward safety or a guarantee you can provide that others can’t?
Make sure your messaging hits buyers’ pain points and focus on how your business provides the solution. Don’t forget to create a sense of urgency in your messaging and make an appeal to basic human desires. Consider your product or service through the lens of its benefits to buyers.
These questions might help:
- How do you want your customers to perceive you?
- Are you the first, best or only in your category?
- What do you do better than anyone else?
How can construction firms build a strong brand?
Once you determine your niche, make this the basis of all your marketing messages. Then start seeking out supporting evidence that will further support this idea in the minds of your buyers. For instance, are their certifications, partnerships or affiliations you can focus on to drive your brand’s stance?
Placing an article in a trade publication can help further your position as an expert. Likewise, simply sponsoring an event can further your company’s prominence in an industry.
What are a few often overlooked opportunities that construction firms can leverage to further brand awareness?
Your company should be a part of all conversations within your target industry and amongst your target audience. This includes direct and indirect communication. The best way to indirectly reach buyers is through causes. Buyers are more likely to trust brands that support social causes.
Become involved in your target audience’s community this will help build ongoing trusting relationships. Host a fundraiser or send a crew of workers wearing company t-shirts to work or assist at a charity event. The goals is to build name recognition within your community and associate your brand with a cause.
However, your company truly needs to be committed to the cause you select. If a buyer’s experiences and perceptions don’t match your claims that buyer will lose trust in you. The more authentic your brand appears, the more attention a buyer will pay to your company’s messaging and more likely to make a purchase. It pays to a have a deep commitment to a cause.
Is branding the best marketing approach?
Branding is what starts your marketing approach. Once you establish the three main objectives of branding (promise, differentiation and expectations) then you can proceed with making a marketing plan. Everything you do needs to support your positioning and drive your three main objectives. For instance, a great tagline will reinforce your positioning.
Why is consistency in brand messaging important?
You never want to confuse your target audience. This doesn’t mean you only have one message that must be repeated over and over. This means whatever message you choose for a particular campaign must be consistent across all marketing channels and touch points. Your message can change per season, but repetition is key.
For example, Starbucks may want to focus one month on selling ‘Beverage A’ and the following month on promoting ‘Beverage B.’ Throughout the campaign for promoting ‘Beverage A,’ messaging stays focused on this particular product and never is ‘Beverage B’ mentioned. However, both campaigns will contain messaging that supports the overarching brand promise.
Why do companies need to consider the brand experience?
In business-to-business marketing, you need a company to engage with you and maintain a perception of you. You want them to use your service, so you need to build trust. Trust is established through authentic interactions with your buyer. This means you are staying to your three brand pillars and constantly working toward the perception you want your customers to have toward your company.
However, don’t just limit your focus on the customer experience; concentrate on delivering remarkable internal experiences for your employees. Happy employees equal happy customers. As your front line, employees play a big role in delivering on your company’s promises.
When an employee understands what your brand stands for and believes your brand’s authenticity, they are more likely to be involved and loyal. They will become tireless defenders of your brand. This in turn results in better customer service because they will be engaging with your buyers in a positive manner.
How can a company maintain brand alignment with changing goals?
Most companies are rooted in a mission; albeit goals may change, the overall mission doesn’t.
So, a brand can modify elements to go after a new target audience. Like, a company can modernize the colors of its brand or reinforce with extra visuals, but the overall perceptions that a brand built do not change.
A brand can adapt to the needs of its customers, but the overall brand promise should remain consistent. For instance, when Coke introduced a caffeine free version to its product line it was trying to reach a new target buyer. Although, the company made a change to its business practice, the brand continued to portray itself as the classic traditional cola. Your business model can change, but it should always reflect the character of your business.
How can a construction firm stay ahead of the competition?
Companies can prevent their brand from becoming outdated by setting up a business development segment to view and analyze industry trends. Have your team review what’s going on, what’s coming up and set strategies to match those trends. Doing so is critical to the longevity of your brand.
Kodak is a prime example of a brand that failed to adapt and embrace industry trends. The company was slow to make changes to adapt to the digital world. The company failed to keep up with industry trends and progressive technology.
To ensure longevity, really have a plan. What are your seasonal goals to make your brand more valuable?
Create editorial calendars to determine what your monthly focus is going to be. If your team does not have the bandwidth, look to an outside consultant who can help you plan and gather the needed messaging and visuals to elevate your brand. Planning keeps top of mind, and with outside help and expertise you will stay ahead of the latest trends.