Brand Building

Brand Building

For professionals in the home repair business, a strong brand can be a powerful tool for growing your business. But how do you build a brand? Most of us can name our favorite restaurant brands, store brands, tool brands and more … but how did they get us to remember them? More importantly, how do they get us to PREFER their brand over the competition?

No matter what home repair category you specialize in – roofs, siding, HVAC, windows, foundations, even landscaping services – there are some important things you should know about creating your brand, building your brand and protecting your brand.

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Brand Building and Your Logo

When home repair professionals think about their brands, probably the first thing that comes to mind is their logo. A company’s name and logo are important parts of what makes a brand, but they’re only the beginning.

Your brand is more than your logo. Your brand is more than your name, your slogan, or even your advertising. Your brand is actually the entire sum of homeowners’ experiences with you. Everything from how you answer the phone to how you invoice for work can impact how homeowners think about you. And how they think of you is your true brand.

Said another way, your brand isn’t what YOU say it is, it’s what your customers say it is!

Every touchpoint you have with customers and potential customers can either contribute to a positive impression or negative impression that all come together to form the idea about who you are as a company.

Your name and logo can and should become “shorthand” for this combination of impressions. Try a quick experiment: imagine the name and logo of one of your favorite brands. How does it make you feel? Chances are, it conjures up more than just a simple idea of their product. It might stir a sense of trust, or quality, or fun depending what it is.

Think of your name and logo as the packaging where your customers keep all of their feelings about your company. It pays to have nice packaging but what you’re putting INTO the packaging is important, too. The very best logos tell consumers a little about what’s in the package using colors, typography and professional design that suggests what kind of company you are and what customers can expect when they do business with you.

Brand Building and Your Competitive Advantage

We all know that a strong brand can be a competitive advantage, but it goes beyond simply having customers and prospects recognize your name. Ideally, the thoughts and feelings that you package up in your brand add up to a unique advantage to doing business with you.

Consider products that are supplied by several companies. Chances are, one of these companies is the “affordable” option. Another might be the “luxury” option. Still others might be the “fun,” “hip,” or “rugged” options. Each company has found a way to position its brand to give customers a way to differentiate them from their competition.

Differentiation is powerful stuff! Why? Because customers have millions of things competing for their attention. As human beings, we can only absorb so much. A well-defined brand gives us a quick way to think about any given company and to sort out how we feel about them and, more importantly, if they are the kind of company we feel like we should do business with.

Best of all, customers who identify with a particular brand will often rationalize choosing that brand despite possible negative factors like higher price, longer wait or less selection.

It’s interesting to note that not even the strongest brands can capture the hearts (and business) of every consumer. The best strategy is to stake out a brand position that makes you relevant to the largest, most profitable group of potential customers. Companies that try to be “all things” to all people are often far less successful than companies who choose a specific position and work to be “everything” to the people in their defined audience.

Start with these two questions: What does my company do better than anyone else? And, who do we really want to work with? Use the answer to the first question to create a promise you can make to the audience you’ve defined in the second question. You’ll be on your way to creating a brand position that can be a touchstone for all of your advertising, sales and customer service.

Brand Building and Consistency

Once a company figures out who they are and who they’re for, the challenge becomes staying true to that identity. Brands take time to become established in the hearts and minds of consumers.

Many marketers make the mistake of creating a new logo and tagline, introducing them with a new commercial, and thinking they’ve completed a “rebrand.” There’s no question that those are important steps in the process, but they’re really just the beginning.

Once you’ve identified what your brand is, expressing it consistently over time is the key to building its strength. That means consistent demonstration of your core strengths through your advertising and your team’s interaction with customers and prospects.

Customers who identify with a particular brand will often rationalize choosing that brand despite possible negative factors like higher price, longer wait or less selection.

In our Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation for Home Repair Pros, we discuss how important it is to advertise consistently. Many consumers only notice your advertising when it becomes relevant to them because they’re “in the market” for the kinds of services you provide. You never know when this might be, so you have to always be “on.” In the same way, it’s important that your advertising has consistent messaging and a consistent look and feel so that when your services ARE top of mind for a homeowner, they have a sense that they’ve “seen you before” and heard good things.

And your advertising isn’t the only thing that has to be consistent. It’s important that your team members demonstrate your brand values in every interaction with customers. The only way they can do that is if you’ve let them know what your brand stands for. As part of any brand rollout – and periodically thereafter – it’s important to describe and reinforce how your team can “live” your brand. Brand behavior can be encouraged through office signage, team rallies, group presentations and more. The goal is to make your brand personality a consistent part of your company culture.

Brand Building and Making Sales

Once you’ve sold a job, the brand has paid off and its “mission accomplished,” right? Not exactly. Making a sale is a fantastic validation of your efforts, but it’s only the beginning of an important second half of brand building.

The interaction your crew and your billing department has with your new customer is critical and has to live up to all the brand promises you’ve made to get the business in the door.

It used to be that customer referrals were the only thing that post-sale brand behavior impacted. Not so, anymore. Today, with the proliferation of social media and online reviews, companies have to be sure that customer expectations are met. If you’ve done an exceptional job at your branding, many customers may “parrot” your key branding themes in their posts and reviews. This is powerful reinforcement for prospects considering your services.

Studies have also shown that continued and consistent advertising can continue benefiting you even after the sale. Consumers who see your advertising after they’ve bought from you feel positive reinforcement for their smart decision. They’re more likely to rate you higher for customer satisfaction and also more likely to refer you to others.

Brand Building and the Value of Your Company

A final consideration when thinking about brand building is the value that it can add to your company. Thus far, we’ve discussed how a brand can help you make more sales and how it might even help customers rationalize paying more for your services.

But beyond the day-to-day financial benefits, a strong brand can deliver real value when the time comes to do succession planning. Brands like Apple and Coca-Cola have brands that have been estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars. But you don’t have to be a global brand to have the intangible asset of your brand boost the overall value of your company.

Even small companies that are recognized and respected in their trade areas will sell for more money and at higher multiples than their lesser-known peers. For that reason, every dollar you invest in building a quality brand has the potential to pay off today and for many years to come.

RCG Contractor Marketing is a company dedicated to helping home service professionals turn their marketing into a profitable investment. See our related articles for more in-depth information on the topics covered in “The Ultimate Guide to Brand Building for Home Repair Pros.” Or, contact us for information on how we can create custom solutions to help you build your sales and your business.

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