A brand is the promise of an experience.
Walk into a Starbucks and you know you’ll be surrounded by hipsters and overpriced but delicious coffee. Go to Disney and expect to experience “magic.” Shop at Whole Foods and you can anticipate locally-grown or organic produce—and prices to match.
But branding doesn’t stop at nationally-recognized chains. Creating a construction brand prepares your potential clients for an experience they’re willing to pay for.
A great brand is a reflection of what your company is, what your company aspires to be, and how people perceive your company—and your brand should also be based on what your target market wants and needs you to be.
Establishing a quality brand takes perseverance and patience—but it’s worth the effort. Here are five steps to help you brand your construction company.
1. Set a budget.
When you’re deciding how much money to spend on a brand, know that you get what you pay for. A home-made logo probably won’t be of the same quality as a professional design. Professionals suggest that you spend 1%-10% of your overall revenue on marketing—and branding is only a part of that budget. But there are other ways to budget your firm’s brand.
You could make a branding plan to be executed over the year and create a budget to solely meet those needs. But this method doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room if an unexpected opportunity comes up and you need collateral. You could also analyze how much your competition spends—and then match it (though figuring out what they are spending may be difficult, and you can probably use your own resources more efficiently).
For a sample budget, check out this Excel sheet.
No matter how you arrive at your numbers, looking into your company’s finances and determining what you can spend will directly affect how successful your branding campaign is. Setting a budget will also give you a clearer sense of guidelines as to what you are willing to invest in—and what you aren’t.
2. Decide what you want to be known for.
I’m a fan of For Construction Pros’s guide to creating a construction brand: you want to be known for being experienced and of high quality, but not necessarily cheap. Ron Roberts explains why:
What should you hope your brand stands for?
- Well managed
- Good quality
- Good value
Note that I didn’t list low price. You really don’t want the reputation for being the low price provider as that reputation inevitably leads to low margins. You want to be selected for the reasons listed above. The last one, good value, covers the price angle.
You want to work with people who understand value. You don’t want to work with people who only understand price.
In other words, you want your brand to uphold the values of your company without cheapening your product.
So how do you do that?
MarketingDonut suggests that you should “think of your brand as a person.” You’re creating a character, a personality, a placeholder for your business as a whole—the approach should be as holistic as possible. MarketingDonut adds, “Our personality determines how we behave in different situations, how we dress and what we say.” That “personality” should be written down for all workers to see and adhere to, especially when working with a customer.
You don’t want your business to act bipolar; consistent positive experiences are the key to getting repeat customers and quality online reviews. Once you have your business’ personality defined and written down, take the time to document “if-then” scenarios. How do you want your company to act in given situations, like a frustrating change order or with a new client that was referred to you by a previous one? The more you document expectations, the better your brand will stay predictable and uniform.
Once you’ve defined your brand’s “personality,” move on to the visual aspect of branding.
3. Choose a logo that represents you.
There are some construction brands that have done this very well. Consider:
What makes all of these logos powerful? It’s clear that these are construction companies and hints at the kind of construction that they do. These are elements you want to be looking for in your logo.
On the flip side, I have seen many beautiful construction logos that haven’t told the consumer anything. For example, look at:
These two logos give the viewer no knowledge of what the firm does, let alone that they’re a construction firm. Make your area of specialty clear—if not in the logo, then in the slogan. And choose colors that you will be comfortable working with for a long time—they will be handy soon.
Your logo only does well if it actually gets people to call your firm or leads to market-leader recognition. Make sure to include your company name in your logo. Connecting your name with your logo will mean prominently pairing the two whenever you have the chance—on your stationary, on your trucks, and even on your work outfits. Make your brand synonymous with your name, and happy customers will start attributing great work to your firm.
4. Storm the Internet.
Once you’ve figured out your brand, it’s time to build a website around your logo. Choose the same and complementary colors to further accentuate your brand. Set up social media to drive traffic to your site, and blog about construction to boost your company’s SEO. Your website will often be your first opportunity to make a good impression on a potential client, so invest well in it.
Also, encourage your happy customers to review you on Yelp, especially for remodelers. Clients will be far more comfortable with a construction company that has a history of doing good work as opposed to one that is known for its terrible customer service.
5. Choose your superstar.
The Brand Constructors has a particularly good idea for branding your firm… or more specifically, your people. After setting up your logo and your website, consider marketing your best team members. People want to hire experts, and they’re willing to pay for it. Having a branded expert on the team guarantees your customers they will have access to someone they trust.
They write, “Being the expert in their industry is much more powerful than being a generalist in your field.” So take your best people and send them to trade shows, advertise them on flyers, and set up their own social media accounts for your business. As a bonus, it makes those team members feel important, leading to more job satisfaction.
Beyond staying on time and on budget (likely through the use of construction management software), what have you done to brand your construction firm? What worked? What didn’t? Leave your answers in the comments below!