The most valuable asset a company can have is the tiny piece of real estate in the minds of their customers and prospects. It means they recognize who you are and what you stand for. Billions of dollars are spent every year positioning, building and creating brands for this reason. That’s why I’m always surprised when I hear an executive say they don’t believe in advertising, marketing and promotion. What do they know that American Standard, Nike, Carrier, Anheuser Busch, Maytag, Lennox and others don’t? One thing for sure, they rarely work for companies that have brand preference and if they do, it’s a sure bet their brand is on its way down.
Developing a brand that truly represents your company and its products and services is not necessarily an easy task. But it is not an impossible one either. The point is that most highly successful companies develop brand strategies that create unique positions for themselves in the marketplace. The brand, to these organizations, is the customer relationship. It is the identity the company has in the marketplace with its customers.
Strategic marketing communication programs have many different elements. Brand building is one of the most challenging. In the process of branding, we have to manage the customer’s perceptions and associations that are applied to the values that managers, employees, your product lines and service carry out into the marketplace every day.
From answering the phone to sending out the invoice and everything that comes in between lay the foundation for your branding image. When a customer or prospect sees your ad or the logo on your truck, your brand, one way or another, is at work.
Here are a few basic tips and ideas to help you make sure that your brand image is working to convey the values and vision of your organization.
1. All Aboard. Start with your board of advisors or executive committee and work your way through your organization. Make sure everyone understands the message and what you are trying to do. Don’t let the marketing department or advertising agency put their spin on the message, creative development is one thing — spin is another.
2. Simple is Good. You’re in the people comfort business and there is a lot you can do to build around that. Ever listen to some of the stuff that comes out of large software manufacturers? “Scaleable enterprise database solutions in collaborative settings that expand seamlessly and free resources that amplify influence.” Excuse me?
3. Consistency is King. Bridge the gap between the promise of your product or service and the desire the customer has for it, do it often, and do it consistently.
4. Have a Clue. Do some research among past customers and find out what kind of brand position, brand identity, and brand equity you have — or don’t. Then, adjust accordingly.
5. Use The Net. Google “Branding.” There are resources available to help you improve, take advantage of the free ones, and consider hiring a professional to help you develop your brand. You are an expert with comfort systems, there are experts that can help you with your brand; don’t be afraid to make the investment.
6. You Can Change. Did you listen and do some research? Is your brand in the basement? Just like everything else with some time, money, effort and strategy you can change it.
7. High and Mighty. It’s hard to build that great brand you have, and it may have taken several generations to do it. Don’t get complacent, and don’t get arrogant.
Terry Tanker is the owner of JFT Properties LLC and publisher of HVACR Business magazine. He has more than 25 years of experience in the advertising and publishing industries. He began his career with a business-to-business advertising agency. Prior to forming JFT Properties LLC in January 2006 he spent 20 years with a large national publishing and media firm where he was the publisher of several titles in the mechanical systems marketplace. In addition to his experience in advertising and publishing Terry has worked closely with numerous industry-related associations over the years including AHRI NATE and ABMA.
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