Pop Quiz! Name the following companies:
- An Apple with a bite taken out
- Golden Arches
- A Swoosh
- A Roof
That’s our logo. Simple. To the point. But it has meaning. It brands our name…DarrenSlaughter dot Com. It denotes construction with the use of the roof, but it also, subliminally, says safety and security, because a roof does that…it protects. I mean, we could have used anything to represent construction, but we chose a roof for a very specific reason…security. When you work with us, we want you to feel that your best interests come first, even if that means NOT working with us for a better solution.
The other logos; even without seeing the iconic brands, you know that they represent Apple, McDonalds and Nike. These are some of the most powerful brands in the world, ranked by Forbes as number one, six and eighteen respectively. But what’s the point of this little exercise, and what does it have to do with your company?
Branding is a marketing strategy whose goal is to set your company apart from the crowd. Initially used to differentiate the owners of cattle, branding has become one of the most important factors in a business’ success or failure. While branding isn’t as putting your name on a cow, the function is the same: to get someone to associate a logo or tagline with your product.
Branding has several goals
The first, and most effective, is known as top-of-mind awareness. Top-of-mind branding means that when someone names a type of product, they think of your brand. Perhaps the best example of this is the Band-Aid brand; most people don’t even know that a “Band-Aid” is actually called a “bandage.”
Aided awareness happens when someone sees a list of brands and recognizes your brand. A brand with “aided awareness” serves as kind of a memory aide and allows companies to advertise products subtly and unconsciously keep their brand in a consumer’s mind.
An example of this is Nike’s Swoop-there are tons of billboards featuring just this logo. In addition, the consumer’s familiarity with this logo means that everyone wearing a Nike shoe is advertising for Nike, as each shoe generally has a Swoop on its side.
Strategic awareness is like top-of-mind awareness, but it aims to get consumers to associate a certain brand with exclusive features or quality. This is called a “unique selling point” and can get your customer to purchase your product, even if it is more expensive than a “generic” brand.
An example of occurs with Bose speakers. Although certain speakers are just as good as those made by Bose, Bose speakers have built their reputation on quality speakers; this means that most people will spend more on a Bose speaker even if there is no difference in actual quality or function.
Just because your business is probably never going to be as large or recognizable as McDonald’s or Nike doesn’t mean that it can’t benefit from branding. In fact, branding for small companies is one of the keys to growing a business because it can l make the difference between growing a company and a failing one, as the slightest change in sales has a larger effect on a smaller business.
Most contractors name their business after themselves or put their name in the title (e.g. “Joe’s Plumbing”). They may put a generic picture on the side of their van, but this type of branding is largely ineffective; there are a lot of Joe’s (and most likely a good percentage of them are plumbers) and lots of plumbers use a generic picture of a faucet or flood for a logo. This means that your logo won’t stand out from the crowds, much less become synonymous with quality. People will see your van and drive right by, ruining any chance to capture their attention.
When branding your company, you want to grab someone’s attention. Seeing your work truck or van should leave a subconscious memory that people will think of later. This is especially true if you are a contractor, as often people will call you during a stressful time (such as when their basement is flooded or their roof is damaged).
During such times, people are going to be anxious to get their problem fixed, and have a tendency to open the phonebook and call the first name they see. Unless your name is “Aaronson,” this could be a problem-unless people remember seeing your brand.
A distinct logo also makes your brand look more professional, which will increase the likelihood that someone will go with you over the competition, as most people associate a professional brand with quality work. In addition, if you are offering a special or special service (such as a warranty), associating this with your brand will increase business. If you’ve ever said, “You know, I saw that X is offering a percentage off. Let’s try them out,” you know what I mean.
There’s a reason companies spend millions each year on branding-it increases business. No matter how small your business, you can benefit from branding. When determining your brand, make sure to remember that your logo should be unique and your tag lines should make people associate you with quality service. Creating a proper brand can make the difference between a successful business and a mediocre one.