We’ve been specializing in homebuilder marketing for quite some time and know just how to ensure our homebuilding clients get the best exposure for their new homes. That being said, we always spend time getting to know our homebuilding partners before building their new website, discussing the importance of marketing automation and necessity of best SEO practices. But we always start the conversation asking about their homebuilding “brand”. It’s surprising to learn how often homebuilders can’t give a simple answer as to what is their brand.
What exactly is a brand? Does such a thing exist or is it just more marketing strategy mumbo jumbo slight of hand? Some people think their color scheme and logo make up their brand. What do you think? I believe that the concept of ‘brand’ is slightly overrated and very misunderstood.
I believe a brand is a promise delivered! That promise is expressed in many ways: customer service, great product, value, price, quick response, etc. Great marketing always comes down to one thing: Tell your audience, in a compelling way, what your company does that is unique and better than your competition. Answer that question and perform the answer consistently, and you’re on your way to building a good brand. That doesn’t mean you don’t need a good logo or consistent marketing or a web design that provides customers with a great experience. You do!
Don’t confuse the concept of image building with branding. They are similar, but not the same. The following is a simplified definition of branding found in Wikipedia®:
A brand includes a name, logo, slogan, and/or design scheme associated with a product or service. Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the use of the product or service and through the influence of advertising, design and media commentary. A brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to the product and serves to create associations and expectations around it.
The simplest concept of branding is that it’s much more than images, icons or names. The capacity to own a brand is larger and more far-reaching than any ad or marketing campaign could ever hope to be. Brand loyalty is truly a gift to companies from customers when the business proves, beyond any doubt, that they are worthy of their trust. This usually occurs when the company’s performance, credibility and consistency have risen above the competition. At that point, the company becomes the proud owner of that which only customers can give and take away — solid brand recognition.
Image advertising can buttress an existing brand, but rarely will it ever create one on its own. If you have a bad image, you need to change it by improving your product, service, or the client’s perception of both. Product image is about reputation, credibility and standing in the community. While you can control your company’s brand identity (which is its graphic appearance), you have less control over its image (which is the general perception your customers have).
Brand is about the consistent performance of quality and benefits that you articulate and, hopefully, maintain in numerous media. It’s a strategic way of establishing your company and products in the minds of customers by using advertising (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, outdoor medium and the Internet), collateral materials (flyers, brochures, print, direct mail, trade shows and telemarketing) and even point-of-purchase materials among other things to “brand” your image into the minds of your consumers. Much like a rancher brands his image into the hindquarter of his herd.
Branding 101 teaches that a brand is more than a name or a company logo and that customer loyalty can’t be earned by an ad. In order to gain customer brand loyalty — which is a concept that is fading every day — you must gain customer’s trust over time by consistently performing in a fashion that demonstrates your credibility.
Try these five brand-building ideas and employ them into your marketing strategy to begin creating better brand recognition:
1. Make a specific brand promise and consistently deliver on that promise.
2. Keep your marketing consistent (website, logo, collateral materials, signs, etc.)
3. Don’t attempt to be everything to everyone. The Internet gives businesses the ability to niche our products and services like never before.
4. Position someone in your organization as an expert in your field using seminars, social media marketing, editorials/white papers, blogs or other means.
5. Your business needs to own something if you don’t have a unique product or service: a story, a unique offering, and a social audience.
Branding is important, but it isn’t simply a one-step process. The concept of owning a brand is popular, but the process is much more difficult. To own a brand is to possess the top-level of recognition of a category in the consumer’s mind. Xerox owns the copying category. FedEx owns the overnight shipping category. And Godiva owns the chocolate gift category. What category can you own?