Still one of the best TV commercials ever. No messaging or dialogue either.
On November 17, 2010, the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicagoland (HBAGC) held their annual awards ceremony. The Key Awards are given to the top residential builders in various categories from new homes to bathroom remodeling and everything in between. On the marketing side, the HBAGC recognizes excellence in marketing and advertising with the Sammy Awards.
Our long-standing, and fantastic client, Great Rooms Designers & Builders won ten Key Awards in eight categories – proving once again, they are one of the top, custom home design + build companies servicing the Chicago North Shore.
To keep the wins coming, their website, created by Acceler8 Creative, won a Sammy Award for Best Builder Website. This is a perfect example of how a website should grow and evolve to suit the needs of the brand and truly work as a sales and marketing tool. We initially had a single page when the company first started. The second generation which is the basis for the current site was developed in late 2008. We now have over 100 pages in the site, yet it still remains very approachable, and easy to read and navigate.
Great Rooms also won a second Sammy for Best Builder Newsletter, produced by Acceler8 Creative. The early stages of the newsletter were a collaborative effort with recognition going to Susan Fireside of Winter and Construction for work on the initial layout concept. And, copywriting provided by Christa Velbel of CopyContentCreativity. The objective of the newsletter was to give the recipients something worthwhile and informative, still reinforcing the Great Rooms brand, and avoid being just another promotional piece. Mission accomplished, and we set the bar even higher once again for the competition.
Special thanks to Craig Wolski, Susan Hamilton and everyone at Great Rooms for being so awesome to work with and entrusting Acceler8 Creative with their brand development and visual communications. We’re looking forward to an even better 2011!
Without always being able to get a solid and immediate ROI measurement on brand-building initiatives, many companies often relinquish the importance of investing in their brands. It’s sometimes seen merely as an expense with no true correlation to the success of the company.
However, as we’ve discussed many times over, there are four key things a strong brand can to for your bottom line:
- Maintain customer loyalty
- Increase lead conversion
- Resist commoditization
- Command premium pricing
Maintain customer loyalty – reinforces your customers’ commitment to you, reassures them of their expectations in your products and services, and prevents them from buying elsewhere simply based on price. Also, makes selling additional products and services to them much easier.
Increase lead conversion – a strong brand that is known and trusted gives people confidence in becoming customers, and alleviates the need to “prove” yourself.
Resist commoditization – because of your unique brand promise and/or “value-add” to your products and services, they are “worth more” than just face value. Decisions to buy your products or services are base on more than just price.
Command premium pricing – people know “you get what you pay for” with strong brands. In other words, if customers trust your brand they will spend more for your products and services.
Pat LaPointe reiterates, defines and breaks down these four points further in a recent article entitled “Ten Specific Ways Brand Investments Pay Back”.
One of the most frequent questions I get about measuring marketing is: “How do we measure the impact of our investments in brand development on the bottom line?”
If you’re really looking for an answer, here goes. There are ten basic ways a stronger brand creates financial value:
- It can attract more customers, either directly or through stronger word of mouth (WOM).
- It can encourage customers to spend more with you, making them more receptive to other solutions you can offer, or just more likely to give you the first shot at meeting their needs.
- It can influence the mix of products/services customers buy from you, since buyers normally hold strong brands in some degree of esteem, and respect the “advice” of the brand.
- It can reduce customers’ price sensitivity, allowing you to earn more margin from every dollar they spend with you.
- It can help you keep customers active longer, or at the very least, act as a “safety net” to give you time or opportunity to fix problems that arise along the way.
- It can help you accelerate the customer’s buying process, reducing the probability that something happens to close the wallet before the spending happens.
- It can help you attract and retain better talent at lower recruiting and retention costs, since people want to be associated with attractive brands.
- It can reduce operating expenses by influencing supplier concessions from companies who want to be associated with top-tier brand partners.
- It can attract more/better channel partners.
- And if that’s not enough for your CFO, tell him or her how stronger brands can actually help lower your organization’s cost-of-capital borrowing costs, due to the lower risks of lending to a company with strong brands (all other things being equal). It’s not unlike how studies have consistently shown that taller people make more money than equally qualified people of average or lower height.
Most of the time, the business case for branding investments can be made in some combination of these ten elements. Of course, you’ll need some data (or at least some well-structured assumptions) to make the case credibly. But it can be done with even just a little data.
You’ll also need some idea of just when you expect to see these effects begin to occur, and what the early indicators of progress might be (e.g. shift in perceptions, website engagement, etc.). Setting up your marketing metrics to monitor these milestones becomes more crucial to the cause as your timeframe for payback gets longer.
Spending is still tough these days, but investing in yourself, your products and your services can mean the difference between bickering over price and getting a ROI back tenfold.
Brand initiatives can take many forms – strategy and messaging, visual communication, social networking, etc. – or a combination of any or all. Contact us today to help assess your brand’s strengths and weaknesses to develop a strategy that will make the most of a worthy investment.
Visit Acceler8 Creative’s website.
One of the purposes of building a brand is to give your company and/or products an identity, and stand out from the crowd. Differentiating yourself from the competition must be multi-dimensional to do it effectively. It entails defining your position in the marketplace, your brand promise, your voice and message, and your image. When done correctly, it strengthens your relationship with your customers, and secures your position among the competition.
Be big somewhere
Hopefully, you’re rolling out of bed each morning to do what you love. However, at the end of the day, we want to be successful and afford a good living. Part of that means staying ahead of the competition, but there can only be ONE number one. Some don’t want to be number one. They are comfortable following the leader with a “me too” approach to their branding efforts. An obvious downside to not being at the top is that they are left wrestling for crumbs and leftovers from the big dogs. And, inevitably battling over price with their customers.
Still, some wish they were number one, but can’t compete with their market leaders’ spending budgets. Have no fear. This is where brand strategy plays out the best. If you can’t be first in your category – create a new one. This allows you to become the innovator and “big fish” in your new-found pond. Not to mention, this gives you a slice of the pie to enjoy all to yourself.
Give ‘em what no one else can
If you don’t have any competitors, you’re one of the luck few – or you ARE the government. Inevitably, we have someone offering the same products or services as we do at the same or better price. So, why should a new customer choose you over your competitors? A strong and unique brand promise tells customers they get something valuable from you that none of your competitors can offer. Whatever this “value-add” is takes some creative thinking and analysis. It’s usually intangible, but is highly beneficial to your customers and prospects in making their lives easier or better.
Tell a good story
Communicating the correct information about your company, products and services effectively to your prospects, customers and stakeholders through all channels of communication helps strengthen your brand and consistently defines who you are and what you offer. Although, information that is relevant to a product engineer ordering your widget is probably not going to resonate well with a potential investor, an effective messaging platform will allow you to capture the attention of either and lead them to take the appropriate action. This can put you far ahead of your competition who uses a “blanket message” approach throughout all their communication.
Another consideration is the tone and angle of your messaging. Is it appropriate for your audience? Is it more effective than your competitors? A company offering business consulting services to its clients will want to be more nurturing in tone than a company who makes diesel engines for industrial equipment. A leader and innovator in a particular industry may want to elevate themselves with a more solutions-centric angle to selling their products, rather than get mixed in with the competition selling products and battling over pricing.
No two strong brands are exactly alike
The most obvious form of distinction is your look or brand image. There’s a fine line between being so different that you’re customers don’t relate, and being too safe that you blend into the crowd. Your brand image should represent, support and enhance your story to complete your overall brand. In doing so, an effective brand image also creates impact with your customers and prospects – giving them an emotional connection or reaction. After all, people make decisions logically, and buy emotionally – it’s what FEELS right to them.
Putting it all together
Part strategy, part creativity – put the two together, and with due diligence you can build a strong brand that is distinct and perseveres over your competition. It will help you connect more effectively with your prospects and customers – shortening the sales cycle and helping you spend marketing dollars more efficiently.
Want to learn more? We’d love to talk to you about it, and figure out how to put the D in distinction for you.
For more information about brand-building and to see how we’ve helped our clients, visit Acceler8 Creative’s website.
The attributes of a strong brand are CLARITY, DISTINCTION, TRUST and IMPACT. At least that’s how we define it at Acceler8 Creative. What do each of these really mean? What role do they play in the overall integrity of the brand?
I could go on all day about this, but to prevent your coffee from getting cold, I’ll delve into CLARITY for now. In my opinion, it can actually be dissected into three smaller segments – CLARITY, CONSISTENCY and COHERENCE.
Obviously the most important of the three C’s. It can be applied and viewed at a couple different levels – making it multi-dimensional to the effect of the overall brand. One meaning that defines what every brand strives to be is “freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity”. In this regard, CLARITY can be applicable both to the brand image as well as the promise. Does your brand image “look” different than the competition’s? Does the look personify your brand attributes and who you are? What can you promise your customers that no one else can?
The other definition of CLARITY – “clearness of the perception or understanding” – is more closely related to the voice of your brand and how effectively you tell your story. Are you reaching your audience(s) at the correct level of communication? And more importantly, do they understand? The messaging you’re using at the latest tradeshow to attract new customers is probably not going to have much relevance to your investors and stakeholders.
It’s the key to pulling it all together for powerful communication. CONSISTENCY is defined as “the harmony and uniformity among the parts”. This can be applied to both the message and the look of your brand as well. Does your collateral look related – like it belongs together? If there are multiple product lines or families, what’s the common thread tying them together?
From a messaging standpoint, your audience(s) should be getting a consistent story that defines who you are, what you do, why they need you, and how they can take action. Though not every brand touch point will need all this information. Are you delivering the appropriate parts of your message to the right people?
The definition of COHERENCE is “the logical interconnection of ideas”. This also is more closely related to the voice of your brand, and how well you tell your story. It can help define solutions rather than just products and services. It makes new or seemingly unrelated initiatives on-target and relevant to your brand. Do your story and initiatives lead back to a centralized brand promise or home base message?
At face value, this may see like a bunch of philosophical garble, but with some vision, strategy and creative talent, it melds together to form a brand that increases customer loyalty, shortens sales cycles, resists commoditization, and commands premium pricing. We can help you align the proper strategy and messaging, and along with creativity and intuition, infuse it all into the necessary channels of communication to give you the optimal impact on your audience(s) and customers. Contact us to help you implement the three C’s. (Or to get together for a coffee in case yours did get cold.)
For more information about brand-building and to see how we’ve helped our clients, visit Acceler8 Creative’s website.
Visual communication is often what people think of for telling their story and communicating their brand attributes to their audience. Let’s step back and look at some key positions within a company that are potentially, highly-effective and important, yet often overlooked for communicating a brand.
If you’re at all familiar with our branding philosophy, you already know that a brand is built on clarity, distinction, trust and impact. When you boil it down, your brand is the relationship you have with your customers. Therefore, communicating consistently through all channels of communication is of utmost importance. This means everyone who comes in contact with your brand should receive the APPROPRIATE impression and message – this can differ in order to communicate effectively to a specific audience. We’ll take a look at how a few commonly overlooked positions within a company can be great assets to your brand.
Director of First Impressions
Through technology and convenience, automated phone systems have been put in place. Due to economic hardships, staff has been down-sized. Yet the role of receptionist remains necessary. A customer or prospect has to come in contact with SOMEONE at your company initially – whether it’s over the phone or in person. Is that person representing your brand correctly?
Think about it. Does the person (or people) handling reception have the necessary information about your brand to deliver it correctly? Is their personality and demeanor representative of your brand attributes as well? If you’re selling energy drinks, you wouldn’t want your receptionist to be better suited to play a patient in an anti-depressant commercial. Attitude, tonality, posture, hospitality, etc. all come into play when a person comes through your front door or calls the front desk.
I’m not trying to say who should be hired for your receptionist position. My point is that the person in this role can be a huge asset to your brand as a first impression if you leverage it properly and arm them with the appropriate and adequate information and messaging.
Liaison to External Resources
How many different people come in the back door of your company for shipping and deliveries? From the overnight shipping person to suppliers and venders, stop to count them in a day’s or week’s time. Inevitably, those people are interacting with other people and companies who might need your products and services. Is the mailroom staff capable of communicating your brand attributes to your suppliers and vendors?
Often times, the mailroom staff has a personal connection with the people they interact with regularly – in essence, a relationship. A brand is the relationship you have with your customers and prospects. So, by informing your mailroom staff with the appropriate information about your brand, products and services, you’re helping them to extend your brand to your suppliers and vendors. Potentially, helping keep you top-of-mind with them should an opportunity arise.
Department of Internal Morale
Whether your HR department consists of one person or an entire staff, it should be looked upon as your brand amplifier. Communication, attitude, delivery, etc. are all funneled through the HR department to the rest of the company.
It seems all to often, HR is left on their own to communicate to employees. Internal communication might be at the mercy of someone who is deemed the expert in Microsoft Word, OR it’s left on the back burner of the in-house marketing department behind client work. But how do the materials and correspondence look compared to your external communication? I’m not saying HR should be producing four-color, glossy brochures, but if it’s not upholding the brand standards, there is a breakdown in the consistency. What example does that send to employees about the overall brand of your company? This is where our favorite saying, “a brand is built from the top down, and the inside out” comes into play. If brand communication is not delivered consistently and at an appropriate level of sophistication from the decision-makers and brand champions throughout the organization, chances are your brand message and image is being compromised as it reaches the outside world.
How tech-savvy is your company? Is communication delivered via an intranet? Are you using that intranet to it’s full potential? Smaller companies don’t necessarily need an intranet, that’s true. It’s just as easy to communicate at the lunch table or across the hall. However, for companies of a larger size and/or with multiple offices, an intranet can play a huge role for internal brand and morale building – not to mention efficiency and consistency for internal communications.
CBO (Chief Brand Officer)
As a company owner, president, department head or brand champion, part of effective leadership is rallying the troops around initiatives and the brand itself. By arming them with the proper information, messages and consistency, they too, can become brand champions to their respective external points of contact. Sometimes we are too close to see potential opportunities within our own organization. Step out of your shoes, take an outsider’s perspective at your company, and try to identify some new brand-related titles for members of your team. When your staff is on-brand, the communication to external touchpoints should come fluently and naturally – making it genuine and more effective.
The underlying point to this is to provide yet another cost-effective way to increase brand awareness for your organization. Through our years of expertise, Acceler8 Creative can help you find new, efficient and effective ways to tell your story and communicate your brand to your customers and prospects.
Visit Acceler8 Creative’s website.
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