By Steve Marsh
In less than 10 seconds, most consumers will determine if your website or advertisement deserves their precious time.
If you can’t keep their attention for longer than that, all the money you invested to attract them is completely wasted. What must you do to get your target consumers to stay and look further into your company?
Often overlooked by owners is their brand. The company brand is made up of the characteristics consumers see that identify and differentiate your company from your competitors. It is a gut-level message signaling whether or not they are in the right place.
Branding, when done well, sends a powerful welcome message to consumers even before they read the first word of marketing copy. However, when branding is done poorly, consumers sense confusion and inconsistency. The ensuing doubt results in them continuing their search somewhere else.
What is branding?
The primary elements making up a brand are the company name, logo, tag line, and colors. These brand elements allow customers to remember who you are and how you differ from other companies.
An effective brand sends a clear and consistent message to the target consumer that the company is ideally suited to meet their needs.
Choose your target market
There are two distinct residential consumer markets. Effective marketing can only appeal to one of these markets at a time since the needs of each are completely different. The first consumer group hires home service companies on a regular basis, while the second hires service companies only on rare occasions. The first group is generally willing to pay a higher rate in exchange for greater service and professionalism, while the second is usually looking for the most quality and service they can get for the least amount of money.
Not recognizing this difference in consumer markets is the most common reason for getting poor marketing results. Elements of your brand can be altered to appeal to the group you seek. In a future article, I will go into far more depth on the different benefits each of these groups are looking for, along with the different message each group wants to hear.
Regardless of which target market you seek, the more professional looking and consistent your branding message is, the more valuable your company will look when compared to competitors. Just as much attention goes into branding a successful fast-food restaurant as an equally popular high-end dining establishment.
Let’s look at some of the issues related to the primary elements that make up the company brand.
Most companies already have their name established, so I am not suggesting changing it, but here are some considerations if the name is still flexible. Use names that are easy to pronounce and spell. It helps if the name gives some indication of the type of service you offer. When appealing to the first consumer group of repeating clients, it is beneficial to have the name reflect the quality of experience they will have using your company. Utilize words such as “Premiere,” “Excellence,” “Prestige,” “Quality,” or “Professional.” The name elements that best appeal to the second consumer group focus on the cleaning result and low price such as “Supreme Cleaning,” “Mr. Clean,” “Budget Cleaning,” or “Affordable.”
Well-crafted logos can dramatically increase the recognition and memorability of a company. It is easy to get ideas for improving a logo by searching the internet to see what others have done for their logos. Please respect their copyrights. Having a professional design your logo generally is a good investment.
You will want multiple format options to allow flexibility in use of your logo. Your name and logo will need to fit well on a variety of media, ranging from a webpage to the side of a van, from a Yelp profile to a business card. There are times you must fill a square space with your logo and other occasions when a second version is needed to fill a horizontal rectangle area.
Taglines are often overlooked as a valuable marketing tool. A tagline is a phrase that supports your company brand. They serve as an additional way to clarify who your company is designed to service. Examples include BMW: “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” or Verizon: “Can You Hear Me Now? Good.”
Just as the words used in the company name, customer experience should be emphasized in taglines for the first consumer group, while cleaning results and low-cost should be highlighted with the second group.
The brand colors you choose can have a bigger impact than most may think. The wrong choice can give your company a look of being dated or too masculine. One of the best tips I received about choosing company colors was to look at the colors used in current home design and women’s magazine covers. All you have to do is Google Better Homes and Gardens or O, The Oprah Magazine and click on the “images” tab at the top of the search results page. This will reveal photos of those recent magazine covers. Four to five colors will dramatically jump out as commonly used. These are the colors that are trending and will be popular for years.
Confirm your branding choices
Most home service company owners are not themselves part of their own target consumer market. It is, therefore, critical to let people that represent your target market give ultimate approval of your branding choices.
I suggest showing examples of at least two other good brands along with yours to people you consider ideal consumers. Tell them you are doing a market survey and ask them to choose the company brand they would most likely call first. Whichever one they select, ask them to mention one of the things that motivated their choice. Listen to the answers! If your brand is not being regularly selected, you need to continue working on it.
Branding is important
Carefully evaluate your company brand. Does it attract the type of consumers you want? Is your brand being consistently applied throughout your entire company?
Remember that consumers only give you seconds to convince them that your company is worth considering. Your brand should help signal which target market you are most suited for. Spending a little time improving the impact of your brand can powerfully increase the effectiveness of your advertising.
Steve Marsh is a 40-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an instructor, and a Senior Carpet Inspector. He helps home-service companies quickly establish profitable clienteles and then progress to serving higher-quality customers. To help companies achieve these goals, he created the step-by-step programs Single Truck Success and Be Competition Free. For more information, visit www.professional-carpet-cleaning-service.com.