Starting from scratch can mean starting with nothing, or it can mean going back to the beginning and doing something over again. Owners that brand their companies, tend to enjoy more success. Have you branded your company? Do you need to go back to the beginning and start over?

We hear the term brand or branding bandied about quite a lot, but what does it really mean? Wikipedia defines a brand as “an intangible asset—is often the most valuable asset of a corporation.” A brand is also, what your business stands for, what your customers come to know you by, and it’s a valuable tool for your company.

Whose brand do you promote? Do you promote your own brand or someone else’s brand? It doesn’t matter if you have a new business or if you have a business that has been around for years. If you want to grow your business, you will want to promote your own brand. Why spend time and money promoting a manufacturer‘s brand? If you switch to another manufacturer’s products, you lose recognition and the goodwill that you built up promoting something that you don’t own.

So how do you build a brand? A brand has several components that we must examine. I like to start with your strengths. What are your core competencies? Focus on what you’re good at doing and what is the most profitable for you. If both of these are the same, you are in good standing. If not, focus on what generates the most amount of profit and then grow the other areas over time.

Start with the reason that you started your business. Ask yourself, “Why do people buy from us?” What do you do better than your nearest competitor does? What makes your company unique? Customers buy from your business because of a number of factors including your quality, your reputation, and your uniqueness. They can’t find that same quality from another source.

Think about the image you want to project. In other words, what do you want customers to think about when they hear your name? This is your brand image. It’s something to keep in mind when you design your brand creative and collateral materials, such as logos, signage, truck wraps, business cards, brochures, and websites. You want to project professionalism, quality, and expertise.

How do you want customers to describe your business? Consider the words that you would like people to say when they talk about your company on the Internet and to friends and family. You can test this by asking your team to tell you what they think about when they think of your company. Ask them to give you two or three words that describe your company. Are you friendly, efficient, proficient, experts, thought leaders, the go-to company for whatever you do? Write them down and see if these are the terms that you want customers to use when they describe your company. If they are the words that you want customers to use, incorporate them into your marketing creative and branding. If they aren’t the words that you want to hear, then you have to start by changing the internal image of the company to make it fit with your vision.

Consider what customers see when your trucks or vehicles roll down the road. Do they project the image that you want your customers to see? Are they clean and undamaged, do you use a consistent color pallet that runs throughout your company, your website, and your marketing materials? Consistency is the key to building a great long lasting brand. You will grow tired of your visual imagery long before your customers grow tired of looking at it. Think of Coca Cola and how consistent its logo and brand has been over time. The company made minor tweaks and adjustments to the font but it remains consistent over the long hall. If you look at the logo from the early 1900’s you will see that it has changed, but it hasn’t changed that much.

As with any marketing effort, nothing happens immediately.  Marketing focus is long-term; it’s cumulative and builds year by year. Start with a solid well thought out foundation and build on that. Make sure your creative designs carry throughout all aspects of your marketing. Consistency is the key to both branding and any marketing effort.

My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of my new book, Navigating the Marketing Maze, click here. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, or help with marketing services, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, and social media strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by helping HVAC dealers more effectively market their businesses without breaking their budgets. Contact him at 260-338-4554, andy@fracicaenterprises.com or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.