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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Brand Harmony

I am truly enjoying Brand Harmony by Steve Yastrow. The author's primary point is that "brand" is defined by the granular, individual experiences between the business and its individual customers, not brute-force advertising and expensive public relations campaigns.
The irony is that many construction companies with the best brands don't even know they have a 'brand'. They simply treat their clients, suppliers, and community so well that they attract, retain, and obtain repeat business without fighting for it -- it seems to come naturally. I think an example of one business with an obviously successful brand is Reid and Deleye in Courtland,ON.
Now here is an interesting example of how we deliver extra value to an already-successful brand. I'm now tracking about two to three click-throughs a week from Google searches with the name "Reid and Deleye" to our blog and my posting about the business and the advertising feature we published earlier this year. Our posting is on Google's first page, a few spots below, rightfully, Reid and Deleye's own website. So, in effect, our publicity is supporting Reid and Deleye's brand and we are delivering value that transcends the original advertising feature by an order of magnitude.
But wait . . . this publicity only happened because I truly formed a strong positive impression about this business. My sales team will rag me: "Why don't you do the same for our other advertisers?" and in part they will be right -- many if not all of our clients are worthy businesses who deserve their moment in the spotlight. But if we are going in that direction, I'll have to open this blog to our editor, salespeople, and others with more direct relationships with individual clients -- or prospective clients will need to call me and say "can you (Mark) write the feature yourself." That is certainly going to create some interesting business challenges for me going forward.
The point is that branding these days is an individual, client-centric thing -- it is not some "marketing department" stuff, it is the sum total of interactions between the business and its clients. Get it right, and it will seem that marketing in the conventional sense is unnecessary; get it really right, and you'll have an amazingly profitable business with a great future.
Remember, your customers come first, and you earn their respect by delivering your service and product to a level that is both beyond reproach in integrity, and is a pleasure emotionally. If I were a general contractor wondering why my business isn't doing so well, I'd look to improve with examples like Reid and Deleye, and I hope my sales and editorial team will share similar stories of businesses which excite them in the months ahead.
Thanks to Sonny Lykos for referencing this book to me.


Sonny Lykos said...

“The point is that branding these days is an individual, client-centric thing -- it is not some "marketing department" stuff, it is the sum total of interactions between the business and its clients”.

And what I call the strongest foundation in the world - what an inverted pyramid rests upon. For these highly successful companies, it’s the founder of the business, or rather his character, personality, and the culture he creates around him, like an aura.

That aura is the foundation from which the company grows and spreads during it’s growth. And that aura is infectious only to others with the same philosophy. And then they in turn, also attract other like minded people as the company grows.

It is the perfect example of, and defines the term, “Brand Harmony.” Hard to create such a business. Harder yet to maintain the reasons for it’s success. For these company’s staff, it does, as you surmised, “comes naturally”.

Unknown said...

I whole-heartedly agree with Sonny that a company's brand relies heavily on a customer's experience and perception of the firm that built their building.

As a Marketing Manager for a major commercial construction company in the United States, I also believe that it is our duty to capture those moments and share them with our other clients, potential clients and the industry as a whole.

Having worked for two major firms in the industry, there is no doubt in my mind that a company's culture and environment can affect its success, however culture is not a tangible thing.

A firm's culture must be communicated through its stories, symbols and ideals...and in most cases you need a talented business development or marketing individual that is passionate about the building industry and their respective firm to do that "marketing department stuff".

Construction Marketing Ideas said...

Both Sonny and Dana make excellent points here. The challenge for a marketing department in implemenenting processes that lead to Brand Harmony is that the company's leadership and front line employees in different areas of the business must also buy into the process. When great marketing campaigns are disasociated from the business operations, problems arise; when the marketing department contributes its expertise to the process -- and is recognized properly for its role -- then the business is healthy and harmony is achieved, I think.