Take a moment to think of some of your favorite companies. These are companies whose products and services you truly enjoy. Just the mention of their name elicits a response.
Personally, when I was asked to go through this brief exercise, Apple immediately jumped into my mind. So when I came across this Forbes story that reported Apple is the most-admired company globally, I was less than surprised.
Let’s go back in time, but just a bit. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there were a host of companies producing cellular phones as the product became more streamlined and popularized. Then, in 2007, Apple launched the iPhone. It changed the game forever.
Our clients are all residential contractors — small-business people, like you and me. When talking to them about their brand, it’s often difficult for them to wrap their heads around building something of their own into something like Apple and the iPhone. I get that. But the elements that made the iPhone successful are strategies that have long existed in the marketing world, as it pertains to branding. You can absolutely use them to enhance your marketability. Let’s explore them.
The Three Core Elements To A Successful Brand
1. You need a name that pops.
A memorable name can be a tremendous asset and multiply the effectiveness of your marketing. The name “iPhone” was developed, in part, because Apple wanted to highlight the individuality offered with the phone; the letter “i” helps illustrate this. It’s simple and concise, yet powerful.
In our business, we work with business owners who often attach their last names to their companies, like “Smith Heating & Cooling.” It’s not uncommon for us to recommend a name change, even if our client’s grandfather started the business. Unfortunately, if no one can remember your company’s name, what value does the name have? Your name should help sell you. It should be powerful, and it should be memorable.
Take, for example, a longtime client of ours: By the time he changed his company’s name, he already was the largest business of his kind in his market. Yet, our client took his last name off his business and rebranded as Service Legends. He wanted to communicate that his technicians deliver such exceptional service that you’ll never forget them; it’s legendary. His company has more than doubled in revenue since the change. It was a scary transition, but one that paid dividends.
2. You need a clean, attractive logo.
Apple has done an exceptional job owning its brand — from its well-designed logo to its use of the color white to its stylish, hip marketing across every medium. Apple screams cutting edge, new, exciting. Does your logo communicate the same with your customers?
In our business, we find a lot of business owners who haven’t touched their logos for 20 or 30 years. Or worse, they had a friend design it in Microsoft Paint. It’s full of squiggly lines; it’s hard to read, and truthfully, it’s an eyesore.
You should update your logo every few years. When you do so, hire a professional. A strong logo communicates professionalism. A slapped-together logo instantly makes consumers think twice about you. I know the conversations they’re having with themselves: “If they spent such little time on their logo, can I really trust the quality of their service?”
3. You need a unique selling proposition.
The last step in your brand analysis involves analyzing your competition, as well as the desires of your customers. What do your customers want more than anything else? And how do you deliver it to them differently than competing companies? Determine that, and you can find your unique selling proposition, or USP.
Our clients are residential service contractors. Unfortunately, in the plumbing industry, many homeowners associate plumbers with negative stereotypes, such as being dirty or sloppy. To combat those assumptions, I encourage clients to ask their plumbers to wear bright, white, pressed uniform shirts; slacks; and polished boots. Portraying an image that sets your brand apart in people’s minds catches attention and establishes your USP.
Having a strong USP is critical for any business, but even more so for small businesses. And if you’re a small business with a name and a logo that looks like everybody else’s in your product space, I implore you to take some serious time analyzing how you’re different from others. Then, find a way to communicate it in a USP. Your USP should be splashed across your website, advertisements and every other piece of media you produce.
Take the time and effort required to formulate a strong name, logo and USP. If your budget allows, you can also work with an outside agency. They can help you develop a brand that’s eye-catching, uniform and expresses to your customers how much value you provide.