"Branding" is defined, by me, as the 'culture'. A culture can be defined by responding to the following statement: "People like us stand for...".
You see, the direct marketer is focused on metrics. It's all about data. Most of the focus is on selling products and services to the masses - they look for the largest audience because they figure it shows the most promise. And completely ignoring this facet is irresponsible - but it shouldn't be the main driver of growth.
"A certain percentage of this audience will buy, then we can recoup the cost of the ad. When we have a positive return, we scale!"
Branding goes beyond that. It's the feelings created within a select audience.
It's the impression we leave them with - the impression that encourages them to talk about our products and services with their friends, family, and associations.
If the statement goes: "People like us stand for...", we need to identify what that is.
I, as a construction company, stand for excellence and dependability.
Of course, we stand for much more and value much more than just these 2, but in order to simplify this exercise, we make note of the two biggest, most important ones.
ChoosING a specific audience:
Selling to everyone is selling to no one. The simple fact is that we can reach anyone nowadays, so if we can choose, we should. Instead of searching for the largest group, where all your competitors are focusing their efforts, I'll pick the minimum viable audience.
In this example, we'll be serving middle-aged couples approaching retirement, who want a simple but elegant home they plan on remaining in until the end - no retirement residence for them!
The change we seek to make:
As a construction company in North America, we're aware of the difference in "the way things are done", compared to Europe and Asia. Where European construction may be more about quality than speed, and Asian construction is more about simplicity and effectiveness, North America seems to be obsessed with speed and quantity above all else.
We seek to inject a need for quality, beauty, richness, and dependability in everything we do - in life just as in business. We want to secretly help people realize that we don't have to settle, and accept "that's just the way we do things around here".
OUR audience's worldview:
The couple in question is a few years away from retirement and has been giving evermore thought to life after work. They're not interested in "catching up" on things they haven't had a chance to do throughout their younger years... Retirement, for them, is not a race to complete a bucket list - it's time freedom to go 'full-time' into what makes them happiest.
Their dream is to contribute to others (friends, family, organizations) in a way they never had a chance to because life was too time-consuming during the working years.
They want to update their home to promote their new lifestyle. They want to modernize it, open it up, give it a splash of colour. They want to liven the place up! A refresh. They want their home to be efficient, but not smart. They want the arrangement to allow them to be as effective as possible in whatever activity they undertake. They want a clean, simple, modern feel, and it has to be built to represent excellence - just like them.
They believe in doing things right the first time, even if it takes a bit longer to accomplish. They believe patience is a virtue. They believe in contributing to others. They believe life is what you make it... so they choose happiness.
Now that we've painted a good picture of WHO we seek to serve and their worldviews, we'll need to figure out what kind of problem(s) they're having and offer a solution.
In this example, our couple is wary of most construction companies since they mostly cater to the 'better, faster, cheaper' North American model than their own.
They want to find someone who shares their vision of a completed project.
As we've stated before, solutions don't need to be extravagant - only effective.
In this case, as the construction company, I'd start by offering a quote, but with a twist. I'd make sure to:
Show up. Don't cancel or reschedule
Show up on time, perhaps even a few minutes before the scheduled time
Have a GPS/tracking system in the company vehicle (similar to Uber) so the prospect can see where we are
When arriving on-site, I'd ensure the vehicle is clean, and I'd come equipped with an album of previous jobs that display excellence, quality, and range of skills. The nostalgia of a physical booklet speaks to our prospect's craving for simplicity and effectiveness.
To take it one step further, before I showed them the album, I'd hand them a list of other construction companies in town, should they feel we're not a good fit. I'd invite them to call anyone if they feel we're not on the same page. I'd demonstrate my genuine will to serve.
The 'network effect' is created whenever friends, family, and neighbours come over, when passerby's see the work being done on the home, and when our couple shares their project.
While I'm not a construction company owner, I'm only assuming all the above is possible.
Also, this is just one of many possibilities.
If this is something you might be interested in implementing, simply leave a comment below or contact me.