What a ‘Brand’ Is and 3 Reasons to Care – Now.

One of my favorite homebuilders got a new logo passed down from corporate recently. When proudly asked by the CEO if they liked the “new brand” – they answered yes. No deeper than that. 

The slightly depressing reality behind this common story is that what could have been an amazing differentiation for a builder – won’t be.  (Indeed, we are in a time when those in the building industry and beyond need to not miss a step, yet many of the steps needed today -never even enter the picture.)  So…let’s start with…

what is a ‘brand’?

A Brand – is what people perceive about a product or a company.  It’s everything that’s been heard, seen…felt about it.  It’s your reputation from yesterday &  today. To really get this – a favorite quote:

If you’re not metaphorically “standing in front of your audience” with promotion and people understand, like and/or talk about you positively – that’s worth something to your bottom-line.  It’s known as positive brand equity.

However- if when you leave the room, the real stories come out and you’re basically looking like a jerk – well no logo is getting you out of that.

3 reasons to care about ‘brand’ – today

Some of you may consider this question a “no-brainer”.  Still, Builders, Developers and other companies with millions of dollars in assets go no deeper than a logo, graphic continuity and maybe a surface competitive positioning when considering their brand.  3 reasons to care about your  “brand” now:

#1  Your Real Brand Can Move Faster Than Ever Before in History

Social media has lifted back the curtain on companies and transparency to the public continues to increase.

It used to be that a problem in the sales office- never got past our 10 closest friends. Now we go to our car – briefly “Like” the brand on Facebook and if possible “briefly” post to their wall telling their whole following that they suck. Then onto our wall to tell our 400 friends about it and for good measure we  jump onto twitter to yell at them again. This takes us all of 4 minutes. Then we start to calm down,  while corporate scrambles to get us to chat privately – or ignores us.

That said,  social media also allows brands an interactive voice to build relationships like never before.  Here when a “problem” arises, you think “Wow that’s not what ____ is about.”  and you get in touch to let them know what’s going on. The heat is lessened in the situation. Sure you’re still pissed, but hopefully the relationship is deeper than just that one salesperson / customer service agent / superintendent.

Bottom-line: Social media communicates your brand in a new, more personal way and can spread directly to your target customer faster than ever before. 

#2. Organizational Effectiveness.

Last week, I read an article titled “The 10 Most Hated Jobs” – 2 of them were in marketing.

“2 –  Director of Sales and Marketing – … The majority who responded negatively cited a lack of direction from upper management and an absence of room for growth as the main sources of their ire.

10 –  Marketing Manager –  respondents in this position most often cited a lack of direction as the primary reason for job dissatisfaction. The most optimistic respondent described it as “tolerable,” and gave it the faintest praise possible by saying, “It’s a job.” (In this labor market, that’s not such a bad thing.)

These are the folks primarily focused on building brand equity and positive momentum for sales…and their biggest complaint is Lack of Direction. [sigh]

Here’s the question – “How can employees build relationships and demonstrate what their company/community/product brand is about – if no one ever clearly told them what it was about?”

People will try. They will interpret as best they can, but with no framework to refer to, the experience provided will vary for customers. The brand perception is muddled and not worth mentioning.

Bottom-line: It takes an intentional team approach to build a remarkable brand. 

#3.  Positive Brand Equity is Valuable.

Years ago a gentleman I worked for who is rightfully considered a leader in the community development industry told me you couldn’t build brand equity. It happened naturally – it was earned.

Today, with transparency at an all-time high – if you set your brand equity goals with your team; perform for customers consistently to meet that goal, and openly communicate the real experience as the social space allows like never before– you can  build positive brand equity. It will be rightfully earned by the team, and not just a natural occurrence.

Become a truly remarkable brand and the value would be: a predisposition for people to consider your product/service/(–approval); a faster sales process; higher referral rate;  lower marketing cost per sale (aka higher ROI) ; competitive differentiation; higher product value. It depends on the team.

Bottom-line:  Companies can intentionally build positive brand equity & it’s worth it. 

——————-

KEY TAKE-AWAY:  When you walk out of the room – what do you want people to say? 

At HM-2, we help companies and planned communities clearly define their Brand, engage their teams and intentionally build valuable brand equity. It’s a journey worth taking to get ahead of competitors and excel with customers.

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