By Katie Mientka

Who am I? No, we are not about to wax philosophical about the meaning of life and our place in it… but we are going to talk about the meaning of brand identity and our place in the consciousness (and wallets) of consumers. In a world where they are deluged in choices, you need to stand out as the design or construction solution. Personalizing your brand puts a “face” to your company – and it needs to be one that customers can trust.

What Is Brand Identity?

It’s you. It is what makes you recognizable to leads, prospects, and customers, and which allows them to associate your brand with your service/product. Your brand identity holds the key to forging a connection between your company and your customers.

This connection is vital; it:

  • Conveys your brand’s personality and values
  • Shapes consumers’ perceptions of you
  • Makes a promise of quality, service, and reliability
  • Builds trust and loyalty with customers/clients
  • Differentiates your business from the crowd
  • Influences purchase decisions

This doesn’t just happen. When businesses are proactive, they take the time to strategically craft a compelling brand identity. If they don’t? Well, then, consumers will fill in the blanks themselves and create your identity for you. You want to be the one guiding the narrative, the one telling the story. And when you do it well, consumers are eager to listen.

Personalizing Your Brand: 5 Tips to Get You Started

This is where our existential question comes into play: who am I? The first step in catching the attention of consumers, and retaining current customers, is to clarify why you are different from competitors. Who are you? And to be blunt, what’s so special about you?

Let’s say you sell and install beautiful, safe, efficient, high-performance windows and doors. There are a dozen other companies in your area promising the same products/service to consumers. Why should they choose you?

Because they know you. Because they trust you. Because you have already provided them with information and education through your website. Because you helped their neighbor or best friend with a project, and they had a great experience. Because you offer something else, something different, something better than the others. And because you have a strong, personalized brand that resonates with them.

Now, to get there:

1. Get Nice and Clear

Start by reviewing your mission and vision statements and ask:

  • Why do you do what you do?
  • Why did you start this business, and why do you continue on?
  • What’s driving you?
  • What beliefs and values form the foundation of your business?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • What makes you special?

While we listed them in bullet form, it is worth spending time answering these core brand questions.

2. Be Consistent

Have you ever walked into an Apple Store? You could be in Montreal, Tokyo, or Indianapolis, and yet, you know you’re in an Apple Store. The brand identity is so consistent and so cohesive that there is no mistaking it. This is how your own brand identity should be across all touchpoints, from your website to your showroom to the signage on the trucks carrying your crew to jobs.

Inconsistent branding elements, such as your language, tone, colors, fonts, and, less tangibly, your values, makes it difficult for consumers to recognize or remember you. It can also create a discordant experience that erodes their trust in you. It takes between five and seven impressions for people to remember your brand. If you show them a different “you” on each impression, you won’t grab them.

3. Allow Yourself to Be Human

No surprise that a key to personalizing your brand is being human. Consumers don’t want to do business with a faceless company. They want to deal with real people; this is particularly true in the construction and design business because they must place an enormous amount of trust in you. Make sure your brand is both human and approachable. For example, if you have a blog on your website (and you should!), “speak” to prospects and customers as one real person to another.

4. Infuse Personality into Your Brand

If your brand were a person, what sort of person would it be? What type of personality would it have? Would it be steadfast and reliable, like your favorite neighbor who always has the tool you need? Would it be fun and fresh, like a friend who’s always ready for an adventure? Would it be glamorous and sophisticated? Rugged and refreshing? Competent and practical?

Professionalism is always front and center, but let some personality shine through in your branding and in your marketing assets (e.g. website, blog, social media profiles, etc.). Take Geico as an example. This company is renowned for its funny (often absurd) marketing and brand identity. Their 75+ year track record and terrific customer satisfaction score, though, ensures consumers take them seriously as an insurance solution. Personality and professionalism can get along quite nicely!

5. Prioritize Transparency

Resolve to be an open book to consumers. You may be dealing with customers who have lived through design and construction “horror stories.” Or they may be fearful that the project budget will explode because of constant change orders or less-than-savory practices. They may just be hesitant to entrust their homes to someone else. When you operate with transparency, you build trust.

Imagine that you are rewiring an older home and the current owner doesn’t know when it was last updated. You say, “Easy! We do this all the time.” It reassures the customer, and it gets you the business. But you know that there’s no telling what’s behind those walls. You could find knob-and-tube. You could find Thomas Edison tinkering around in there. Far better is to explain that there could be hidden surprises and then detail a plan for how you will address them. Transparency is ultimately the only way you are going to win business in the long run.