Brand Constructor Blog
Image from www.bigisthenewsmall.com
A few weeks ago Geoff Coats with Line 58 presented at the SMPS Southeast Louisiana‘s Annual Marketing Workshop about what kills a design project / what causes friction between your internal marketing team and the consulting marketing & design firm that you hired. I couldn’t wait to see it because Geoff & I see eye-to-eye on many things professionally and this is obviously an issue for every marketing & design firm. (Although on paper, Geoff’s firm is a competitor, our firms have different artistic styles, his firm is more architectural and we obviously focus on construction, we respect each firm’s work, and we’ve become friends over the years.)
The presentation included Chaos, Unclear Objectives, New Players & Gatekeepers, and Micromanaging as things that kill creative projects, but the two that really resonated with me are things our team has been trying to overcome for years, but aggressively so lately. They include:
- Lack of Momentum – When a new client and/or project, our entire team lights up like a kid on Christmas morning. We’re excited about the potential of the project, getting to know that client, and pushing ourselves further. That excitement continues until a client throws us a road block. The road block is the project dies off and is not a priority any more. The once eager creative team now sits and waits for the opportunity to arise again, but the more time passes the less excitement is there. Creatives can handle long-term projects that have smaller benchmarks, but they can not thrive when a project goes dormant for months or years.
Even small things like sending content in bits & pieces over weeks and expecting a sample with every addition just wears on the team and is inefficient because it requires 15 minutes here and there instead of a excited chunk of time, not to mention all the rework that happens are the content changes.
- Lack of Trust - You hired us for a reason, trust us. But it goes much further than that to the extent that my team is trying removing the wall between client & vendor. At the beginning of 2014, we started using the term “Core Partner” to describe what most would consider a “Client”. Clients keep us in a box, don’t let us see their secrets (aka real problems), and are always territorial. We do our best work when we can get to the root of the problems, are pushed to maximize our expertise and skills, and are not confined to a rigid expectation of a narrow scope. When our Core Partners let us in by tearing down that wall, they get much more than scoped and their vulnerability allows us to make real change and be honest with them, even if it may hurt at first.
Geoff told the audience a secret that could hurt all creatives, but it will make creatives much happier too. A creative person will work hundreds of hours on their own time on a twenty hour project if they are passionate and excited about it. Keeping the momentum going and trusting your marketing and creative partner will ensure you get the most out of them and way more than your contract promised.
From our friends at George Rodrigue Studios who released the first posthumous print “Mardi Gras 2014″ designed by George Rodrigue, which celebrates Carnival with his iconic Blue Dog. Our parent company, Design the Planet, was fortunate to work with George and his son, Jacques, last year to redesign georgerodrigue.com.
Last week’s blog post on a brand’s culture saving legal fees hit home with some of you based on emails & comments I received via social media. I thought we should continue this conversation and review the culture when it’s built by a team and ways to build that unity.
When construction companies are small, they definitely take on the personality of the owner. Whether it be tough and steadfast or slow and analytical, the company is a reflection of the owner. As the company grows, the personality shares the personality of the key players and other principals. This personality should attract a common type of employee and the company’s culture will evolve from this personality and the employees actions. A brand needs to be flexible and allow the employees, and sometimes the clients, to have a say in the culture.
Many companies will do a fundraiser because it affects one of their own including March of Dimes, breast cancer walks, or something related to a community. Even fun things like No-Shave November where men didn’t shave for the month of November to build awareness for men’s health causes. One of the most famous teams doing this included the Today Show men including Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Carson Daily, and Willie Geist. [Fun animated images of their beards growing.]
Years ago, when we had a team mostly of guys, we have 4 of them participating in Moustache May. While this one didn’t have the social awareness cause behind it, it was a lot of fun for the team and it brought all of us closer together. It also helped define our team as a loose, fun loving group that works hard and plays hard.
When companies show a different side of themselves and show that people come ahead of profits, it unites the employees and their families. Also, when employees get together with their families, there is a sense of a larger family; a family they do not want to leave. This unity increases employee retention, thus saving the company money.
Image from makeadifferencemakealiving.com
I was at a Franchise Expo earlier today helping out our parent company, Design the Planet, that specializes in franchise marketing. During the event, they had a few educational sessions and a speaker said that in his company’s 18 years of franchising, they’ve never had a legal case with their franchisees. While construction isn’t the same as franchising, his reason why does cross over to construction – culture.
He said his company’s culture has prevented them from going to court with their franchisees. He added that they do not call the home office “Corporate”, instead they call it the “Service Center”. What a difference this makes in how you interact with your customers.
Here at Brand Constructors as well as Design the Planet, we do not have clients, we have core partners. Why the change in terms? We find when there is a client/vendor relationship, there is a wall separating us from them. We want to get down to the core of our client’s businesses and their challenges so we can properly help them. We’ll never be able to fully help a construction company if they don’t trust us with their challenges and dirty laundry (trust me, we’ve seen it before)3. Instead of the us vs. them mentality, we have a team mentality.
It sounds simple on paper, but it can be difficult to implement and live every day. Telling a prospective core partner about our philosophy about this up front can be a make or break for a deal. In most cases though, it weeds out the bad clients and leaves us with great core partners.
What is your company’s culture like? Does your culture extend to your clients, subs, and suppliers?
Yesterday a friend that does social media professionally posed a question on Facebook about a recent conversation with a company’s support and a debate ensued in the comments about whether it was proper or not.
This is how her chat with Abercrombie started:
The comments varied from liking it, hating it, and others said it is unprofessional. My social media professional friend said it was surprising as the “Mom” since she isn’t the target audience. As a brand marketer, I said it was “On brand” for their target audience (teenagers) and that I would encourage it.
This reminded me of how Woot writes their job descriptions (www.woot.com/jobs). The description is fun and if you like it, you’d probably like working at Woot. If you hate their job descriptions, you wouldn’t like working there. This is part of your brand where you prequalify people to buy from you and to work for you based on your brand personality and language.
I don’t think Abercrombie should say, “Hello, Sir or Madam. How many I assist you on this fine day?” Clients want to engage with your company and have a relationship. They don’t want a cold shoulder full of corporate speak and manners unless that is your market.
How do you talk to your clients? What does your brand call for – a more casual, personal style or a more formal style?
Guest post by Sasha Dlinni.
Building and growing a brand name has become an integral part for contractors large and small, for one simple reason: it gets them work. From the recognition a successful brand name brings during the tender process, to the streamlining of communications with the rest of the industry and your clients, a better brand is a smart investment. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are five ways any contractor can build a stronger brand image.
It may sound obvious, but experience shows that many construction and engineering firms don’t seem to realize that to have your brand recognized, people have to know your brand. Simple things, like a uniform logo across all paperwork, websites, equipment, and your employees’ work clothes, can go a long way to reinforce not only the name itself, but the idea of an efficient, predictable business.
Become associated with other successful brands, particularly ones with an exposure that spans the entire industry. So for example, this can be as simple as partnering with competitors in events that build the communities you work in or building your brand by tying up with a recruitment website, such as Randstad CPE, to drive brand awareness among industry movers. The possibilities are endless.
Even on a limited budget, it’s possible to have your company’s name associated with industry events. In essence, becoming a sponsor means your brand will be linked with the conversations happening in the industry. Whether you help pay rent a space, or barter your goods and services to participate, there are several ways to get involved and promote your company to the rest of the industry and potential clients.
Why stop at merely sponsoring events? Determine the expertise of your staff and have them participate in industry events as keynote speakers. It will help them develop professionally, reveal opportunities otherwise unavailable, and present an image of your company as a leader in the field.
Reporters are always looking for sources. Let the local news outlets, the general media, and B2B publications know that you have staff capable of contributing to reporting on the construction industry. It takes a few minutes to scan the masthead and contact the appropriate reporters or editors, and most of the time they will be grateful for the help. Use free services such as the highly recommended HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to get ahead of your competition.
Sasha is a writer from NYC who is now based in Portugal where he teaches English and is gradually adapting to the more relaxed pace of life.
We’ve reviewed the websites for every construction company in ENR’s Top 400 Contractors once again and here are the biggest mistakes construction companies make:
Image from ja-mlodapolka.blog.pl
Can’t edit their website - today, the web is real time and if your latest news item or project is 3 years old, it makes your prospective customer think you’re not working or too busy to work for them. Your marketing team needs access to update the website today, not wait a week or more for a web company to make an update.
- Using Flash - Flash is an animated movie on your website. Over 150 construction companies still use it on their website. This is horrible because it’s not searchable by Google and it’s extremely difficult and costly to update, even for web companies.
- Not memorable – You will not sell a building or a road building project online, but you can be short listed online. Prospective clients (and employees) and looking at 10-15 websites looking for the right companies. Your website needs to be memorable and differentiate your company from the rest.
- Not telling your buyer what you do – Many construction companies have vague names like ABC or Professional Services. Even the word construction is too broad for buyers. Tell your prospects how you can help them.
- Forgetting your other audiences – Most construction websites are geared solely to prospective buyers. Don’t forgot about your your employees and prospective employees. The best potential employees are researching you more than you are researching them — don’t settle for mediocre employees.
- Not using their website as a tool - Your website is the best resource for communicating to your multiple audiences with news, emergency contact info, and for storing items such as HR forms. Imagine how many calls HR gets for a simple form from a company of 500 people – they have better things to do.
- No personality - Your website should look unique to your company, your brand personality, and your culture. We consider it a failure when you can replace your company logo with a competitor’s logo and it still works – that means its all generic.
- No contact info - I’m amazed how many times I need to call someone or send them something in the mail and I can’t find their contact info. Many companies have tried to get sneaking and require visitors to submit a form. I’ve even had times that I’m trying to find a construction company’s office, its not correct on my GPS and I can’t confirm the address or call them because its not on their website – imagine if I was a prospective client.
- Too much contact info - I promise, I’m not going back on my previous statement. Many companies are listing the entire executive team’s direct phone numbers and emails. They may have gatekeepers answering emails & calls, but this just opens your top people to numerous sales calls.
- No people – This is more of a pet peeve than a mistake, but when I go to a construction company’s website, I want to see people constructing. The finished building is great for the Project section. If all you have is completed project photos, you’ll look like a real estate company, not a construction company.
Did we miss any? If so, add it to the comments below. The biggest thing to remember is that your website is a tool for marketing and for communications. It should be regularly updated and it should match your brand’s personality and culture. You don’t want your website looking like every other construction company’s website.
Barriere Construction working on Gen. DeGaulle’s drainage.
Winning awards is great, but they do more than just stroke your ego. The obvious reasons are to build credibility for your company and to show your team that you appreciate their hard work. Most companies miss a great opportunity – to showcase your company’s specialities or unknown services.
If you have a niche market or service, awards are an amazing way to showcase them and add more distance between your company and everyone else. Also, if you’re know for one type of construction and you have a newer service or construction type that you want people to know about, awards can be that platform to tell everyone just how good you are at it.
For years, we’ve worked with Barriere Construction to develop the award submissions. Barriere is known as a dominant force in asphalt paving in Southeast Louisiana. They also do a lot of heavy civil construction and concrete paving. We’ve used awards to build this awareness and change the industry’s perception of the company. This also helps with prospective clients that doubt the company’s abilities because it shows Barriere can do award winning work for construction that is not just asphalt paving.
Do you use awards to change the perception of your company? What else do you use to build awareness and change perception?