Proposals: Use Your Brand or the Client’s Brand?


Recent strategy & redesign of a proposal for F.H. Myers Construction.

Deciding on how to position proposals for focus and emphasis is an age-old challenge in the A/E/C (Architecture/ Engineering/ Construction) industry. Marketing wants the prospective client to feel comfortable with your company’s team, talent, and tools and to know you are all about them.

So, you consider using the prospect’s branding and look-and-feel to communicate these prospect-focused marketing-centric attributes. On the other hand, you are in a time crunch to get the proposal completed and out to them by their deadline, so you need to use one of your recently submitted proposals that utilizes your company branding and look-and-feel. Using your branding would be much easier and faster, but you know this is supposed to be about the client rather than you. What should you do?

After working on hundreds of proposals and talking to dozens of construction buyers, our team follows this guideline – your proposal submittal needs your company’s branding to be most effective!

This answer might surprise you if you read my blog posted two weeks ago about the “Worst SOQ Ever”. In that posting, I discussed why an SOQ [and proposal submittal] should be client-focused. So, let me clarify this seemingly conflicting info. The look-and-feel of your proposal submittal should represent your brand and reflect your company’s differentiation, while the verbiage needs to be about and focused on the prospective client. In particular, you want to focus on the big picture of how you’re going to help make their project a success, not just on the nuts-and-bolts of the project. You want to help them fully understand how and why your team is the best possible choice to get them to the final product most efficiently and cost-effectively, and how easy it is to work with your company.

So why not brand your proposal exclusively to the client? Because you will not stand out from your competitors, you will miss the opportunity to capitalize on your brand advantage, and, most importantly, you will confuse the client. If they get 10-15 proposals that all look alike them, they will have an even more difficult time selecting the best team for the project. However, you can help achieve marketing’s goals and find a balance between spotlighting your branding while still being prospect-centric by incorporating the prospective’s clients logo, architectural renderings of the completed building, and other elements about the client along with your overall look-and-feel. (Be sure to double-check the client’s logo usage requirements, or possibly even ask their permission by requesting a high-resolution logo.) Also, by branding each and every proposal fully to the prospective client, your job of fulfilling submittal requests becomes and extremely hard one to tackle. You need to have a well-designed, well-thought-out template ready to go so you’re not starting from scratch each time you have less than two weeks to complete a proposal submittal.

How else do you incorporate your prospective clients’ brands into your proposals? Call or email us to discuss further.