Branding for Construction in a Connected, Social World

Guest post by Sasha Dlinni.

Having a successful brand, whether you’re a small subcontractor or a large multidisciplinary practice, can make a huge difference when it comes to winning those bids. Combined with strategic differentiation from your competitors, an investment in your brand can reap continuous rewards on several levels.

First Impressions as a Point of Differentiation

Brand recognition can be the first step in securing a meeting, and most people can probably relate to this firsthand: say several of your neighbors are doing some basic renovation, and you decide to do the same. A personal recommendation is something we all hope for, but when that’s not available, how do you make your decision? Are you likely to go with the man with the white van working with a rag tag crew? Or with the guy whose company name (i.e., brand!) appears in a thought-out logo on the van and on the matching outfits of his team? In a world where everyone has a Facebook profile and a Twitter feed, will you select the guy whose online presence consists of poor phone camera shots of his dog or who lays out a portfolio of his work and testimonials from previous clients? Check out SA Equipment as an example of how to do it right.

Branding is a Critical Influence on Pricing

Now let’s say both of these contractors find out about your plans and call with a quote. This is where investment in branding can start to really pay off. If the second contractor sends you a quote that’s higher than the first, would he be out of the running? What if the first contractor’s quote is higher—would you still consider him?

Embracing Change

There’s a good chance you are reading this on a smartphone or tablet. You’ve probably heard of the shift to mobile. This is not some esoteric projection of the future: it’s happening. Now. How does your brand embrace the mobile, socially connected future? Is your website easy to use on a smartphone? Are you engaging people via social media? If you aren’t, there’s no better time than now to start. And if you needed any more impetus to get active, you’re competitors are probably already doing it.

Creating a Virtuous Circle

But branding plays a bigger role than simply getting the client to pick up the phone: once your brand is associated with a particular set of skills, your team will be considered experts in the field, and with a little extra push this can lead to regular participation in the trade discussions related to your field. This means appearances at association meetings, guest articles in industry publications, quotes in regular media, and consultations on projects you don’t necessarily end up working on. Read: entirely free advertising. Each time your brand and your experts appear elsewhere, you strengthen your image, projecting competence and expertise—and leaving the competition driving the white van.

It Must Be Genuine

Of course, sticking a logo on your work vehicles and business cards—whitewashing—will not be enough. Building a brand means starting with a strong foundation that shows clients your professionalism from start to finish: from that first meeting all the way through final deliveries of services, a company conscious of its brand makes it easy to see as one that delivers a consistent, reliable product. And that will go a long way in any industry—but particularly in construction, where foundations are everything.

Sasha Dlinni writes about trends in architecture and travel. He now resides in beautiful Portugal, where he enjoys the relaxed lifestyle but misses the pizza of his home city, New York.