I’ve spent a good part of my career developing and managing brands. I’ve seen the power of brand strength and what it can mean to the success (or failure) of a company. And I’ve seen big wins when companies have committed to building their brand so they are perceived as the product of choice or the company of choice, and therefore able to charge higher prices or capture greater marketshare in their markets. As the economy continues to be sluggish, and as consumers continue to be very conservative with their purchasing decisions, the decision to spend scarce resources on an energy efficiency project with your company may hinge on their perception of you and the strength of your brand in their mind.
To the lay person, “brand strength” may seem like an intangible that is tough to measure. While brand strength is an intangible, you should not for one minute underestimate its importance to your business and the fact that it’s the path to commanding a premium for your services. Consider the automobile industry as a prime example. For a number of years, Lexus was basically the same car as the Toyota Camry, but cost a heck of a lot more. The difference? Brand strength. The company built the perception among consumers that Lexus meant luxury, that it was a status symbol, that a consumer had “achieved something” simply by owning a Lexus as opposed to a Toyota. That’s an example of brand strength and its power to persuade.
The same can apply in our industry. Regardless of your position in the home performance space – whether your company began as an HVAC contractor that has embraced the home performance industry or you recently opened your doors as an “energy audit only” operation – the strength of your brand will be critical. It will be a major factor in how long you sustain success in your market, how much you can charge for your services and how well-defended you are against the competition that is bound to sprout up and challenge you if it hasn’t already.
A brand is only as strong as what people perceive it to be. Seems pretty obvious. But to influence the way people think about your company takes dedication and a commitment to regular, consistent communication. One direct mail postcard every six months or one billboard on one highway in your service area is not an effective means of building brand strength. When you commit to positioning your brand as a leader in your industry with appropriate messaging and a consistent, aggressive communications plan that delivers your brand message, then you’ll have a good chance of affecting the way your customers perceive you. Here are some communication tips and messages you can use as you build a brand that will thrive, even when you’re facing competition from seemingly every turn.
Building your brand is like building a house. Every communication piece, every job completed, every conversation your employees have with a prospect or a customer is a brick in building your “brand house”. Strong houses will be around much longer than weak ones. So will strong brands. Invest the time and energy into building a strong brand for your company, and you’ll be well-positioned for success for years to come.
If you’d like to talk about your strategy for building your brand, or have questions about any information I’ve shared in this article, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Warm Thoughts has been an invaluable partner, creating a fully integrated web and social media presence, and handling our brand design, print and email marketing, merger communications and overall growth strategy. I can’t say enough good things.”
– John Tolan, Sail Energy
I have been a Warm Thoughts Client for 20 years. They handle every aspect of our company’s marketing strategy – print, web, social media, vehicle design, advertising, direct mail. They have an unmatched knowledge of our business. They have a great team, and do a terrific job of bringing new ideas to our company, and executing for us. I would highly recommend Warm Thoughts to anyone in the heating oil, propane or HVAC business.”
– David O’Connell, Wilson Oil & Propane
Despite your great reputation, I still don’t think most people realize all the ways you can help them move their business forward. Your team has been a great asset to us.”
– Eric Schmider, Carroll Home Services
After we passed a state check off program, we needed a plan that would use the money wisely to grow gallons in the state. We interviewed several agencies, both national and local, before deciding on Warm Thoughts. We’ve been exceptionally impressed with their strategy, creative work, and client service, across a wide range of projects. In fact, I’d put it up against anything I’ve seen in this industry. The hardest thing to do when you spend money on marketing is to prove it made a difference. Warm Thoughts has made a difference for the dealers of North Carolina.”
– John Jessup, North Carolina Propane Gas Association
I think people look at your extensive experience, and mistakenly think it comes at the cost of being innovative and creative. Nothing could be further from the truth. You constantly bring new ideas and fresh creative promotion, and you understand the intersection between our customers, employees and our limited resources. Whenever I face a tough challenge, I feel much better knowing you are on my team.”
– Marty Romanelli, Burt’s Reliable
Let’s face it- there are cheaper options than working with Warm Thoughts. And the same is true for our fuel customers when it comes to working with our company. I never understood why fuel companies would think they deserve a premium, but then use cheap, cookie-cutter marketing that accomplishes very little. You guys make it easy for me to focus on growing my business. You give great service, good ideas, look out for my interests, and deliver the goods (ie: sales and increased profit) so I can deliver the gallons.”
– Bill Overbaugh, Ehrhart Energy