Think about some of your favorite products. Why are they your favorites? If you are like many people, you may not know the answer to that question. Sometimes the product is better than the competition. Other times that preference is due to brand strategy. What is a brand strategy? Branding is a marketing practice that goes beyond selling a product. Branding involves creating recognition for your company and making it memorable. A brand strategy should be built by using intel about the market it will serve.
When many blogs discuss branding, they talk about national products. Apple, Coca-Cola, Disney, and McDonald’s are examples of brands that evoke experiences and expectations beyond their products. In Texas, we have our own iconic brands. Shiner, HEB, Buc-ee’s, Whataburger, Southwest Airlines, Yeti, Dr. Pepper, Blue Bell, and James Avery are highly recognized brands that people associate with Texas. Famous Houston brands include companies as diverse as Shipley Donuts and Schlumberger.
Expandable Brand Strategy
What we do is help companies establish their brands. Because we work primarily with Houston companies, we focus on regional branding, which we can quickly expand statewide or nationwide. We want to help you build a recognized, admired, and preferred brand that customers will choose over your competition.
For local branding, we keep iconically Houston things in mind while crafting your brand. Everyone knows the people are friendly, but the drivers are crazy in Space City/ Bayou City. Oil and chemical refineries pay many paychecks in the area, but Houston is also forward-thinking and exploring green options. Houstonians love good food and drinks, but not if the place is too fancy. After all, we consider ourselves more down-to-earth than the folks up in Dallas.
Does that mean slapping a rocket ship and an oil derrick together as your logo and calling it a day? Of course not. You want to capitalize on the goodwill already associated with H-Town. However, you want your brand to be immediately recognizable and distinct from other Houston things.
Think of your brand as everything associated with your company. A brand can be your symbol or your name, and that can be very important. Think of people who pay thousands of dollars for a Louis Vuitton purse just to show off their brand. However, branding should go beyond a symbol. Texans love HEB. While HEBs do offer good variety and competitive pricing, they are known for being community contributors. Everything about every interaction with a company helps contribute to its brand.
Why Branding Is Important
Branding is about more than selling your products. It is about selling an idea. When working with a limited advertising budget, it can be challenging to understand why you want to sell an idea. However, customers are more likely to buy from brands they know, trust, and like. That is true, even when selling virtually identical products. It is true, even if the product they recognize has a higher selling price.
However, the importance of branding goes beyond sales. Brand also impacts the talent you attract. It can influence whether you get to lease specific spaces. It can also affect whether you get permits, licenses, or other clearances you need to do business.
The Iconic Houston Brand
Gallery Furniture may be the most iconic Houston brand. Back in the day, we remember Mattress Mack promising to “save you money” while advertising his furniture. He built a business on providing affordable, in-stock, made-in-America furniture. Mack made furniture shopping easier for parents by making his stores appealing to kids, with monkeys, free ice cream, and oversized furniture at the entrances.
He built a brand on so much more. When the Houston Rockets won their first championship, Mack was the one who paid for the parade. When disaster hits, he turns his furniture stores into shelters. Mack sets up his stores as training centers for people who need to get a job. Then he hires them. He has made the Gallery Furniture brand mean so much more than same-day furniture delivery.
Creating a Brand
So, how do you go about creating your brand? You start with research. What appeals to the people you want as customers? That is a critical question that is going to vary from business to business. You need to know who your targeted demographic is and what that targeted demographic wants.
Next, you need to develop a brand that speaks to that demographic. What sets you apart from your competition? Why does it make you better? How can you incorporate that into your brand?
There are other things to consider when developing your brand. Think about your company’s vision. What is your mission? Describe the values that are important to you. What voice do you want to create?
What are your company values? Are you committed to diversity? Maybe you believe in incorporating your religious beliefs into your company structure. What are your values? You might think of these values as unimportant in your brand because they do not directly impact customers. However, they help define how potential customers view your company.
Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A have taken strong religious stances that have become highly associated with their brands. Target is known for celebrating diversity. Starbucks has a reputation for helping its baristas with the costs of school. All of these things reflect corporate values. They also all influence who shops at these stores.
A mission statement says why your company exists. It usually describes the types of goods or services, where you operate, and your primary customers.
Mission statements are notoriously tricky for small businesses. That is not because small businesses do not understand their mission. On the contrary, small businesses connect to their mission in a way many big companies do not. It is difficult because some business owners feel like it is unnecessary and a little pretentious.
They are wrong. It is essential always to remember why you are in business. Running a business can get overwhelming. Sometimes you will feel like the only reason you are in business is to try to make enough money to pay your employees. Sometimes you will want to quit. A mission statement reminds you why you opened your business in the first place.
Where do you want your company to be in five years? Ten? Twenty? That is your vision statement.
Love him or hate him, you have to agree that Elon Musk has been a transformative business leader. When you look at Tesla’s vision statement, you see a clear goal: “To create the most compelling electric car company of the 21stcentury.” Your vision does not have to be as lofty as Tesla’s, but it should be every bit as clear and compelling.
Finally, how do you want people to feel about your company? What personality do you want to have? What emotions should you evoke? That is what we refer to as voice. You convey your voice with your verbal and written communications, the images you choose, and your customer relations. Voice is one of our favorite parts of branding. It is also where you can use the possibilities of social media to shine.
Think about Wendy’s and its social media presence on Twitter. What does anyone need a fast-food hamburger restaurant to tweet? Specials, coupons, and new products are the types of things that people expect fast-food restaurants to highlight on their social media. Wendy’s turned their social media account into a way to roast other businesses. They have 3.8 million followers to show for it. These followers get a daily injection of Wendy’s snarky humor. They also get all of the targeted advertising Wendy’s wants them to get.
Let IMPROZ MARKETING Build Your Brand
Whether you are starting from the ground up or have already started building your brand, IMPROZ is here to help you grow your brand. We will help you find your voice to resonate with the customers you want to attract. We will give you the tools to implement brand across every level of your business. Finally, we help you tailor that brand to a regional Houston audience if that fits your business model.