Some thoughts about “branding” (and how you can succeed in marketing)

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This morning’s Globe and Mail newspaper included results of a survey outlining the success and failure of business brands in Canada. Polling research firm Leger co-ordinated the project with National Public Relations with one key¬†question: Do you have a good or bad opinion of the brand, don’t know enough, or don’t know about it at all?

The highest scores went rightfully to the most widely recognized brands with the best reputation. And thankfully for my shares in Alphabet, Inc., Google ranks highest at 85. Several Canadian retail chains and one fast food place (Tim Hortons) dominated the other top spots.

Undeniably, the survey discovered, brands can take a major hit when things go wrong, such as Volkswagen caught in the missions scandal, and Heinz Ketchup, caught when it elected to use non-Canadian tomatoes.

Yet these observations also suggest an important consideration: Brand success can be geographical or sectoral — and it is quite conceivable that qualities good for a brand in one place may be problematic elsewhere.

If the value of a brand on the surface is a combination of “liking” and broad awareness, then you can take things a sep further by asking another question: Where is my market?

Very few AEC businesses really need to reach everyone — the universe of individuals and organizations we need to make aware of our business, and like it, is thankfully much smaller and more manageable.

There’s certainly no need for expensive paid mass media marketing in our sector. We won’t ever need to buy Superbowl ads to achieve awareness. In fact, our communities may be quite specialized geographically, vocationally or both.

If you are a general contractor building strip malls within a certain radius of your office, you probably have a good idea of who would be your likely clients. The big “catch” could be the new arrival who obtains a positive picture of your reputation and goes for you.

One important conclusion: You earn your trust and reputation by doing things right on the job; the question of how you spread the news is answered by marketing experts, and presumably you can choose one of these by determining if the expert’s own branding has succeeded. A smart marketer for the AEC community won’t suggest you waste resources reaching people who don’t care; but may propose a more intensive campaign, perhaps through relevant associations, where you can continue the reputation-building process without burning holes in your wallet.

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