Midyear Review: Brand Management

Posted by on Jun 20, 2013 in Branding | 0 comments

Midyear Review: Brand Management 

Lara Moffat, ASLA, LM Creative Consulting, PLANET Member Consultant

PLANET Front News, June 2013

For many companies, it is almost time for midyear reviews. Spring is behind them and they are preparing for the summer. As they are reviewing their financials, it also time for them to take a look at their overall brand and assess their marketing strategies.

When was the last time you evaluated your brand, and were you successful in aligning it with your business model? Simply, branding is how you and your business are viewed in the market place. Though it is not simple! It takes a process to create, time to develop, and—the big one—CONSISTENCY to endure.

Branding is also not just a marketing concept, it plays a part in how every aspect of your business is communicated and perceived. The saying may be cliché, but “Perception is Reality” in the eyes of the consumer, and you want to be perceived favorably. Think of all the contact you have with your team, clients, and community at large … how are you and your business viewed?

There are several questions to ask when defining your brand; here are the basics:

1-      What core services or products do we offer?

2-      Are we servicing what our market wants?

3-      Do we need to modify our business model?

4-      How are we perceived by our employees, clients, competition, and prospects?

5-      Do our team members have a clear understanding of their roles in our overall success?

By answering these questions you will be on your way to clearly specifying your services, identifying your market, and differentiating your company, which will help determine how to manage your brand. Use the following to further define your branding and start developing a plan.

Creating your message

State what services or products you offer.  The more specific you are about the services or products you offer, the more likely you will be to communicate accurate messaging to your community at large, including internally to your team and externally to your customers, industry colleagues, and prospects. If you are routinely contacted by consumers regarding services you do not offer, then it is definitely time to review what message your employees, your promotional materials, and others are sending to prospects.

Determine what motivates the decision makers in your key market. Knowing your target audience is essential to market to any given audience effectively, so you need to identify the consumer behavior that motivates your specific group. Consumer behavior is the study of when, why, how, and where people do or do not buy a product or service. This information will vary greatly from residential to commercial and tree sales to high-end landscape construction projects. In addition, it is important to note that people really don’t buy a service because of the service; they buy it based on the benefits of the service.

Promote what differentiates your company from another. At first blush, many landscape companies offer the same services from the consumer’s perspective. But, as stated above, your client is more concerned about the benefit they receive than with the service. Try to define a personality, such as a clients’ lifestyle, a company’s involvement within the community, or a business’ sustainable practices, that authentically speaks to your target audience, business model, and community culture.

Communicating your message

Once you’ve “defined a personality,” it is time to manage your brand. Develop a plan that reviews and integrates all contacts your business has with your marketplace: employees, clients, industry colleagues, collateral, marketing, equipment, etc. Every impression makes an impact on branding, and professionalism tops the list as the way to build a positive brand. Think about the individuals you respect. I’d wager you have a high regard for them because they are a professional in their words, actions, and appearance. The same is true for your business.

Train your employees to be professional by valuing what they do and that investment will have a high rate of return. By engaging your employees and making them aware of the business direction, you will build ownership and develop a team mentality. Set expectations: first, through leading by example, and second, by holding yourself accountable. Put in place tools and guidelines that enable all to achieve. Then, expect attention to detail, from the cleanliness of the fleet, to the consistency of marketing materials, acknowledging the successes and constructively course correcting the misses.

Each year, devise a focus. Work with your entire team, senior management through crewmembers, in the initial year, and lead exercises that give them the basis to communicate your brand. Start with a concise and clear mission statement or tagline—a succinct version of an elevator speech. Ensure everyone understands it and lives it. Remind them of the message in speech, in conduct, and print. Share it in conversations with clients, networking with colleagues, releases to the media, and in your promotional collateral. By embodying and embracing your brand, your company will be hard to miss in the marketplace!

In April, I led a PLANET webinar titled “How to Define and Manage Your Brand” that covers this topic in more depth. After reading this article, and if you are interested in learning more, then I recommend reviewing the presentation online in the webinar archives which can be accessed at LandcareNetwork.org and following the instruction on the Webinars page under the Events/Education tab.

Lara Moffat, owner of LM Creative Consulting and former director of marketing for a nationally recognized Design/Build/Maintenance firm, brings a diverse educational background (degrees in art, psychology, horticulture, and landscape architecture) and a wealth of landscape industry experience to her approach to strategic marketing, public relations, and branding that’s ideal for any size business. Moffat understands how to market to clients desiring a luxury good as well as those requesting a service product. Through her strategic process, she can help you analyze your business, develop a tailored marketing plan, and align an integral message, both internally and externally, with your overall business plan.