Building Your AEC Brand

In business and marketing discussions, the word “brand” pops up constantly. It’s easy to take the term for granted, but what is a brand, and why should you take time to build it?

Consider the origin of the word – in Old English, “brand” meant “to burn.” The term developed over time to denote marking something with fire – from livestock to wine barrels, farmers and merchants would burn (or “brand”) their name into anything they had to trade or sell so that its origin was clear.

But how is this relevant in a world of social media, automation, and digital marketing? Well, technology has changed, but the principle remains the same – by making sure that your company’s identity is embedded within all products, services, and marketing material, your “brand” becomes recognized as one that clients can trust. In fact, the myriad media platforms available today, along with the competitiveness of the global market, make understanding your brand more important than ever.

Define Your Brand

Brand building starts with defining it. To clearly define your brand, it’s worth going back to basics and asking some fundamental questions: first, what are your company’s values? Perhaps sustainability is key, you might always source your products locally, or maybe yours is a family-run business? Second, think of your core strengths – can you boast of quick turnaround times or high-quality materials for example?

While thinking about these aspects of your brand, honesty is vital – what values can your business really uphold, and what do you genuinely deliver on that separates you from the competition? Making promises that you cannot keep is likely to do your reputation more harm than good. On the other hand, your legitimate values and strengths are a great starting point for brand building.

Finally, identify your key client groups. Knowing your audience is essential in forming your brand’s visual identity and marketing strategy.

Add the Personal Touch

After you’ve defined your brand by identifying its values, strengths, and key client groups, the next step is to give it some personality. Graphic design is essential in brand building and so is worth investing in – from logos to color schemes and typography, strong visual motifs will help your brand to become instantly recognizable- skimping here by paying your 8-year-old nephew to slap a logo together on Microsoft Paint is a false economy for your business. A logo is a sort of “calling card” for what your entire business stands for, so it is best to take some time to think about what values you are trying to embody and have them translated into a sleek, instantly recognizable symbol with the most positive psychological impact.

Similarly, creating ‘tone of voice’ and visual branding guidelines will ensure that your copy remains consistent across the range of media that your business utilizes – this is especially useful if you have multiple content creators. Make sure that the tone of both your copy and graphic design accurately reflects what your brand is about, as these aspects will go a long way towards creating your brand’s identity. Presenting project pages is another opportunity to showcase your brand’s unique style.

Remember, a client’s experience of your company begins from the moment they view your publicity or online content, so make sure they get a sense of your brand’s personality from the very beginning.

Differentiate and Position Your Brand

A vital element in brand building is identifying what you are offering that is unique – what differentiates your brand to make it stand apart from its competitors? This could be in your values or key strengths, or perhaps you have identified a gap in the market that you aim to fill. You have a unique opportunity to action your values in the brand guidelines that you create- you can specify accessibility measures for your content to support the disabled community and anticipate future PR pitfalls by defining language usage and guidelines before they have a chance to occur.

It’s also important to maximize your brand’s visibility by positioning it within the ideal market. Again, you can draw from your work in defining your brand to find the most suitable outlets, i.e., by considering how to reach people who are part of your key client groups and who share your company’s values. Blogs, vlogs, social media, and traditional print media can all be used to reach your target audience and develop your brand’s individual voice. ImImage-based social media platforms such as Pinterest and Designspiration are especially well-suited to the AEC industry, but think outside of the box, and you are sure to find ways to get your brand in front of the right people.

Understand Brand Relevance

Brand relevance involves connecting to your customers on a personal and emotional level. In an ever-evolving digital world, brand relevance is changing, so make sure you are aware of the current trends.

Keeping clients engaged, providing value, and understanding the importance of ethics in the current market will help your brand to remain relevant as the AEC industry continues to increase its focus on User Experience (UX) and Customer Experience (CX). Beyond a marketing tool, social media has become a customer service platform and a space within which dialogues and relationships can be fostered with your client group. It may also be worth considering embracing emerging technology such as VR and AR, or, as the world opens up again post-pandemic, connecting with clients face-to-face. However you choose to connect with customers, building trust is key.

Review Your Brand

Think of some well-known brands, and their constants will likely spring to mind; for example, its color scheme and font may have remained the same for decades. However, look a little deeper, and you are sure to see how the brand has developed over time – this may have involved adapting to the changing sensibilities of its client base, utilizing new technologies, or subtle shifts in its visual identity.

Sometimes a change of direction is needed – a brand is not static and may go through a range of different iterations. It is important to reflect on your successes and failures so that you can make the necessary tweaks to keep your brand exciting and relevant.

Start Today!

Brand building is all about creating a recognizable identity that is consistent across all platforms, and building a client base to whom you remain relevant and trustworthy. It is a constant work-in-progress that has to adapt to changing technology and culture. Ultimately, a strong brand has its own personality and offers something unique. Need help in building your brand? Reach out to Bizop to arrange a consultation.