Branding Basics for Architects
The Architect's Guide to Effective Branding
Branding is not as difficult as you think, if done right.
Branding for Architects in 8 Steps
If you want to promote your architecture business you need a clear and strategic branding effort.
It might not be as difficult as you think if you follow some steps. Let's get started.
Identify Your Goals
Successful branding for architects starts with clear goals. A simple way to decide on your branding goals is to identify where you are now and where you plan to be in one year, three years, and five years.
If you're an individual architect, decide whether you want to grow your own clientele or you're aiming to get a position with an established firm. What type of projects do you want to add to your portfolio, what skills and expertise do you want to develop?
If you're an owner or managing principal at an architecture firm, you want to identify goals and understand when growth and success look like for your firm. Is your goal to become a large firm or do you want to carve out a niche as a boutique firm? Do you want more local projects or do you want to focus on specific type of projects but expand to work in various locations?
Before you start setting goals for branding and marketing, it is important to have a clear picture of your business' financial goals. Beyond having goals for free income, that financial insight will help you calculate the value and number of new clients you need to attract, and the staffing you need to handle new projects.
Get SMART about your goals!
Know Your Audience
The architecture industry is quite broad. Knowing your audience is key is you want successful branding for your firm.
For example, a commercial architecture firm needs to market to a different audience than the residential architect wants to reach. You want to be able to market your services to the right people.
It's not enough to just hope the right client stumbles upon your services. In fact, hope is not a marketing strategy. To find your clients, you need to get out there and get in front of the best audience based on the services you offer.
Narrowing your focus to your key audience is important when you're trying to grow and expand your brand.
Start by answering these questions:
- Who is your audience?
- Where are they?
- What do they do?
- What problem do you solve for them?
- What information do they want?
- How do they make decisions?
Construct Your Brand & Your Brand Story
Once you know your goals and your audience, you're ready to create a brand that you can market.
Ideally, you want to create a brand clients will fall for at first sight. A brand that makes them want to take a closer look at your portfolio.
Start by making obvious what type of projects your firm handles. It should be clear from the moment potential clients view your page what type of architecture is your specialty.
Do you specialize in commercial or residential architecture? Do you design a specific type of commercial building — medical, education, corporate HQ, retail, worship, warehouse, etc.? Or do you focus your expertise on a specific style of residential architecture — modern or traditional, tiny homes or estates, renovation, restoration? You get the idea: Be clear about what you do and the difference you offer.
What matters to you? Why do you do what you do and what makes you love certain projects?
When you can create a brand story and messages that express your vision and what you value, you'll find it is easy to reflect that in everything you do, including your marketing and client communications. Your brand story plays a major role in attracting the best possible clients.
Work on Your Visuals
The next step is to work on creating the visual identity of your brand. While it may start with a logo and color palette, your brand's visuals will extend to your website, portfolio, business cards, signage, presentations, and anything that represents your architecture firm.
Your logo should also reflect professionalism and be easy to remember. Consider your logo as the face of your business. It is worth investing in a professionally-designed, unique logo. When you invest in your own business, it shows.
Think about your business presentation. It should be as professional and well crafted as your architecture design.
Ensure your portfolio is created with high-quality photography and clients will know they're dealing with professionals.
For all the investment and value of a high-end commercial and residential space, it's shocking to see how many architects and builders are willing to cut corners and skimp on photography. Nothing can diminish the impact and perceived value as much as a poor quality photo with bad composition, inadequate lighting, etc.
Quality visuals reflect the value you place on your own business and make it more desirable for clients to want to invest in your services.
A few words about websites
Your website may be the first encounter a prospect has with your architecture firm. You'll want to make sure it makes an appealing and accurate first impression.
Six essentials of any good website:
- Be easy to navigate, not overwhelming or confusing.
- Clearly state what you do and why it's important to them.
- Have an obvious, quick way to contact you.
- Be professionally designed, built to look good, and function properly on all devices (mobile responsive design).
- Feature relevant, timely, and keyword-rich content.
- Include up-to-date security settings.
Your website can and should play a major role in helping you attract and land new business!
(Read more about maximizing the value of your website)
Consistency is Key to Successful Branding
With all the effort you're putting into creating your brand, you want to maintain a level of consistency. Even in a solo or small firm, having brand guidelines will help you keep up with a clear branding style.
Have a process in place to make sure your portfolio and website are kept up to date and in line with your brand.
If there are changes happening in your company, make sure they are reflected on your website, resume, or business cards. This could range from change or address to changes in your staff. If an architect leaves your firm, then you need to ensure you update the information.
When you give branding the same attention to detail that you give your project work, your clients — and prospective clients — will always see the same level of professionalism from you.
Experiment with New Technologies
Architecture is a visual and physical experience. Using the latest technology can help keep you ahead of the competition.
If you want to show your clients how you make their project come to life, 3D modeling and rendering can be key to a successful presentation.
When you take time to get to know who your clients are and what appeals to them, you can tailor your use of new technologies appropriately. It's also just as important to use technology in ways that align with your style and approach — whether that's a hand-sketched concept or a virtual walkthrough.
Innovative and on-brand presentations will keep you ahead of the competition and will keep your customers coming back.
Don't Pass Up Social Media
These days, branding for architects is not complete without a strong social media presence.
This is due in part to people searching for ideas on the internet when they have a project in mind.
Is your audience using Pinterest, Instagram, or Houzz, to find and organize ideas? Are they likely to follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Architecture firms can build a brand—and raise awareness with key prospects and clients—by properly managing a dynamic social media presence.
One way to build trust in your brand is by letting customers rave about your work.
When you design with your clients' needs in mind and deliver on your promise, clients will reward your hard work by sharing excellent testimonials.
Don't be afraid to ask for and feature reviews and testimonials from clients on your website. That added validation and perspective can help create a sense of trust for potential clients.
Include a request for a review in your project wrap-up process. This can be as easy as sending an email with a link to your Google business page or Facebook business page.
Happy client stories will help you attract prospects with similar needs and sensibilities. Look at ways to feature your favorite projects and best clients in website content, on social media, and in presentations.
Did you find these Branding for Architects Tips helpful?
When it comes to building your architecture business, start by setting clear goals, identifying your audience, knowing your brand story, creating a visual style and brand to match.
You don't have to do it alone! Archmark helps architects and designers succeed with branding and marketing. Schedule a free strategy review call with us using the button below.