How to Build a Strong Architecture Brand
Build a Stronger Brand
Does your Architecture Firm have a Brand Strategy?
Architects know that a strong foundation is essential to project success.
When it comes to growing your firm, that strong foundation is found in a great online experience with a clearly-differentiated brand and a high-performing, well-designed website that help you attract more of your best clients and potential employees.
To help you build a stronger brand (and avoid branding mistakes) for your architecture firm, start by answering these questions.
What is Your Business Focus?
First and foremost, your architecture firm must have a clear business focus. It doesn't matter if you are a solo principal, or running a multi-office firm with dozens of employees: Having a clear focus will help guide your firm — defining what you want to be known for and how you will work. For example, if want to be known for your eco-friendly building style, that would help you define your business focus.
It can be tempting to jump right into the tactics of marketing your firm, but that's exactly where we find many architects get into trouble. They wonder why their marketing efforts aren't working. Or, they find themselves in a cycle of rushed, last-minute marketing with nothing to show for it. ￼
We actually developed our Business Blueprint process around helping an architect client dig into the strategic thinking and planning for more effective branding and marketing.
Having clear goals and focus for your architecture firm will make it easier to create and deliver on your brand promise. Here are a few questions to get some clarity on your business focus:
Who is your target audience?
This one should be simple, but is often one of the most overlooked essentials of business planning.
Know who you're marketing to, who do you most want to work with, what makes a client a good client for your firm? As you define this ideal client, you can develop a “persona” that helps focus your marketing to put your brand in front of people who want and need your services.
When firms try market to everybody — to be all things to all people — marketing activities tend to be less effective and may only succeed in attracting prospects and projects that really don’t fit your firm.
As an architecture firm, your audience could range from city and county developers to homeowners, and everything in between. Selecting specific audiences will help focus your branding and the tone and type of marketing.
What makes your firm unique?
Your firm is different and your want branding that reflects that. It’s time to get clear about the aspects of your firm that help you stand apart from other firms. This needs to be relevant to your industry and - more important - valuable to your clients.
When thinking about what makes your firm different, chances are it’s a combination of your niche, the type of projects you like to design, and your design style and approach. Start brainstorming by asking yourself these questions:￼
Do you attract certain clients, like high-end retailers?
Are you the go-to firm for certain projects, such as waterfront restaurants or luxury resorts?
Is there a certain design style you’re known for, like modern homes or open-plan corporate spaces?
What experience can clients expect when they work with you?
Out of this brainstorming, try to come up with an “only” statement for your firm. “We are the only architecture firm that ________.” When your statement reflects reality—you can easily back it up with examples of what you do and how you work—you’ll have a core piece of your brand strategy.
How will your brand look?
OK, not you’re ready to get creative and translate the brand into a visual identity. Your logo, color palette, typography, graphic presentation, and messaging, must be aligned to your brand strategy.
Branding mistakes often lead to lackluster brand visuals and unrewarding brand performance. Architects typically have clear stylistic and design ideas for their brands, but can lack the understanding of what makes a brand work.
The phrase, "You can't read the label from inside the bottle" applies to branding — some outside perspective helps the process and improves the result.
Rather than struggling to get it right yourself, work with a branding professional with experience in brand design and development.
Where Will You Build Your Brand?
What marketing platforms will you use to show off your brand? Everything from construction site signs and social media to business networking and your website needs to be considered.
To figure out where you should build your brand, don't make the mistake of spreading yourself wide and thin. This goes back to the target audience dilemma. Just like going after "everyone" doesn't really work, being "everywhere" decreases the chances for return on your investment.
Try basing your choice of marketing platforms on what you know about your target audience and where they are:
• Do they use social media?
• Which social media platforms?
• Where do they look for info?
• How do they research?
• What influences their decision making?
Answering these questions will help you pinpoint where your brand will flourish. In almost every case, digital platforms should be part of your brand strategy.
What about your website and online content?
Another core part of your brand foundation is having a well-designed and well-performing website that delivers a great experience to prospective clients.
Your website should align with your branding strategy. Clean, professional, in tune with your brand, and kept up to date with relevant, useful content.
And engaging website also means you provide your target audience with useful information to establish and begin nurturing those relationships.
When you know who you are talking to, you also know what questions they are asking. Create content rich in keywords and topics that correspond to those questions. This will help boost your site's search ranking.
Consider adding a blog to your site to present your insights and opinions on current events and industry trends, and share project and people news from your firm. It's a good way to show you are in touch with your target audience.
How Will You Record and Adjust?
Once you have a brand and content strategy, what next? You will need to monitor your brand perception. This means tracking your branding statistics and adjusting for optimization.
You’ll know your brand strategy is working by looking at the clients you’re attracting. So if you’re focusing on positioning your brand as the go-to firm for corporate office designs, you’ll know your strategy is successful if you’re getting those types of projects. Pretty simple, right?
It’s important to track which variables affect reach, engagement, conversion, and sales. If your brand strategy is working, you should see an increase in website traffic and social media engagement. Routinely check and record data to measure how well your brand development strategy performs.
When you notice certain patterns concerning what works and what doesn't, tweak the strategy to alter the direction to a more profitable future.
Stay aware of how specific marketing activities impact results to help improve your efforts and keep your marketing fresh. Avoid the mistake of sticking to the same thing for months or even years, long after it stopped working.
Don't Let Branding Mistakes Derail Your Architecture Firm
Learn to avoid the mistakes many architects run into by answering the above questions. Getting your brand, target audience, marketing platforms, and content strategy figured out will put you on track to acquiring the types of projects and clients you want and need for success.
If you're not ready to tackle brand strategy on your own, that's what our Business Blueprint is all about.
We start with a free 30-minute architecture marketing strategy call to help you:
Get clarity on why your current digital marketing efforts aren't working
(re)Define your competitive advantage
Discover insights into your ideal clients that you never would have thought of on your own