Essential Questions to Answer to Build a Stronger Brand
Build a Stronger Brand
Improve Your Architecture Firm’s Brand Strategy by Answering These Questions
If you own an architecture firm, you want to be successful both in landing clients and potential employees. A strong brand strategy is part of the foundation of your firm's success.
To find out how to avoid branding mistakes for your architecture business, make sure you ask yourself these questions.
What is Your Business Strategy?
First and foremost, your architecture firm must have a clear business strategy. It doesn't matter if you are a solo principal, or running a multi-office firm with dozens of employees: You need a business strategy. Think of it as the guide to positioning 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 strategy.
It's so tempting to jump right into branding and tactics, but that's exactly where we find many architects get into trouble. They wonder why their branding and 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 Blueprinting process around helping an architect client dig into the strategic thinking and planning as a foundation for more effective branding and marketing.
Having a clear goal and strategy for your architecture business will make it easier to create — and deliver on — your brand vision. Your business strategy helps define the tone and style of your brand and messaging.
As you work on defining your business strategy, be sure to answer two questions:
Who is Your Target Audience?
This one could be simple, but is often one of the biggest branding mistakes.
Know who you're marketing to. With your business strategy in your front pocket, you can quickly develop a persona that you can market your brand towards.
If you decide to simply market to everybody in the world, not only will you not get as much business for your efforts, you'll get a lot of bad business that you don't want to deal with.
Do market research, see what competitors are doing for their target audience, and make sure you're putting your brand in front of other businesses and people who actually need your services.
As an architecture firm, your audience could range from city and county developers to home owners, from corporate directors to local chefs, and everything in between. Selecting specific audiences will help focus your branding and the tone and type of marketing.
What Makes You Unique?
Yeah, you have an architecture firm. But what makes you different from the others?
One of the common branding mistakes is looking too much like a competitor. Your firm should be unique; that is, some aspect that holds you apart from the crowd of other firms. This aspect needs to be relevant to your industry and - more important - valuable to your customers.
When thinking about what makes your firm different, there are generally three topics to consider: Your niche, type of project, and design style. Start the brainstorming process 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?
- Is there a certain design style you’re known for, like modern and minimalist corporate spaces?
When you give your clients and potential employees something nobody else in the industry is doing, you've just found the core of your brand development strategy.
How Will Your Brand Look?
Time to get creative. Your logo, color palette, typography, graphic presentation, and even messaging, must be aligned to your firm's strategy, as well as being inviting and fresh.
Branding mistakes often lead to lackluster brand visuals and unrewarding brand performance. We find architects typically have clear stylistic and design ideas for their brands, but lack the understanding of what makes a brand and logo work.
Rather than struggling to get it right yourself, work with a branding professional with experience in brand design and development. "You can't read the label from inside the bottle," applies to branding — some outside perspective helps the process and improves the result.
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 Content and Website?
In today's marketing world, you must have your own website, as well as consistent content.
Prospective clients expect value before they engage you on a project. Giving your target audience useful information and advice is a positive and effective way to establish and begin nurturing those relationships.
Your website should align with your branding strategy. Clean, professional, in tune with your theme, and kept up to date with relevant, useful content.
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?
You'll want to see which variable affect reach, engagement, conversion, and sales. If your brand strategy is working, you should see an increase in website traffic and social media engagement. Use software and spreadsheets to record data about your brand development strategy.
When you notice certain patterns concerning what works and what doesn't, tweak the strategy to alter the direction to a more profitable future.
A major branding mistake is sticking to the same thing for months or, worse, years. You should always be seeking ways to make your brand marketing better.
How you do that is staying aware of how specific marketing strategies change your stats.
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