If you want your shop to be perceived as the best shop in your area, you have to differentiate it from your competition. When your car count is stable your profits will be stable and you won't have to lay employees off when you don't want to. The way you accomplish this is through branding your service center. Many of you have already started on this journey and don't realize it. Listen to Head Coach Mike Haley teach shop owners how to implement branding in any size shop. Though the name of your business and the style of your business card are part of branding, it is much more than that. Your brand is your business statement that says what your business does, how you go about doing it and who you are.
A strong brand will achieve the following:
- Deliver the message clearly
- Confirm your credibility
- Connect your prospects emotionally
- Motivate the buyer to act
- Cement user loyalty
One of the primary reasons for creating a brand of your own is to differentiate your shop from your competitors. There is plenty of competition in your area, therefore it is imperative for you to constantly seek ways to distinguish your business from your competitors. The brand you create for your shop, if done properly, will accomplish this for you. So, how do you go about creating a brand for your shop?
When it comes to marketing and brand recall, a unique logo works best. By making your logo the main theme of your marketing and advertising materials, its image will soon be associated with your business. While some logos characterize the shop, some will not. Think of BMW, Mercedes or Toyota: each of these brands is familiar all over the globe. A well-recognized logo is often the best branding strategy you can have.
Create a Slogan
While a well-recognized logo works well, you will also need to impact the prospect with a catchy slogan. A few words saying exactly what your business is about can be a very effective branding tool. Think of these: Nike – just do it, Under Armour – protect this house, Budweiser – the king of beers, Staples – that was easy, Kellogg's Rice Krispies – snap, crackle and pop, Toyota – moving forward, Chubby's Automotive Training Institute – driving profits and dreams home.
Similar to logos, particular colors can become associated with your identity. Colors are used to evoke a specific emotion. Please look at the colors below and how we respond to them.
Most successful logos use three or fewer colors, and one of the colors is white.
Use Effective Photos
The old saying goes "a picture is worth a thousand words." Maybe, and by following these few tips you can be sure your photo is engaging and says the message you want to deliver.
- Show areas that are interesting to customers. Show polished and assembled vehicles. Pictures of cars torn apart on a lift are like showing a birth in a hospital. No one wants to see the labor they just want to see the beautiful baby.
- Show people smiling and enjoying their experience.
- Don't use models. Use real customers that the prospect can identify with.
- Be sure people in the picture face the center of your photo. Prospects want to see eyes in a picture that involves people.
Your Customer Experience
The way your employees appear and conduct themselves is also a part of your overall brand: the uniforms they wear, whether they look professional or look like they just rolled out of bed. Are they polite, courteous and helpful. A person will make a decision in seconds whether they approve of the individual they are conducting business with. I believe brand and culture intertwine. You can't fake it. Your team must believe and display your brand at all times. It is very important the employees live the brand and are not trying to be something they are not.
So now that you have invested time and energy in creating the perfect brand, how do you market it? One of the biggest mistakes made by small business owners is not staying consistent with their brand in advertising and marketing. Most companies will use a variety of vendors for print, website and now social media. They will not ensure that their brand is relevant on all the medias consistently. A group of researchers were asked, "How many times must a prospect see a marketing message to take them from a state of apathy to purchase readiness?"
Following a year-long study, the researchers concluded that a marketing message must penetrate the mind of a prospect a total of nine times before that prospect becomes a customer. That's the good news! The bad news is that for every three times you expose your prospect to your brand or marketing message, it gets missed or ignored two of those times. So you've got to put out the brand and marketing message a total of 27 times in order to make those nine impressions. Relevance is no longer enough. Consumers are overwhelmed with information coming at them from all directions. They see it all around them: It comes in their mail, email, cell phones, televisions, radios, magazines, billboards, Facebook and Twitter. We live in a society of information overload.
Consumers are looking for something that makes them feel rewarded because they paid attention to it. They are looking for the following:
- Something that inspires them
- Something that improves them
- Something that entertains them
- Something that provokes them
- Something that eases their burden
Your brand and marketing must achieve this nine times before your prospect will take action.
You are not just competing against your competition down the street for a prospect. You are competing for short attention spans that are overloaded with other messages. For this reason your brand needs to grab the attention of your audience and cause an emotional call to duty.
Once you have established your brand and are successfully marketing your brand don't stop being relevant. Budweiser learned this lesson a few years ago. Budweiser's national brand recognition went from 16th in 2003 down to 220th in 2010. Why? They did not stay relevant to the times and keep the emotional bond with their consumers and prospects. As their customer base matured and moved into wines or micro beers their branding and marketing remained the same. Everyone knows of the Budweiser commercial played every Christmas with the Clydesdales dressed up with garlands and pulling a sled full of Budweiser through the snow-covered town.That commercial stirs up feelings and emotions that remind me of my childhood and the wonderful Christmases I had. My son who is just coming to the legal age has no emotional attachment to the commercial and looks at me with blank stares when I try to explain it. The point I'm trying to make is the brand you developed 20 years ago for the place to go for diagnosing may need an upgrade if you are in fact a complete automotive shop. I speak with shop owners who have a fear of changing their brand. I would say to them if the old brand is not producing the results you need and therefore is not relevant, a change is absolutely needed. It could be as small as a slight change in the logo and colors to a complete revamp. It's important to create an identity and an emotion when consumers see your brand.
While branding successfully can take money, effort and time, your business will certainly be rewarded for it. If you would like a easy do-it-yourself Branding Worksheet send your contact information to me at [email protected] and I will help you get started.
Chris "Chubby" Frederick is CEO and president of the Automotive Training Institute. He is thankful for assistance from George Zeeks, Brian Hunnicutt, Bryan Stasch and Matt Winslow in preparing this monthly column. Contact him at [email protected]