CHICAGO — Virginia-based marketing communications consultant Lorelei Harloe was out and about recently when she came across a self-service laundry with a unique identity.
“A laundromat in West Virginia that I passed while hiking over the July 4 weekend had the name ‘Wishy Wash’ with a fun sign outside,” Harloe says. “That fun name and colorful sign definitely make it stand out — and as the name is a major branding element, it separated this business from those just identified as ‘Laundromat’ or barely discernible from other shops, especially if it’s located in a strip mall.
“The initial impression is fun and inviting.”
Posting a sign reading “Laundry” clearly identifies the service provided within, yes, but does it really do anything else to make a store truly stand out? Developing a unique brand identity—of which the name is only a part—positions a business as one to remember … and revisit.
“Brand identity is the vision and feeling we have for our business that allows us to stand out from competitors,” explains Dennis Diaz, president of digital marketing and technology firm Spynr, which works exclusively with laundry industry businesses. “A brand is made up of a variety of aspects, including visuals, behavior traits, and how it makes you feel when interacting with them.”
Laundromats should have a brand, Diaz says, because it separates them from the “mundane chore” of doing laundry.
“You can build excitement around the service and create an exciting culture through building up your own unique identity that people will want to be part of, which is where branding comes in handy. Brands power businesses and engage customers by creating something they’re proud to show off for their friends!”
Many laundries around America use generic brands, according to Diaz, which often lead them “straight into mediocrity as every single location is virtually identical.”
“Many people turn away from laundries because they don’t want that same boring experience,” he says. “But with a well-developed and interesting culture, it’s easy to see why someone would go out of (their) way for a laundromat that cares about that level of experience.”
Introduce some variety and uniqueness by creating individualized branding on your storefront or even within your customer service experience, he suggests.
“You can build excitement right off the bat when customers walk up knowing that they will be treated differently than at any generic laundromat.”
But where does one begin building a brand?
Early in the process, start by asking yourself who your target audience is and do research on them, Diaz suggests. Ask questions related to how they perceive your service or what would make it better for them. Then use this information creatively to build out a vision for the brand that resonates with people like potential customers.
But don’t mistake “branding” for “marketing”: “Branded products rely on a specific message they want to convey, so marketers need that in order to make it come across. For example, Nike wants you to know its shoes are the best for athletes out there because of how durable and comfortable they are – this is their branding statement. The marketing team then takes care of making sure people hear about these points through commercials or social media campaigns with other athletic influencers who wear Nikes as well!”
Check back Thursday for the conclusion!