FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Harley-Davidson bar and shield is arguably one of the most recognized logos in the world. It’s on everything from shirts and hats to teddy bears and coffee mugs. And oh, by the way, it’s also on the company’s motorcycles.
That’s a brand, and the highest evolution of the species. People not only recognize the logo, but exactly what it stands for: terms like “rebel,” “rugged” and “individual” immediately spring to mind. When a brand reaches that pinnacle, customers connect with it on a much deeper level, and identify with those traits. The brand has become an experience. Don’t make the mistake, however, of assuming that branding of this kind is only for Fortune 500 companies.
Brand consistency is instrumental in the healthy development and progression of any business, including Laundromats. A positive experience with your brand improves customer satisfaction and can help scale positive word-of-mouth that’s absolutely priceless.
HOW DOES BRANDING HELP?
Branding does five things for your business:
- Improves recognition. When your brand is broadcast across all mediums, from employee uniforms and signage to mailers and social media pages, it becomes recognized more easily. It also begins to draw out an attitude and personality for the store.
- Creates trust. Your laundry begins to take on human characteristics, which makes it easier for customers to develop a bond with it. That leads to increased loyalty. Loyalty in any business, ours included, is imperative.
- Inspires employees. Grounded in your store’s mission and reason for being, employees are more likely to work in the same direction to achieve goals. Engaged, focused employees develop a team spirit that resonates with customers through a high-quality experience in your laundry.
- Generates new customers. When customers have a memorable experience and have forged a bond with your store, they tell others. Think about the Harley-Davidson example. Harley owners’ passion is arguably one of the largest drivers of new customers.
- Builds consistency. You’re no longer convincing customers to come to your laundry; customers see your logo and are already thinking of when they will stop by next, without you even having to ask.
So there’s no way of minimizing the impact a strong brand presence can have on your business.
Where store owners tend to fall down in terms of branding is early on. They don’t work to carve out a unique identity for their laundry. My advice is to spend time on naming your laundry and come up with something memorable to build your brand around. Next is to pair that name with a logo that gives your store its “pop” and contributes further to your laundry’s differentiation within the marketplace.
Treat this brand and identity mark as the foundational elements they are. Do not change or alter them in any way as you drop them into your website, mailings, store signage, uniforms, letterhead, social media, etc. Remember, the name of the game in brand building is consistency.
I’m always surprised when I see owners of multiple stores not staying consistent with their brand, with some stores in their portfolio bearing different names. You have to view every element and touchpoint as an opportunity to strengthen the brand. Use a simple guide on branding — if it isn’t contributing positively to building the brand, it is watering it down.
With your logo and brand standards set, you’ll want to set up a Google My Business page so your store can be found by folks searching for a laundry in their area. The final piece of your out-of-gate branding checklist is creating your web presence. Again, make sure your site’s overall look and feel represents your brand accurately — cultivating the personality you want customers to identify with.
Though it’s easy to want to jump into the social media realm and start building likes and followers, I caution against jumping in right away. Social media will be a large part of your branding efforts. However, this is not a plug-and-play endeavor; it’s involved. It really needs to be thought out.
You have to have a plan for how you will manage interactions on social media. Unless you can devote time to monitoring your social media each day and respond to posts, don’t take this additional task on until you have time to do so.
Coming up Thursday in the conclusion: Advanced brand-building, and keeping a wider view