Last month we focused on consumer and referral marketing. We hope you’ve discovered several new methods your business can use to attract new clients. Now, let’s talk about the marketing materials you are using to accompany your efforts. What does your business card look like? Do you have professional-looking brochures to distribute? Do you promote your brand?
What does branding mean for your home care business? Branding should be the first step you take in building your company’s image. Entrepreneur.com defines branding as “the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.” For you home care business, your brand is what sets you apart from your competition and helps prospective clients choose your business over others. Your brand should be consistent throughout all of your business materials: logo, letterhead, website, ads, signs, brochures, business cards, etc.
Branding is all about giving consumers a consistent message about your company. Here’s an example: What do you think of when you see the words “Coca-Cola”? Most likely, bold images of a red background with white script pop into your head. Coca-Cola carries their brand throughout all they do, and it is recognized world-wide! If you visit their website, it’s mainly red and white. All labels, ads and communications from Coca-Cola share the same red and white theme.
This should be your goal when it comes to branding your home care business. You most likely don’t have the marketing budget or the team of experts that Coca-Cola has to work on consistent branding, but it can be done—and done well—even on a small budget.
Begin the process by planning a brand strategy for your business. Entrepreneur.com suggests you address five questions:
- What is your company’s mission?
- What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
- What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
A key to knowing the answer is to gather feedback from current clients. You must know what your clients think of your services. What do they like most about your company? What do they think your strengths are? What would they say when recommending your services to a friend?
Pay close attention to the client satisfaction feedback you get from Home Care Pulse’s Quality Satisfaction Management Program. Through your clients’ feedback, you can begin to list your company’s benefits and features—and highlight the things that your clients love about your services. Then, incorporate this into your overall brand.
With some advice from Home Care Pulse’s graphic designer, Nathan Allred, and Entreprenuer.com, we’ve compiled a list of things to consider as you brand your home care business:
Come up with a unique brand message
Come up with a mission statement and a slogan or tagline that highlights your company’s best features. If you don’t have a skilled writer working for your company, you may consider hiring one to help with your content. It is well worth the money to develop focused, concise and polished text to use.
As you write a slogan for your business, be unique and sincere. Avoid over-used advertising phrases like “best prices in town” or “service with a smile.” These types of phrases can make your slogan seem insincere, and they won’t help you stand out from the crowd.
Design a logo
Your logo is the heart of your branding strategy. It will always be connected to your business. Make sure it communicates your brand message. For more information about logo design, read our previous blog containing Nathan’s advice.
Consumers like to see pictures of people—real people. But Allred says, “Don’t get your pictures from Clip Art!” Those pictures are used by too many people, so they will not be unique to your business. And do not “borrow” pictures that you find on the Internet. That is illegal, and you could get your business into legal trouble. You should own the pictures you use for your business. Purchase pictures from a photographer or a reputable website like iStock or ThinkStock. Again, it’s worth the money you spend to give your branding a unique look.
Keep it simple and consistent
Keep your slogan or tagline short and to-the-point. Determine which colors and fonts you will use with your branding—and stick to it. Choose one or two fonts to use with all company materials, and create a style guide that dictates which colors are appropriate with your brand. Don’t be tempted to use other color schemes now and then. If your style is constantly changing, your branding won’t be as powerful and recognizable.
Also, when adding text to marketing materials, make it brief and to the point, and keep your message consistent with your brand. Remember, consumers are less likely to read four long paragraphs of information—and more likely to read text they can quickly scan and understand.
Once you’ve spent the time and money to create a brand for your business, spread it throughout everything you do. Just as Coca-Cola does, put your branding on your sign, your website, your communications, your advertising, etc. Involve employees and encourage them to use your slogan or catch phrases. Even answer the phone using your slogan. Your brand should become entwined in all you do.
(For franchisees, some of the above suggestions may be handled by your franchise. Being part of a franchise can mean being part of an established brand, so be sure to follow all of your franchise’s guidelines for brand messaging. Consistency is especially important to show that you are part of a well-known organization.)
Make sure your branding message tells consumers the most important information about your company—and make sure you live up to it. If your branding promises consumers that you will deliver the best Alzheimer’s care, then your services need to measure up. Otherwise, your branding will fail. Through consistent branding and your dedication to providing the best home care, consumers will begin to recognize your company and rely on your services.