Putting a Brand on the Market

Do you know who you areand who you want to be? Does everyone in your organization know? Do your clients and prospects and competitors know? Are you fully aware of how effective branding can increase your market share, grow sales, add value to your name, and boost the price you can get for your work?

If you can't answer these questions with absolute affirmation, then your business may be suffering an identity crisis that could prove nothing short of fatal.

Fact is, branding has become, more than ever, a major industry watchword as 2003 begins to unfold and the business climate continues to become more challenging and more competitive.

The message about the importance of effective dealer/designer/showroom branding resonates throughout Kitchen & Bath Design News this month, and is being echoed by some of the most respected kitchen/bath professionals around.

DPHA president Jeff Burton, for example, notes' that branding is a process that embraces all aspects of an operation products, services, showroom ambience, staff knowledge, sales approach, advertising and more.

Well-known kitchen and bath designer Mick De Giulio talks about starting with a specific goal charging premium prices, gaining credibility, increasing the value of your company and then carefully shaping your marketing strategy around that.

Kimball Derrick, CKD, points to the need to establish what you stand for, meld that with your core values, and then get the word out.
And, Joan DesCombes suggests being sure you qualify clients in a way that assures there'll be a "good marriage" between their needs and what you're capable of delivering.

What underlines each of these perspectives, of course, is the notion that your branding message should contain instant recognition and, even beyond that, an emotional attachment that's at the essence of who you are.

In other words, your branding initiatives should tie directly into not just what products and services offer, but how those offerings will make your clients feel about their home, their family, their lifestyle, themselves.

Industry leaders point out, too, that an effective branding strategy can vary dramatically from company to company. But, its foundation, they note, is always built on a clear notion of who you are your position in the market, your unique value and your ability to communicate that message consistently and clearly in everything you do.

The best way to develop a branding effort is to start with questions. Among them:

Do you promise an experience that's different, or better, than the competition's? What is it? How do you deliver it? Are you targeting a market that's right for you? Are you consistently meeting, or exceeding, expectations? Have your salespeople been trained so that they share your vision and your message? Are your displays consistent with the image that you want your showroom to project? Do you aggressively cater to the media as part of an effort to effectively brand your name?

Building a distinct and unique brand for your company may be the most important business initiative you implement in 2003. It should be way up there on your list of priorities as the new year gets underway in earnest.

Editor's Note: Kitchen & Bath Design News launches two new exclusive features this month both aimed at providing an overview of the kitchen and bath industry that's more comprehensive and well-rounded than ever.

K&BDN's newly-developed "Kitchen & Bath Industry Performance Index" will provide readers with a monthly snapshot of the vitality of the kitchen/bath and housing markets. Employing a wide range of key economic factors and dealer surveys, the Index will offer revealing insights into business conditions and the overall climate of the industry.

The second new feature "DPH Perspectives" will reflect K&BDN's exclusive alliance with the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association (DPHA), a recently formed trade association serving the kitchen and bath industry. Under the terms of the alliance, an officer of the Washington, DC-based DPHA will author columns aimed at that important industry sector; the columns will appear every other month throughout 2003 in K&BDN. The first such column, written by DPHA president Jeff Burton, appears this month on Page 36.

K&BDN welcomes this new industry voice, and anticipates our readers will do the same.