Brand Power


Dan Monroe

By Dan Monroe

If you’re in the business of brand development and have never contemplated the value of design where it affects brand, well, you’re just not thinking hard enough. Does the Average Joe appreciate brand design? Is it worth what good agencies charge for it? I’ve often contemplated this question. In fact, I wrote a  blog entry a while back discussing just this very issue. In it, I reviewed examples where I see the design of a brand making a difference. One that I noted was Starbucks’ loyalty program and their well-designed gold card. So coveted is this thing (a loyalty card, for goodness’ sake), when Chad Johnson’s (formerly Chad Ochocinco’s) car was broken into, the one thing he was really mad about? Losing his Starbucks gold card. I contend that had it looked like your typical credit card, he couldn’t have cared less.

As I contemplate whether Average Joe appreciates design, it brings to mind a Joe who might at face value appear average. Joe is a carpenter by trade. He’s a down-to-earth, no-nonsense sort of Joe who gets the work done with no muss and no fuss. We discovered Joe (Joe’s company is JZ Installations; call him if you’d like to see his business card: 205-440-6621) when we moved offices about three years ago (he did a lot of our build-out) and we’ve used him off and on for those three years. You see, we had found out that–in the world of craftsmen–Joe really isn’t average.

One day Joe dropped by with a proposition: if we would design his logo, business cards and the like, he would do some build-out work we needed. Well folks, I’m here to tell you barter is still a thing out there. And, while most of the companies that seek our services aren’t of the business model or size that seeks to work through barter, we took him up on his excellent offer.

In order to do the job right, we walked Joe through our normal process of discovery and iteration which resulted in a brand look and feel that Joe believes represents him and his work, Then we translated the newly minted brand visual language to his business tools (cards and stationery), and went on about our business.

The other day, Joe came by. “How’s it going with your new brand?” we asked. “Great!” he beamed. Joe is not the beaming sort of dude, but, I gotta say…the man beamed. He went on to tell us that, since he had started using his new brand identity, (particularly his business cards) people had quit feeling the need to look over his shoulder while he did the work. We all know this sort of micromanagement of home-services folks. You get ’em over to the house and then call into work, “Hey, gotta be home for a bit…got some guy working on my whatzit.” And then you stay home to watch over the castle because you’re nervous that the “some guy” who’s working on your whatzit might not be one to be trusted.

Coincidentally, I was recently discussing the home-services sector with a colleague, Simon Turner, who owns an agency in northern Virginia called SPT and True. Simon noted that the number one barrier-to-entry / point of pain for homeowners about folks who provide services (HVAC, plumbing, and, yes, carpentry) is trustworthiness. Yep. Been there. A few bad ones out there have made it hard for guys like Joe to be perceived as trustworthy. But, here was Joe telling me that the degree to which his clients trust him had risen because of his brand identity. We had developed a look that was strong, confident, properly proportioned, and that translated well to Joe’s business tools. And part of the result was that his customers didn’t feel the need to watch over him while he did the work. Behold the power of a well-designed brand!

I’ve got to reach out to Joe soon. It is time to do some bathroom remodeling, and he’s definitely my go-to. I’m just debating with myself whether I should tell Joe now or later that what also comes with that newfound trust and the power of that brand is, most likely, the ability to raise his prices a little bit.