Here Are the Keys to Establishing and Growing Your Laundry Business’ Brand Identity
What is a brand and why is it critical to the success of a business? What factors must be considered when establishing a brand and brand identity? How is your brand communicated? Finally, how do you expand a brand into complementary products, services, businesses, and revenue streams?
In this column, I’ll share my branding expertise – offering insights into why and how to build a brand for your laundry business.
What Exactly Is a Brand?
Quite simply, a brand is the “name, symbol, term” put on a product or service offered by a business. Your brand is a dynamic component of your brand identity and the foundation of your business-service enterprise. It’s also the cornerstone of the enterprise’s future expansion.
Brand identity, on the other hand, is how you want your audience to perceive your company, product, services, or brand. Your brand image combines your values with how you communicate your concepts, and the emotions you want customers to feel when they interact with you. Much like a value proposition, brand identity is what you will continuously build upon as your business grows and expands.
Establishing a Brand
Is establishing a brand really that important? Yes. It keeps you focused. Consistently living your brand identity – internally and externally – ensures staff, processes, and communications are in alignment. In doing so, you strengthen your brand and distinguish it from the competition in the minds of your customers and team members.
Tips for Creating Your Brand
When it comes to creating a brand, remember that it’s born from who you are, who you want to be, and who your customers perceive you to be. It distinguishes your products and services from the competition and creates a consumer expectation of quality.
When creating a brand, be sure to:
1. Define your specialty. What do you do best?
2. Conduct research to unveil how you fit into the competitive marketplace.
3. Conduct more research to learn the needs and wants of your current and future customers.
4. Write down the benefits and features of your products or services.
5. Discover what customers and prospects already think of your company.
6. Define the qualities and values you want customers to associate with your company, products, and services.
7. Define your brand.
Communicating Your Brand
Now that you’ve defined it, you need to communicate your brand consistently to your target market – graphically and verbally. All aspects of your marketing and public relations (website, news releases, social media, direct mail, advertising, etc.) should link back to your brand and brand identity. Some suggestions to get you started are listed below:
1. Develop a logo and tagline. Use them everywhere.
2. Create brand standards for marketing materials (consistent logo, colors, fonts, and images).
3. Develop a brand voice. Is it quirky, techy, casual, quick, or formal?
4. Integrate your brand into marketing pieces, websites, training materials, phone greetings, signage, email signatures, etc.
5. Consistently communicate your brand.
Expanding Your Brand into New Revenue Streams
As your business enterprise grows, you might choose to start new complementary businesses or revenue streams. If you do, consider how you can tie the new revenue generators into your mothership brand. For example, if you own three vended laundries with three different brands, you aren’t creating symmetry and brand recognition across all of your businesses. Instead, you are introducing yourself over and over again to the market. That doesn’t make sense.
For example, in the Omaha, Neb., John Stuckey owns three vended laundries, all of which are branded Wash World Coin Laundry. His customers know Wash World is synonymous with “all things laundry.” Each store offers self-service laundry – as well as residential wash-dry-fold and commercial laundry services, each with pickup and delivery. Stuckey’s laundries even provide “White Glove Linen Service” – where bed and table linens are ironed to “five-star hotel perfection.” And, through good branding, Stuckey has become an all-in-one laundry source that benefits from a broader demographic.
Similarly, Continental Girbau Inc. introduced its Express Laundry Center brand to the marketplace 15 years ago. The Express Laundry Center is a turnkey vended laundry package sold to investors throughout North America. Thanks to consistent branding, customers know that Express Laundry Centers enable them to complete laundry in less than 60 minutes. This sets these operations apart from the competition. Today, there are more than 100 Express Laundry Centers in North America. Many Express Laundry Center owners now own multiple stores – all with the Express Laundry Center brand.
In the end, your brand becomes your business-enterprise foundation, from which many new opportunities are likely to grow.