Unbeknownst to some HVAC business owners is the difference between their company’s name and their company’s brand. And it’s too important a dichotomy for a business owner not to realize.
Melanie Tauring, marketing coach manager with Nexstar, said what sets the two apart is cents and sensibility.
“‘Cents’ is a monetary unit … but ‘sense’ is a faculty by which our body perceives something and reacts in a certain way. It’s what we see, hear, taste, smell … and sensibility is our ability to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences.”
Similarly, the name of a company is functional. It serves the needs of a business owner. To Tauring’s point, it makes ‘cents.’ Ads generate money, and a company needs a name for ads. But it doesn’t necessarily make ‘sense’ — those emotional connections. That’s where the brand of the company steps in.
A brand is intentional; it evokes something within people that enters the realm of emotion. Honing in on the company’s brand may just be what’s needed to truly show customers, employees, and potential talent what a company stands for.
Brands Set You Apart
Tauring said that brands can take the mundane out of the ordinary and create loyalty. They set a company apart by helping people identify with that company.
Mckena Harless, strategist at Lemon Seed Marketing, pointed out that most times, people choose a company not because of the name, but because they know what they can expect from the brand of that company.
For example, Harless said, Chick-fil-A is about providing consistent, high-quality products and family experience. One way they do this is that when someone chooses to have Chick-fil-A cater an event, waffle fries are not a part of that experience — because Chick-fil-A knows that fries don’t travel well and it doesn’t meet their standards of consistent high-quality products.
“That’s why instead, they give you potato chips. They don’t want you to be disappointed and associate that with their brand,” Harless said. “The best brands are ones that are truly accurate and paint the picture of what a customer, employee, and investors should expect.”
Another way Chick-fil-A is intentional about its brand is through setting the standard for timely, accurate ordering, and focusing on a family-centric experience.
“Me as a mom, I’m choosing Chick-fil-A because the things that are their brand (quality food, timely and polite service, details my kids love) and that has absolutely nothing to do with their logo,” noted Emily Fleniken, creative director at Lemon Seed Marketing.
Discovering Your Brand
Sometimes, a company may have to change/adapt their brand. Pringles, for example, had the tagline of “Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop” for decades, Tauring said. But recently, they changed the tagline to “Once You Pop, the Fun Don’t Stop.”
“They stayed very close to their brand, but now are speaking to a different generation,” Tauring said.
James Braasch, marketing coach with Nexstar, discussed Domino’s Pizza. In the early ‘90s, Braasch said, Domino’s provided a sense of relief and an emotional connection, specifically to soccer moms.
“Busy families, the kids are on the go, trying to get mom and the family fed. And Domino’s filled that void … But through time, they’ve sort of lost that [emotional] connection. They’ve become more of a technology company,” Braasch said.
In order to bring back that type of emotional connection, or create one, company leaders have to ask themselves some tough questions. They have think about the emotional response they want to generate when someone thinks of them, evaluate mission statements and core values, and truly figure out what type of company they are on the inside, so their brand can communicate that on the outside.
A strong brand is just as important when it comes to finding good talent.
“After all, our job here is to connect emotionally and become part of the fabric of each person with whom you interact — employees and customers,” Braasch said.
Succeeding In Your Brand
LEADERSHIP: Andy and Alexis Aranda are part of the fun at Pure Plumbing. (Courtesy of Natalie & Brandon perez, Studio N Photography)
It’s no secret that the trade industry carries a negative stigma. In reality, the work tradespeople are doing is intricate, delicate, and takes its own set of special training. So when Alexis Aranda, owner and CFO of Pure Plumbing & Air in Las Vegas, Nevada, started the company with her husband Andy, they made it a goal to do business differently: to make the trades cool and hot.
The challenge was that people don’t realize this without a little help from branding. So Aranda started thinking about what was attractive to people like her and her husband, who are clean cut and want to improve the quality of their life.
“In order to do that, we had to create this clean brand that was different than anything else in the marketplace,” Aranda said.
They focused on that branding very early on in the company. Andy, an artist at heart, created the company logo. Then they focused on their work trucks, website, mission statement, and core values. They landed on the mission statement of “Pure Plumbing & Air protects the health of the nation while delivering phenomenal service.”
“We don’t want to just go in and fix, say, the plumbing leak; we want to provide an amazing experience,” Aranda said.
The mission statement had to reflect the intention of Pure Plumbing’s brand. Similarly, so did the core values, which relates to the hardest part Aranda experienced when building Pure Plumbing’s brand — getting people to buy into it.
“We hire for culture and not for technical skills. And our culture are our core values: Service, Growth, Honor, Process, Fun,” she said. “We try to find tradespeople who believe in those core values, too. The hardest part is finding the right people that buy into what we’re doing and want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
“We really wanted to differentiate ourselves and attract really good talent to our company. People who didn’t want to just be checking the truck or rolling around and working hungover. We wanted to be the best in the industry,” Aranda said.
AD IT UP: Pure Plumbing makes the trades hot. (Courtesy of Natalie & Brandon Perez, Studio N Photography)
CFO and owner
Pure Plumbing & Air
Aranda thought long and hard about how to communicate clean-cut work and make the trades ‘hot.’ One of the first things she did was have a professional photoshoot in front of the trucks.
But Aranda didn’t hire just any photographer. She specifically hired a wedding photographer who she knew was capable of capturing beautiful moments.
She staged a photoshoot to capture the leadership and the technicians, those employees who go into customer homes. Now the company had professional, high-resolution images, and Aranda used those images anywhere they were advertising
It created authenticity and it really did differentiate Pure Plumbing from the rest — especially because 10 years ago, everyone was using stock photos that looked the same, Aranda said.
“And then when our technicians would go to people’s houses, they would say, ‘Wow, I saw you on the commercial!’ and it made [customers] more connected to our brand.”
That’s not to say the technicians didn’t fight Aranda tooth and nail initially — until the buzz started and other companies followed suit.
“Everybody would be griping on photoshoot day, saying, ‘This is stupid. Can I please get to my job?’ And I’m not going to say they all love it, but they don’t fight me as much now. They probably have learned to like the attention a little bit more than they would like to admit.”
It made them even more proud to be a part of the company.
“It gave them more respect, attention, and made them feel very professional. So often people fall into the trades … it was their back up plan. Now they can feel professional and respected,” Aranda said.
Pure Plumbing’s branding journey has helped the outfit attract and recruit talent. They now have technicians who seek them out for jobs. They want to be a part of a company that highlights its technicians with a photoshoot and places them on a billboard.
In Pure Plumbing’s experience, customers care more about trust than the cheapest price. Customers have learned to expect, through the brand, a highly trained, clean-cut technician to enter their home.
“We’re changing the image of plumbers and HVAC technicians,” Aranda said — and the brand, not the name, was what made all the difference.