by Brian M. Fraley
The 4th of July holiday is associated with family vacations, parades, barbecues, and fireworks, but the true significance of the holiday is to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of America as a free nation. It is also meant to recognize the men and women of our armed forces that have sacrificed so much to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy today.
So how did the American brand come to be the most revered, timeless, and widely recognized brand in the world and how can you use those lessons to enhance the brand of your business. The American brand evokes strong emotions; no other brand can bring tears to the eyes of its believers. The concept of America is intrinsically wired into the American brand. The loyalty to the brand originated with the immigrants that arrived on our shores and carried though to future generations.
While a country and a business have many differences, they bear many similarities. The core principles defining the formation of a strong brand are consistent and there is much to be learned by trying to emulate the unrivaled American brand.
Consistent Use of a Powerful Symbol
Every strong brand requires a symbol that is used consistently over time. It would be difficult to identify a more globally recognized symbol than the American Flag. It is known in even the most isolated civilizations across the globe. While variations of the flag have been used, the red, white, and blue color scheme is associated with America around the world. In business, we use a logo and a certain color combination that best reflects the firm. In addition to creating a logo that properly reflects your company’s history, culture, and expertise, you must use the logo consistently over time in order to brand yourself in the marketplace. Repetition is key. The way you use your logo in print and digital formats must be sacred. If it will not reproduce properly in a certain application, don’t use it.
Effective Slogans Strengthen the Brand
There have been several slogans associated with America including “America the Beautiful,” “In God We Trust,” “E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One),” and “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.” All of the above define the culture of the country and are used by our citizenry to rally around the American brand. In corporate America, we use a slogan or tagline, which is a brief statement that defines your business, or product or service offering. It should be relevant, brief, and memorable. And it should be one that your employees are proud to represent. While a slogan is not essential, the proper combination of words can bring added strength to a brand.
Who are Your Brand Patriots?
The term “Patriot” originated during the American Revolution and included rebels from a diverse array of social, economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds that were committed to escaping British control. Perhaps the most famous Patriot associated with the American Revolution was Paul Revere who rode across Massachusetts on horseback and literally went door to door to warn his fellow citizens that the British troops were coming. Paul Revere accepted the danger of his mission and was ultimately captured by the British.
Who are your Brand Patriots? They can be employees or satisfied clients. These Brand Patriots build your brand through their actions and positive word of mouth because they believe in your mission. They are the lynchpin that holds your business together. Ask yourself continually whether you are still earning their loyalty. Are they still waving your flag and feeling “Patriotic” about your brand?
The Declaration of Independence adds to the mystique and provides a historical link to the value of the American brand. This document commemorated the escape from British rule and the birth of the United States as a free nation. This document was a reflection of the passionate speeches, fierce debates, and bloody battles. Much effort has gone to promote this as a sacred document in museums and historic venues across the U.S. Not to mention, there has been extensive literature published to educate generations of Americans on the significance of the Declaration of Independence and the events surrounding it.
While the story of your company and its history is not as compelling as the freedom of a nation, there is a story that must be told properly to elevate the power of your brand. There are some great legacies behind many firms in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry. What makes your firm unique? Now take that aspect and use it to add value to your brand. This aspect should be incorporated into your Marketing materials, your media publicity, and all outgoing materials on your firm. Use it internally as well. Give your employees a concept to rally around. Was your founder an immigrant with an empty wallet and a dream, or a member of a minority group? Was your company founded during a difficult economy? Most people appreciate stories of perseverance in the face of adversity and it has a way of creating unity. In the case of the American Revolution, citizens united against foreign occupation.
Develop Meaningful Traditions and Customs
The American brand is also built on the use of deeply rooted customs and traditions. We wear red, white, and blue, fly the American flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and sing the National Anthem just to name a few. Most of these traditions celebrate historical events and milestones and create unity and pride among the American people.
Strengthening the brand of your business can also be accomplished through customs and traditions. The repetition of traditions can build comradery and morale among your employees, while increasing the standing of your brand in the eyes of your employees. One effective method is to host an off-site team building retreat. You might also consider a strategic planning process that allows your employees to work in teams to address the various aspects of your business. The Strategic Planning process should be employed annually; it’s not necessarily a once and done process. Other ideas include hosting an open house to commemorate a significant anniversary, new location, or new product line. Look for opportunities to bring your team together and they will be converted into Brand Patriots.
Fortify and Understand Your Brand
No business-related brand will ever rival the American brand. The extensive history, passion, and mass appeal of a nation like the United States is impossible to replicate. The core principles described above, however, can build and fortify your brand if properly implemented.
Take advantage of this 4th of July holiday to reflect on the true meaning of the American brand and the men and women that have sacrificed their lives to preserve it. Then take a moment to reflect on the state of your own firm’s brand. How strong is your brand? Who are your Brand Patriots? If you can answer affirmatively to these questions, be thankful, but never grow complacent when it comes to your brand.
Fraley AEC Solutions, LLC has been launched to provide Marketing and Public Relations services to the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry in Pennsylvania and the surrounding region. The firm was founded by Brian M. Fraley, who has been providing Marketing and Business Development solutions within the AEC sector for more than 20 years. Starting his career in a construction and industrial advertising firm, he served as editor of a regional Highway/Heavy Construction trade publication, Marketing Director for a statewide transportation construction association, and Director of Marketing and Business Development for a civil engineering firm.
“There are many firms that provide Marketing and Public Relations services, but they lack the in-depth knowledge of the AEC sector,” says Fraley. “This is an industry with a unique language, history, personality, and way of conducting business. Fraley AEC Solutions was formed to cater to this underserved and often misunderstood marketplace.”
No stranger to the start-up environment, Fraley started his career with a small family-owned construction advertising agency in Bucks County, Pa. “One thing that has not changed in 20 years is that firms in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction sector must differentiate themselves with effective Marketing practices,” Fraley explained. “That need has been exacerbated due to a number of paradigm shifts that are currently underway from the technology revolution to the emergence of the next generation of management. Fraley AEC Solutions has the historical knowledge of the industry, which will be necessary to help our clients to adapt to current and future industry shifts.”