October 11, 2022
Who are you? And do people know? If you’re running a business, you have a brand whether or not you even have a logo. It’s incredibly important to not just focus on and take control of your branding, but to make sure it actually reflects who you are as a culture. We’re excited to have Ryan Kettering, founder of Prolific Brand Design on To The Point to talk about the power of branding and what you really need to understand as a business owner to truly dominate in your market! Even if you’re just starting out and all you’ve got is a logo your nephew drew on his iPhone, you definitely want to tune in for this.
Ryan finished high school in 3 years and at the age of 17, immediately started his own business. He had always had a thing for graphics growing up, but he didn’t know how to make money out of art – so he did what he knew he could make money doing. That was a carpet cleaning business. He got listed in the yellow pages and was ready to roll. He learned a lot about what to do and what not to do over the years and ran his company from 2005-2015.
Early on while running his business, Ryan was banging his head against the wall trying to understand how to drive sales. Once he started figuring that out and was generating leads, things picked up nicely for him. Still, he noticed something. Every business in the same space looked the same. Everyone was saying the same things, acting the same, and walking the same…and it got him thinking. How will a customer know who to choose as the right service provider if everyone looks the same?
“How will a customer know who to choose as the right service provider if everyone looks the same?”
Ryan realized there was a good opportunity here to focus on branding. He had always networked with other business owners and, as he was helping them with branding, started to realize that this was something worth pursuing. He worked for a time until he could make a full transition into branding, moved from Illinois to Phoenix, and started Prolific Brand Design in 2015.
When Ryan started, it was just him. Now, his team is eight full-time employees and three incredible brand designers. They’ve served a lot of spaces in the home services industry as well as cleaning, garage doors, concrete, and other trades businesses. Over seven years and counting, they’ve served well over 2,000 clients by Ryan’s estimates.
COVID taught the home services industry a lot of lessons – some good ones and some really tough ones as well. If your branding wasn’t great during the pandemic, you probably felt the pain of poor brand equity. Ryan points out that if there are 100 jobs in your market, it’s usually one guy getting 80 of them. When a recession happens, and that number drops to 20, it’s the same guy who gets them all, and none are left for the others. That single business is the preferred vendor.
That’s the entire goal of branding. To become the preferred vendor in your market. Ryan saw this very thing happen during the pandemic, and really stopped doing any marketing services and focused only on branding. There were great brands that still needed a lot of work and hadn’t quite reached their potential to connect with their market and solidify their brand presence. The smart companies used the pandemic to gain market share, while the others that didn’t plan ahead with their branding fell to the wayside.
A customer will almost always choose their preferred brand, even when there is additional pain. By pain, we mean factors like higher cost, more waiting time, and so on. There is a limit, of course, but being the preferred vendor in your market makes you the king of the castle. But is a great brand all that’s needed? According to Ryan, you also need to have awareness of your brand.
Ryan loves to say, “great brands will still die in the dark.” If no one knows about you, it doesn’t matter how great your brand is! Branding is imperative, but awareness can actually offset a weak brand. There are big companies with underwhelming brands that are successful simply because of the frequency with which they are getting their name out there. People trust what they know, after all. The best thing to do is have both. Have that great brand and awareness, and that’s when you can really kick into high gear.
If you’re thinking, okay, great, but what makes a great brand? In addition to having a brand that accurately reflects who you are and making sure people are actually seeing that, what should they see? It’s not just about figuring out if your logo should be a mascot or text, it’s about understanding the core concepts of great branding. Ryan breaks it down into three key components and one “bonus” one that may or may not be needed. The main thing to remember here is that all of this should be presented in a way that is consistent with who you are.
“Wow” with your brand is about grabbing attention. This is the most important piece because if you don’t have the attention of your audience, they simply won’t care about the rest of your message. Great branding “wows” the audience.
So you’ve “wowed” your audience. You have their attention. Who are you? Who just captured their attention?
Now you have their attention, and they know who you are…what can you do for them? What is the service you’re providing? What is it you can deliver that will improve their life or make them happy?
In some cases, great branding also has a way of getting in contact with you. Depending on your brand awareness and presence, it may or may not really be needed as part of your typical branding visual (i.e., truck wraps). If your iPhone isn’t working, you’re probably not going to struggle with figuring out how to find an Apple store or their website.
A lot of businesses struggle with knowing when to work on their brand. Ryan suggests that if you’re even thinking about it, it’s the right time. Great companies invest in their brand, and great brands are still continuously re-evaluated. Even Pepsi spends millions of dollars every 5-10 years making small branding changes and revisiting whether its brand accurately reflects its business and if it’s achieving the market presence they are aiming for.
The thing to remember is that you need to “dress for success,” as Ryan puts it. You wouldn’t show up to a big formal event in jeans and smelly t-shirt, right? People do buy books by their covers. If your “book” (business, in this case) has a tattered cover jacket and outdated visuals…why would you expect someone to buy it?
If you’re interested in rebranding or taking a look at what Ryan and his team can do for your business, we have a special offer for you! Schedule a call with Travis Kettering at Prolific Brand Design and mention the podcast and get $500 off any branding package!