One of the things that we emphasize a lot is consistency in branding. For some brands, particularly those with physical locations, the experience is everything. And consistency in that experience is critical. Whether customers realize it or not, they are impacted by the environment around them – that environment should embody the brand.
Think about a restaurant franchise. The neighborhood it’s in, what the building looks like and the atmosphere when you walk in the door are sometimes as important as what the food tastes like. Olive Garden was recently in the news for updating their look to what they call Via Tuscany. Soon you’ll be able to walk into an Olive Garden anywhere in the country and it will look the same as any other, right down to the pattern on the planter boxes and the fabric on the booths. McDonald’s locations are getting a makeover too. Expect to start seeing wood tables and the same warm paint colors and accessories at most McDonald’s locations. These kinds of renovations are becoming a trend with restaurants trying to update their look to seem more open and inviting. If you’re a building materials company, you should realize that the architects, specifiers and interior designers for these franchises influence purchase decisions.
The same is true for retail stores and hotels. Apple started to remodel several of its stores back in 2009. Now, whether you’re in SoHo or Las Vegas you’ll see the same white walls, wood floors and maple tables. Maybe Apple made those choices on their own, but it’s very likely that someone was telling them that maple table would help complete the brand. The physical attributes of the location don’t have to be exactly the same to look and feel the same either. Hotels are great at this. The Courtyard by Marriott, for example, uses the same colors and similar fabrics and furnishings to create a unified brand environment.
Even brands that you wouldn’t normally think of as physical locations sometimes are. College sports teams are a good example. I spent two years making carpet, tile and paint decisions for the University of Nebraska Athletic Department. You may not think about it while you are at the game, but the paint on the wall is customized to match the exact color of the players’ jerseys. You may not notice that the carpet and tile are the same in the basketball facility as they are at the football stadium. But they are. Nebraska is touted as being among the top athletic facilities in the country, partly due to this kind of planning and attention to managing the University of Nebraska brand.
Brand management should be top of mind for the construction industry. In constructing a building, you are contributing to a brand experience. Know the brand you are contributing to before you start. Then use brand management principles to ensure the end result is “on brand”.