Build the Brand Identity
A lawn care company turns to you write some copy for them. It's a new business so they want you to help them build their brand. Where do you start?
An effective brand is more than just the words and images you might find in a logo or tagline. It implies a unique benefit that the customer can only get by purchasing that particular product or service. So your first job is to find out exactly what it is that makes your client's lawn care service unique and meaningful to its customers. You then have to capture that essence in all the marketing materials you subsequently create.
Isn't the brand just the logo?
When we think of a brand, one of the first things that comes to mind is the logo. This can be represented as an image, a stylized word or phrase, or a combination of both. But this is just the tip of the spear in the overall brand strategy. A brand is actually a whole series of images and messages that convey what is special about a product or service to its target audience.
Where do you begin? The best place to start is to use one of the following tools to determine what it is about the brand that makes it special — or could make it special — to customers.
Stand Out with a USP
The unique selling proposition, or USP, was first coined by advertising legend Rosser Reeves in his 1961 book Reality In Advertising. According to Reeves, a USP has these three characteristics:
1. The marketing message makes a proposition to the prospect. It says that if you buy the product or service, you will get this specific benefit in return.
2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer.
3. The proposition must be so strong that it will motivate a significant amount of the target audience to buy the product or service. (In other words, it will motivate more than just the low hanging fruit.)
Reeves' insights into a successful USP gives copywriters a handy tool for creating a powerful brand message — or just about any other type of sales message for that matter.
For our lawn care company, the number one benefit — the unique proposition — might be a weed-free lawn without the use of dangerous pesticides or herbicides. If the local competition doesn't offer organic lawn care services, then this would satisfy both the first and second conditions of our USP.
But what about the third requirement? Is chemical-free lawn care enough of a benefit to convince a lot of people to sign up for the service? It could be. Especially if the neighborhood has a lot of families with small children and pets. Homeowners might be concerned about the effect of pesticides and herbicides. So organic lawn care could be a desirable alternative.
So the USP could be: “A healthy, green, weed-free lawn without using pesticides or herbicides that may harm your family or pets.”
Connecting healthy lawns to family health and safety, the major theme of the brand could be: “Healthy lawns. Healthy families.”
Get CAT-y with Positioning Statements
Another strategy you can use to build the foundation for a strong brand is to use a positioning statement. A positioning statement is like staking a claim. It's often about getting there first. When M&M's claimed that their candies “melt in your mouth, not in your hand,” the company was staking a claim. It's not like other candies don't have the same characteristic. Many do. But M&M's got there first. They struck a nerve with coated candy eaters everywhere who were sick of sticky hands!
There is a simple formula for creating an effective positioning statement. It's called CAT.
This formula is very simple to use. When writing a positioning statement for a company or product, begin with the category, state one or two key advantages — preferably something that the competition doesn't do — and then focus on the target audience.
For our lawn care company, our positioning statement could be: “Our lawn care service [category] is the only one in town that offers chemical-free lawn care [advantage] to families that care about health, safety, and the environment [target audience].”