Why Branding Matters
Written by Randy Blount
January 16, 2022
For many working in contracting and construction, the idea of branding may solidly land in the category of "nice to have," rather than "need to have." Often, the assumption is that branding doesn’t matter in the Dirt World: Bids are what win the work, and good work leads to referrals. If that system’s working, why do you need to worry about your brand?
The fact is that you have a brand, whether or not you actively work on shaping it. What your customers, local communities, and potential employees see on your job sites informs their view of you as a company and an employer: Is the equipment well maintained? Is any necessary signage clear? How do your employees interact with passersby or visitors to the site?
Blount — and his workers — take pride in the fact that Blount Contracting job sites are polished, well kept, and look good. “I don't want to come off arrogant at all, but like, we're outperforming the industry,” Blount said. “So it must not be hurting us.”
People who say branding doesn’t matter, Blount finds, are often the same people who complain that they can’t find people, and certainly not enough younger people, to work for them. Coincidence? Perhaps not.
Building a brand — on purpose.
Finance major Blount still remembers the branding discussions in his college marketing classes. It occurred to him that establishing a brand didn’t really happen in construction. Would it work? He decided to give it a try: starting by being consistent in the use of colors, themes, branded shirts, hard hats. This branding carries through to the stories Blount Contracting tells and the proposals it submits.
Blount said he can’t count the number of times these consistent branding efforts have made a difference. A strong brand is a combination of visuals, care, and consistency. Blount can point to three primary drivers of the Blount Contracting brand:
- Their hard hats are gray, not white. On most jobs, the Blount supervisor can ID his crew simply by the color of their hard hats. This is not only good branding, but it has a safety component. Blount teams also can ID each other on the job using this simple visual.
- They wear high-visibility yellow branded shirts. An alternative is to wear a Blount-branded vest. Blount has seen social media posts with photos from job sites where a worker is wearing a competitor’s vest. As he asked, why would you do that? Advertising for your competitor costs your company a lot more than a $20 vest.
- Most obvious, perhaps, is their use of the color gray. They paint all their equipment gray. With its distinctive gray coloring, half a mile away, you can identify a Blount Contracting job site.
All of these efforts help to create a brand that can give you exponentially greater reach. It identifies your work without your having to say a word.
The benefits of a powerful brand.
Branding is not only about visibility on job sites. There’s also a workforce development component. When you’re looking for workers, you’re not just competing within the dirt world. You’re competing with any employer with an attractive workplace and brand.
Young people, especially, want to be proud of where they work. Construction companies with solid brands may well see more applications, which can lead to attracting and retaining the right people. When Blount Contracting was acquired, a main concern was what would happen to the brand? It was that important to the organization and its people.
“We, on a consistent basis, are perceived as doing more work than anybody. I hear it all the time,” said Blount. “‘You guys are everywhere. Man, you guys do a lot of work. Like how's business doing? I see you everywhere.’” With comments like that, there’s no question that Blount Contracting is top of mind.
A client’s project manager in Phoenix drove by a bridge where Blount Contracting was drilling and sent the photo with a message: “The gray equipment looks great up here.” To have a client’s PM stop to take a photo means that the image is a memorable one. “I'm pretty sure when he needs something drilled or shored or excavated, we're gonna be one of the first calls,” said Blount.
It may be easy to say that branding in the dirt world is not important, but Blount Contracting provides a compelling case that just the opposite is true: that establishing a brand goes a long way toward distinguishing your company — and increasing its attractiveness—both for clients and for potential employees.
As Blount said, “Is it easy? No. Does it cost money? Yes.” But he also believes that the effectiveness of their branding helps get his company onto the short list when bidding on jobs. He admits he’s attached to their branding efforts because he’s proud of the brand and that he has a bias toward believing that the external perception of his company is better because of the brand.
There’s plenty of evidence in the marketplace that even the construction industry is going in only one direction: where branding becomes more important and plays a larger role in attracting the next generation of dirt world workers.
For example, there’s no question that tech, as an employer, is perceived as cool. As an industry, construction is competing with a wide variety of companies and industries that offer amazing benefits and treat their employees well. Your company needs a strong, yes, even cool, brand to help potential workers see the value in getting out and building something every day.
Randy and Aaron talk about the importance of branding your contracting company and how you can stand out from the competition, both to your customers and potential employees.
Written by Randy Blount
January 16, 2022