Building Trust: Why branding matters in the construction sector

David O'Hearns
29 January, 24

Although facing the same challenges as other sectors last year, the construction industry remains in demand. But unlike other industries, construction cannot be dispensed with or replaced by cheaper, AI-driven or automated alternatives. Consequently, branding isn’t something that construction companies have historically paid much attention to. But should they?

Branding is about building an identity for a business. It can help drive market share, build trust, and increase sales, cementing your place in the minds of your target audience. In an industry that doesn’t focus as heavily as others on brand, there is a massive opportunity for businesses to tap into that potential, gaining immediate advantage over competitors, and becoming instantly recognisable – not just locally, but globally.

Why should the construction industry care about branding?

Typically, brands in the construction industry are more inconsistent than others in how they present themselves to the world. It’s not uncommon for construction sites to have multiple different logos and colours on their hoarding, vehicles, and machinery. At a glance, you could be looking at three different companies, when it’s just one. But construction companies could build consistency, trust, and recognisability by having a unified identity.

“If a prospect sees the lack of consistency,” says Oli Furze, Head of Design at Dawn, “do they start to think that the company might be haphazard in their approach to their work? Maybe they don’t pay attention to detail? Even if this is a subconscious thought in the minds of prospective customers, in a competitive field like construction, it could be the difference between winning and losing a contract against your competitor”. And that’s why branding matters.

Identifying and maximising branding potential

When it comes to branding, construction companies usually have a natural advantage over other industries. The hoarding and the signage displayed when a project takes place are so prominent that people are forced to look at your brand when walking around their city. It’s one of the only industries where you present your brand clearly, visually, and alongside the physical proof of your skills on work sites. With that in mind, it makes sense to take good care of how you’re perceived and make sure you stand out from your competitors. If you’ve got a strong brand, people will be far more likely to remember you when they think of their next project. You never know who’s looking out of their office window, or walking past, and will take note.

But construction companies can’t rely solely on observation and word of mouth.  Customers no longer simply act based on visual evidence – they research. This is why the lack of a strong digital presence – throughout the industry – is concerning.

Some construction companies have an eye for physical branding. However, few look beyond the physical aesthetic. So, even if the uniforms, vehicles, and equipment look consistent and present the brand well, their digital presence usually doesn’t match the same standards.

“We’re talking about their website, social media, emails etc.,” says Will Tarpey, Head of Digital Design at Dawn. “As construction is primarily a face-to-face, physical industry, the focus of most companies is always in the ‘real world’ instead of digital. There’s a clear de-prioritisation of digital, as the people in these industries are rarely online in their day jobs, so it’s not a focus for them. However, that can be the difference between winning bids or not.

“The first thing the prospect will do if they’ve seen something that might appeal to them in the physical space is Google the company to check their website or social media and assess their credentials. It’s a natural progression from physical into digital, and the transition should be smooth.

“If your digital touchpoints aren’t up to the same standard, the same point stands. It might be subconscious, but it’s giving off a feeling of low standards and a lack of attention to detail, which is the last thing a construction company wants to be known for. It’s probably not the case at all, but why not make sure no one feels that way, even if their first impressions aren’t representative of the quality of their work?”

And part of garnering the best first impression is through your chosen tone of voice.

How to speak to your audience, in a way they understand

Tone, for any brand, needs to focus on accessibility. While professionalism is key, you can’t risk alienating your potential audience through inappropriate or incomprehensible language. And this is a trait you tend to see everywhere, across all sectors, with all copy and communication peppered with specialist terms and phrases, understood only by people in the industry.

The problem is that your audience probably won’t speak your language in most cases. So, you must address this and adopt more accessible language, especially in marketing materials. So, rather than boasting a provision of “£5 million public liability insurance”, you could offer your customers “Peace of mind that if anything unexpected happens, you won’t have to pay a penny to fix it”.  Of course, you’ll need to add the details in the fine print, but that’s not the role of marketing. Customer connection and understanding are first and foremost in all branding exercises, helping ensure that the business and the customer work from the same level.  This is even more important in a market like construction, where specialist terminology is everywhere.

Where do you start if you want to improve your brand?

Before you can improve your brand, you first have to assess your current status. What do you have now? Is it consistent?  And what are you missing? Look at the customer journey. If someone were to call the number on a van, what would they be greeted with? Is the company voicemail message on-brand? Is your hold music the standard twinkly track, or could you change it to something more on-brand? Is your website working the way it should? Do you look and feel the same as everyone else in the industry? What are your points of differentiation that could be used to make you stand out?

Once you’ve done that, it’s a good idea to call in the experts so your brand becomes the best it can be. A brand workshop can help you determine what we call the “Brand Core”. In other words, what you stand for, your values and your purpose. Too often, this is viewed as the “fluffy stuff” that doesn’t matter to a company. But this is used to craft a brand’s visual identity and build out the assets that will take your company to the next level.

Get in touch with the team at Dawn if you want to ensure your brand is better than your competitors, so you can win more work, grow, and work on bigger and better projects.

David O’Hearns, founder and MD at Dawn, a creative agency on a mission to rid the world of bad design and poor communication.

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