The history of branding what you own dates back at least to ancient Egypt. Ancient Romans used special branding symbols that were often associated with a magic spell designed to protect their livestock from being harmed.
The word “brand” was originally defined as anything that was hot or burning. Hot branding irons would burn a symbol into the hides of livestock to clearly identify the animal’s owner, thus allowing multiple ranches to share the same grazing land. And that’s what branding allows you to do, metaphorically speaking: to share the same grazing land as your competitors.
By grazing land, I mean the town, neighborhood or market territory you draw work from. Your brand is what will clearly distinguish your business from your competitors’ brands. And some do branding much better than others.
We often come across shops that don’t have a logo; they just use their name. But shouldn’t we take a page out of the playbooks of the biggest companies in the world and have an identifiable logo? True, we can’t hire focus groups and do in-depth research before we create our logos; that just costs too much money. But we can still come up with something simple and eye-catching that people will identify as yours that you can use on your website and social media accounts, along with your shop signage, shirts, uniforms, letterhead and forms. Many of you already have done that.
A logo catches the visual eye. Now it’s time to tie that to who you really are and what you stand for.
What’s your value proposition? Everyone says “quality,” “trust,” “experience,” blah blah blah. The public has seen it all before. So, what’s different about you? What voice does your brand have over and above the usual? What are your core values? Is it mobile estimating? Free rental cars? Free pickup and delivery? A kiddie play area on the premises to be used during estimates and pickups? An espresso bar? Flowers with every car you deliver? Your community involvement? These are all things tied to your brand that become associated with you because they’re memorable. People remember them and talk about them and mention them in reviews.
To find your brand’s voice, a great place to start is by listening to your customers. What are they saying about you? Are they going to talk about your awesome easy-bake spraybooth? Your new welder? Your new bench? If any of your customers has, please tell me; I’d love to hear it for myself. No, what do they really say in notes they write you? Reviews they leave for you? Comments they make on Facebook? These will give you clues on what your perceived business voice is and how people perceive your brand. If you don’t like it, you’ve got work to do to change it.
Perhaps you know of another shop in a market you don’t compete with that does things you like. It’s OK to emulate them; just do it with unique copy so it’s truly yours.
It’s How You Say It
The voice of your brand needs to be carefully considered and then consistently spoken in all areas. This builds trust, establishes your business personality and communicates why you’re different than the rest of the body shops in town. It helps persuade people to do business with you. It should be clearly understood, and implemented, by everyone on your team. It should be established during job interviews and reinforced on a new hire’s first day. Someone needs to be responsible for monitoring the voice of your brand and making sure that it’s maintained in all areas, including on your website and social media accounts.
Use Choice Pronouns
The trend in copywriting these days is to stray away from being so focused on what you do and gravitate toward what you will do for your customer. Examples:
OLD: We have the friendliest staff who are highly trained to handle every detail of the repair process.
NEW: You’ll love our friendly team who will take your concerns and lay them to rest, ensuring your total satisfaction during the entire repair process.
See the difference? This works especially well for your millennial customers, often referred to as “Generation Me.” That figures, right?
Your Voice Online
Potential customers for a body shop are turning to their mobile devices to get instant access to information about whatever they’re looking for. In your case, they want to know who offers auto body repair, what their reviews are saying and then get direction on what to do next. They’re increasingly doing this in a series of micro-moments. They spend an average of less than a minute on a body shop website. Therefore, your voice needs to be clear, concise and in line with your brand’s voice everywhere. That should prompt reviews from people who will say what you’re projecting in your business. This is called “earned media,” something you don’t pay for because someone else is saying it for you. That’s when you know your brand’s voice is truly hitting home.