In the world of branding and design, we often have several projects going for businesses within the same industry. Clients want to know how we are going to make their website, logo, etc. different (“better”) than their perceived competition. It’s a great question… one we’ll strive to answer here.
First, it’s important to understand what a brand idea is and how branding helps communicate it. A “brand idea” is the simple essence of how your company is perceived. It’s all of the mental associations that surface when people think of you, boiled down to the one thing that makes your company special and different. “Branding” is all of the things you do to get your brand idea out to the market. It’s your website, advertising, print collateral–the list goes on.
Regardless of the business or industry, we ask the same question of every client: How is your brand perceived by the market? If there’s any uncertainty, we ask our client’s clients and their potential target market. It’s crucial to understand the brand idea from the public’s perspective because as business owners, it’s like reading the paper an inch from our face. Getting an outside view of things helps us to remain objective and see our business through our market’s eyes.
Once we understand the brand idea and differentiating factors, we look at how the business is positioned relative to their competition. Is the product or service considered a premium or is it a value-based brand? Who comprises the target market? Are they families, retirees, or a small niche of shoppers? By marrying the brand idea with deliberate positioning, the “branding”–all of the tools to get the brand out there–naturally defines each business uniquely from their competition.
To illustrate this concept, Studio Absolute recently worked with three businesses in the same industry although each was very different from the next. Builders and home designers, New Era Homes, Larranetta & Co. and Groza Construction came to Studio Absolute for help refining and communicating their brands. By simply scanning the yellow pages (online, of course), one would assume these three businesses were in competition, but in reality, their brand ideas and target market was vastly different from one another. By defining this in their branding, each business is now able to address the needs of their unique consumers and avoid the generalization trap of attempting to be all things to all people.
Brian explains how proper positioning in front of his target market helped Groza Construction realize the benefits of deliberate branding.
“We approached Studio Absolute as we had determined the marketing information that we had for our company was not truly reflecting the majority of the types of homes that we were building. We had developed a strong presence in a select niche of contemporary design and our current branding reflected a more classical theme.
Studio Absolute did a fantastic job of expressing our target market with our new branding, evidenced by rave reviews in our initial unveiling to a large group of architects touring one of our featured homes. We further reinforced this brand with an updated website that has also given us many favorable comments from prospective clients and architects that have seen the site.
In our field the return on investment is often difficult to measure, but I am confident that our new branding has played a key role in at least one new project on our books, which easily warrants the cost outlay for the work.”
Groza Construction Logo Shown on a Business Card
As Brian mentioned, Groza Construction appeals to a select niche of contemporary design and his clients are willing and able to pay a premium for his craft. New Era Homes appeals to families and retirees that want the most home for their money and are seeking unparalleled quality at a price they can afford. Larrenetta & Co. stands for extreme attention to detail and customization for life-time homes. Each of these qualities is now represented in every aspect of their branding–from the detail in their logo design, to the functionality and design of their website. Even the content of their website and print is designed to speak directly to their specific audience while further differentiating each builder from their competition.
Your company’s brand already exists in people’s minds. Deliberate branding allows you to be proactive in the shaping of that perception and remove your business from commodity status. In doing so, you make it easy for future clients to say “yes” to choosing your business over the competition.
by Cheryl McIntosh, Principal + Brand Manager Studio Absolute
Big ideas on a paper napkin are our favorite concepts to bring to life. When we sat down with Dr. Julie Panchura, the vision was broad but the goal was clear: Connect businesses to customers, volunteers to non-profits, and create a social and economic win-win-win.
Dr. Panchura invited Studio Absolute to name and create a brand identity, propose a monetization plan, and design and build a website to serve as a hub for this philanthropic community. Out of Dr. Panchura’s vision for a streamlined “Pay It Forward” movement, came www.kahoot.org.
How it works:
1. Set up a volunteer profile and download vouchers.
2. Contact one of the affiliate businesses to establish details of the offer.
3. Volunteer with a participating nonprofit in exchange for a discounted rate with the business affiliate. The non-profit will validate the voucher.
As a business affiliate, Studio Absolute assigns a value of $20 to each volunteer hour and applies that towards the cost of website design, branding strategy and design services. The customer simply searches kahoot.org for design services in Bend, contacts us to confirm the details, then after donating their volunteer hours, Studio Absolute will redeem their vouchers.
We feel like this is a great opportunity to make our services more accessible to small businesses while encouraging a spirit of volunteerism within our community. We hope you’ll join us in setting up a profile for your business or non-profit, or search the growing database for affiliates offering significant discounts in exchange for your volunteer time.
Lenity Group Brings a Fresh Approach to Senior Housing Planning & Design
2010 Marked a new beginning for Lenity Group, a Salem-based senior-housing planning and design firm. Principals, Kristin Newland, Marcus Hite, and Dan Roach, AIA took the helm after Cliff Curry, a long-time Salem and Bend resident, retired in December from his role as President of Curry Architecture.
Curry founded Curry Architecture nearly 30 years ago. Together with partners such as Holiday Retirement and Colson & Colson General Contractor, Inc., Curry and his team built a legacy in the senior living industry launching over 350 successful senior housing facilities during his career.
Lenity Group provides a simplified approach to senior housing development by offering planning, design, architecture, engineering and construction services under one roof. The firm employs 15 staff including architects, a professional engineer, draftspersons, land use and permit specialists, a senior title officer, construction administrators, and support staff.
Lenity Group provides a simplified approach to senior housing development by offering planning, architecture, design, and construction services under one roof. The firm currently employs 15 staff including architects, a professional engineer, draftspersons, land use and permit specialists, a senior title officer, construction administrators, and support staff. They also partner with the Tumalo-based branding and graphic design firm, Studio Absolute, to establish a competitive and unique brand for each new senior living facility. Seeing to these details sets Lenity Group apart as full service planning and design firm.
“The skill set, experience, and longevity of our team in the senior living industry allows us to move through the details with agility. From initial negations through construction, the process is completely streamlined. Our 30-year industry partnerships make it possible to offer comprehensive services with very competitive pricing for our clients.” Kristin Newland, Principal.
Lenity Group partnered with the Bend-based branding and graphic design firm, Studio Absolute, to launch their new name, brand identity, and website. You can visit the new Lenity Group website at, or contact Kristin Newland at Kristin@lenitygroup.com or 503-399-1090 for more information.
Talk about a whirlwind! I know I will look back at this time of my life as the most insanely busy, but also some the most exciting years.
1. The business cards were officially in my hand. THANK YOU Ryder Graphics – you guys are my favorite people right now! They did such a great job, and Kyle Hawkins has just been awesome to work with.
2. The website went live and looks fantastic! There are still a few updates to make, but I imagine it will evolve and morph a lot over the next year. THANK YOU Greg for doing an incredible job on the programming, and THANK YOU Russ for designing this gorgeous site, and THANK YOU Benjamin, Paula, and Jen for the freaking awesome photography. You guys are the cream of the crop. www.studioabsolute. com – check it out!!
3. The last two months of working with Let’s Make a Space on their marketing and creative culminated with an “absolutely” incredible VIP Party. We had about 160 special guests in their new retail location. The blue drinks were flowing, the music was pounding, and the gorgeous fem-bots put on a runway style furniture fashion show that was out of this world! Guests left saying they’d expect to attend a party like this in San Fransisco – not Bend, Oregon. Pictures and video forthcoming!!
After everyone left, we spent a few hours just hanging out with the Let’s Make a Space team and making sure that no open bottles of champagne went to waste. There was uncontrollable laughter, blue-drink-induced-dancing, and even an unexpected wrestling match that ended with one broken champagne flute and a fat lip. Not mine, as much as I probably deserved it! Sorry Joey – I love you.
So tomorrow morning was supposed to be the much anticipated grand opening, but alas, the city inspector couldn’t come to sign off on the new facility for reasons unknown. Today was a lesson in reverse publicity – how quickly can we get the word out that: NO, the store will NOT be open tomorrow. But at the same time – we’ve got to carry the existing momentum and excitement over to next Saturday. Our success depends on how that message is delivered – even the tone of the announcement must remain consistent with the Let’s Make a Space brand. It has to breathe excitement, drama, entertainment, and surprise! And you know what, Blog? It was simple because their brand speaks for itself. Their business model is built around suspense, surprise, and radical change, so the drama behind the grand opening is actually to our benefit. We’re going to take this extra week before next Saturday, and leverage the drama to create even more buzz and curiosity. It’ll be perfect. I’m excited.