With more than two decades of experience working with clients in the built environment, Chemene Phillips is founder and president of Roseville, California-based branding and marketing agency BRIXBranding. Opinions are the author’s own.
Your potential clients are inundated with choices, so if your brand lacks a distinctive story, you'll struggle to stand out.
A brand story goes beyond the basics of what you do and illustrates why you do it, how you do it and the impact it has on your clients and the world at large. It's your opportunity to give your brand a personality, infuse it with your values and create a deeper connection with your audience.
Despite these benefits, construction companies often overlook storytelling and are instead stuck in a low-bid mentality, relying heavily on their existing connections to serve as their referral pipeline.
While producing quality work will result in referrals, storytelling complements it by giving your work context and a compelling narrative.
By showcasing the types of projects you deliver in a particular area, region or industry, you’re helping potential clients understand your company’s unique capabilities, services and points of difference. This is where many companies in the built environment miss out on an opportunity to stand out in a crowded market.
Storytelling transforms your construction projects into compelling tales of innovation, determination and client satisfaction.
Build lasting impressions
In addition, the competition for labor is fierce in the construction world, making branding and storytelling as important for prospective clients as it is for attracting future employees.
A strong and authentic brand story helps you create a great first impression on social media and your website, leading to better brand recognition and recall. And if potential clients and employees remember your brand, they're more likely to choose you.
By emphasizing the values that underpin every project and celebrating client successes through detailed case studies, you demonstrate that you're not just a transactional service in a crowded market. You're a committed partner invested in your clients' long-term success and milestones.
Creating a brand story that resonates with your target audience and keeps you top of mind when the bidding process begins is a pivotal step in building your construction firm's reputation and attracting the right clients. Here are the building blocks of every successful brand story:
Craft your origin story. Every construction firm has a unique "Once upon a time..." moment that sets it apart. How did your company burst onto the scene? What ignited that initial spark? Your origin story isn't just a backstory — it's the bedrock of your brand, influencing how you conduct business and run your operations.
This compelling beginning creates a narrative only you can tell, weaving through every project and client interaction, distinguishing you in a competitive market.
Define your brand's mission. Your mission is your construction firm's purpose, the "why" behind what you do, and the impact you hope to make. It’s the reason your brand exists in the first place, and this part of your story sets the tone for the rest of your brand identity.
Create your brand values. Your core values are the guiding principles that govern your actions, decisions and interactions with clients and stakeholders. Consider incorporating the story of how your firm's mission and values were established and how they've evolved over time.
Some examples of values might be accuracy, communication, integrity, reliability and safety. If you need help determining your core values, ask yourself: What do we value as a company and what do our clients value in us?
Identify your unique selling proposition. Every great brand has a solid USP that weaves through their entire story. Your USP is the brand superpower that makes you different from everyone else. It's what your clients can only get from you — your secret sauce. This is the part of your story that outlines, "What sets you apart and makes you untouchable by the competition?"
Create client personas. The best brand stories forge strong emotional connections between the brand and audience. To achieve this, you’ll need a clear picture of who your audience is.
Develop client personas to represent the various types of clients you serve, so you can tell your story in a way that truly resonates with your target audience.
Leverage client pain points. Your brand story should directly address the challenges that your clients face. Identify the most common pain points among your target clients, then emphasize how your services alleviate them and provide tangible benefits and a return on investment.
Craft an authentic narrative. Brand storytelling ensures you create not just any story, but one that truly reflects your firm. Share authentic anecdotes and experiences that have shaped your firm through messaging and case studies. Be transparent about your firm's growth journey, including both successes and challenges.
Look toward the future. Finally, your brand story should provide a glimpse into the future. What's your vision? Where do you see your construction firm heading? Your audience should leave your story with a sense of excitement and anticipation for what's to come, as well as a desire to be a part of it.