Building a Brand, One Customer at a Time

By Lora Sharp

Branding is the secret ingredient to any successful business venture. Without branding, the consumer would always select the cheapest and most available product that would fill their need. Brand recognition is one of the most valuable things a product can possess. USA Today estimates that the value of the “Brand” Disney alone is over 39.87 Billion Dollars. That seems like an enormous sum for a concept, thought, or image that is brought to mind when you hear the word Disney. Disney has spent years and millions of dollars to bring that image to your mind, the image of family-friendly entertainment, of Mickey Mouse, movies and theme parks. If you think that Disney is significant, consider Apple and its logo. The same article places the value of Apple’s brand at 214.48 billion dollars.

Remember that value is only for the brand, not stock or anything truly tangible. One of the main parts of branding is name or logo recognition; the best in the world in this area is Coca-Cola. Their red and white logo is recognized by 94% of the WORLDS population. Some brands are so dominant that they define the product itself. When was the last time you purchased petroleum or cotton-tipped swabs? Brands like Vaseline and Q-tips have become so common they define those products.

Why is branding so important? What does a successful brand do to create value?

A good brand will do many things, but the most important are these five:

  1. Define your product/service.
  2. Confirm the credibility of your company and product.
  3. Connect the consumer’s emotions with your company.
  4. Motivate the consumer to buy your product.
  5. Create loyalty.

Building a brand takes time and hard work. At Wet Edge Technologies, we have spent years in research and development to create a product that differentiates itself from other pool finishes on the market. We import and process specialty aggregates utilizing the most modern techniques and admixtures that provide our customers with the longest lasting and most beautiful pool finishes in the marketplace.

Having a brand without a reliable company to back it up will not succeed. A good brand can easily be destroyed by poor service or products, especially in today’s multimedia marketplace where one tweet could go viral and destroy a reputation or brand. Wet Edge chose to build our brand by first building a network of certified and trained installers. Our product depends upon proper installation and is not something a consumer can apply. Our installers are every bit a part of our brand as our product itself. We continually educate and update our installers as well as improve our product mix to meet consumer demands. Our installers are the real ambassadors of our brand since they are the ones who interface with the consumer. Wet Edge has the personnel behind the installers for support and continued marketing to promote our brand.

Today’s consumers have much more influence and power than those in the past. Many rely on customer reviews and the number of stars a product receives online rather than do their research, this concept has replaced the word of mouth method of product promotion. Brand development and marketing must include a robust online presence to reach today’s consumers. In developing our brand, we have sought to provide products that perform better than expected with distinct and marketable advantages over similar products. It is paramount that the overall customer experience is satisfying and positive.

Similar to your designs, portfolio and number of happy clients, there is no shortcut in branding.  There is effort to make it from point A to point Z.  In my first years, I didn’t even have photos!  Our original website was mostly drawings of our designs because we didn’t have a portfolio of built work.  We relied on those drawings, great customer service and word of mouth referrals to keep our company moving forward.  We didn’t fake people out with pictures from another local pool builder.  Rather, we slowly accumulated photos and built our portfolio.  When people steal or “borrow” imagery, it shows that they are unwilling to put in the time, effort and integrity to build up their own business.  Could I hire an attorney and fight them?  Sure.  Could I spend energy watermarking all my imagery?  Sure.  However, I’ve decided that those efforts ultimately take away from my business.  I lean on the old phrase, “It’ll all come out in the wash.”  People who falsely brand themselves will be found out eventually so I’ve decided to focus on moving my business and branding forward with integrity and simply encourage others to do the same.  Every aspect of your business and branding relies on real work and integrity. And here’s the bottom line: There is no shortcut.

Once a brand has been developed, and the infrastructure in place to support it, the marketing can begin. Many people confuse the difference between marketing and branding. They are not the same thing. Some even question which comes first, like the chicken and egg argument. Does branding come before marketing, or does marketing create brands? In reality, you must have a fully developed brand with products, support staff, and a delivery or installation network before you can promote the product itself. It would serve no purpose to sell a product you cannot deliver. Wet Edge has developed its brand and network and is expanding their marketing efforts online and by hiring representatives in different strategic markets. We drive customers from our website to local installers or pool builders who use our pool finishes. We provide consumer education videos to help consumers decide which product will give them the results they desire as well as the color and texture of their pool and water. Our telephones are answered by people trained to answer questions and make product and contractor recommendations. As with all business ventures, our success depends on the people within our company that support our brand and the ideals it represents.

— Lora Sharp of Wet Edge Technologies