Integrity You Simply Have It Or You Don’t

By Kurt Kraisinger

I’m sure there are many great approaches to acing marketing and branding for your company.  However, I’m not as much interested in talking about the specific “how-to’s” of SEM, SEO or your social media presence. I can’t help think about the way an individual approaches their branding and whether it displays integrity or lack thereof.  Integrity is something that you simply have or don’t–it’s a way of being and it’s the way you operate in all spheres of your life (including your marketing).  In the last month, I’ve discovered at least four other companies (that I know of) “borrowing” our images from my website to use in their marketing campaigns as their own.  While these companies tout their high-end services and design, one has to wonder: If they lie about their portfolio, what else do they lie about?

It takes integrity to build a great portfolio.  Ultimately, lazy people don’t create great design because they want the quickest path from A to Z.  By contrast, great design is a lot of work!  The design process is rarely a straight path and typically is a meandering journey filled with unexpected challenges.  An awe-inspiring portfolio doesn’t spring up from overnight either–it is cherry-picked from a series of projects that each present their own victories and hurdles.  And praising reviews don’t come from nowhere–they come from long hours spent in client meetings, in phone conversations and problem-solving.  In order to have a brand worthy of branding, owners need to put in time to establish amazing design, build a breath-taking portfolio and win over a multitude of clients.  In other words, laziness won’t cut it.  Creating a brand-worthy brand is not a straight path and it a tremendous amount of plodded effort over the course of many years.

Only once these efforts are made can an individual really translate their integrity into the branding arena.  Remember, integrity crosses all spheres of life, so it’s important to market and brand yourself authentically.  Do you have to wait ten years to build your portfolio before you can make a name for yourself?  Of course not!  You can always put energy into marketing and branding as long as what you’re projecting to the public is congruent with your actual skill level and experience.  In fact, I would say that marketing and branding are worth your time simply so potential clients can find you.  My marketing strategies have evolved over the years and I run my own personal experiments–marketing and branding is dependent upon what you’re trying to accomplish, who you’re trying to reach, trends and your budget.  In my current season, I’ve chosen to funnel marketing dollars from print advertisements to my website and online presence.  Additionally, following the trends and understanding what’s happening in the marketing industry is a way to benefit your company.  For example, is your website still using Flash?  It doesn’t work! By not staying current with basic technology advances, you prevent yourself from finding your best clients.

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.

Situated in a quiet lakeside community in Missouri this swimming pool project provided many challenges. The client wanted the pool at the same elevation as the main living space, therefore the pool vessel had to be elevated 20’ out-of-grade due to the extreme slope of the lake facing lot. The client also requested the pool be a perimeter overflow design with a diving board. With limited room we chose to place a diving platform in the middle of the pool and provide a swim-mode drain down detail to prevent loss of water during more active bather-load days. The end result, a beautifully executed elevated pool design to take advantage of incredible lake views.

— Kurt Kraisinger of LORAX Design Group