How to build a strong brand
In today’s competitive landscape, building a strong brand has become paramount for success. Architectural marketing expert Dave Sharp discusses the significance of brand development in architecture, emphasising the value of qualitative marketing strategies, effective budget allocation and premium distribution channels.
The following advice is based on a BoSP presentation on Meaningful Marketing, given by Dave Sharp in Adelaide in May 2023. You can listen to the full 40-minute presentation on the Office D.SHARP website.
Architects who invest in strengthening their brands not only attract clients who appreciate their work but also create lasting impressions and can often charge premium prices. The following list offers valuable insights for architects seeking to elevate their brand presence.
The impact of a strong brand
A strong brand acts as a magnet, drawing in clients who recognise and value quality. These clients are willing to invest time and resources, enabling architects to create remarkable projects. Well-managed architecture brands have a higher likelihood of winning new projects and attracting talented employees. Furthermore, a strong brand commands attention on social and traditional media platforms, leading to increased engagement and client interest. It is crucial to focus on developing a brand that stands out and resonates with the target audience.
Effective budget allocation
To maximise marketing effectiveness, architects should carefully allocate their budget based on strategic goals. Identifying tactics and channels that align with these objectives is paramount. For instance, investing in creative assets such as professional photography, videos, copywriting and graphic design can greatly enhance a practice’s brand image (what people think about the brand).
While direct inquiries are important, architects should also prioritise indirect presence and credibility to positively position their brand in clients’ minds. Conducting market research through client interviews helps architects gain valuable insights and refine their marketing strategies. For small practices, allocating approximately 10-15% of annual revenue to marketing ensures a sufficient budget to invest in high quality creative. Quality should always take precedence over quantity, with a focus on selecting key projects that truly showcase the practice’s capabilities.
The power of visual content
Professional photography is an indispensable component of successful architectural brand development. The majority of a small practice’s budget should be invested in high-quality visual content that will leave a lasting impression on clients. Commissioning professional portraits of clients, as well as the architect and their team, can also strengthen trust and make the studio more distinctive.
Harnessing awards and recognition
Participating in awards programs can significantly boost brand recognition and value. Allocating a portion of the marketing budget to enter industry awards helps elevate an architect’s reputation and attracts attention from potential clients and employees.
The role of location and atmosphere
While often overlooked, the physical location and atmosphere of an architect’s studio plays a vital role in brand perception. Upgrading or renovating the studio space or moving to a better location can greatly impact how clients perceive the brand. Aligning the studio’s location and atmosphere with the brand message creates a positive impression and fosters a deeper connection with clients and employees.
Consistency and creativity
Consistency is key to establishing a strong brand presence. Architects should ensure that their brand image, message and visual identity are consistently represented across all platforms and touchpoints. This consistency cultivates brand memorability and recognition. Investing in high-quality, engaging, emotionally resonant and visually creative content helps architects create a lasting impact.
Dave Sharp is an architectural marketing expert and the director of Office D.SHARP, a practice providing specialised consultancy, marketing and PR services tailored to meet the particular needs of architects. Dave is also the host of Office Talk, a fortnightly podcast featuring conversations with leading Australian architects about their businesses, work and lives.