Five Ways to Build Your Brand in the “New Normal”
August 05, 2020
Building a strong and differentiated brand matters now, more than ever, as building owners and managers navigate the challenges of the global health crisis. Clients are looking for a solid “say” + “do” ratio and commitments from their partners to listen, and to be transparent and authentic.
A recent CoreNet Global® survey[i] reports that 38 percent of respondents expect more than a year until normal occupancy returns. These circumstances make your building’s brand more important than ever. Below are five ways to help bring your brand to life and help you ensure that your stakeholders see you as a trusted and reliable partner now and in the future.
Know Who You Are and Who You Want to Be
It is critical to understand what your brand represents to ensure alignment with who (note: “who” rather than “what”… more about this later) you want it to be. Undertake a brand perception survey to identify how stakeholders perceive your brand. It need not be a long or expensive process: scrappy works!
You can undertake a minimal-cost digital survey several ways:
· post a poll on your social media channels,
· launch a survey on your website, or
· email your customer base with a survey link.
Make sure to get good representation from your various stakeholder groups to develop a 360-degree view of your brand. Ask questions that will help you understand associations with your brand, its emotional appeal and the tangible and intangible experiences that people have with it. Survey responses to these questions will help you identify any key attributes you need to shed or continue to build.
Based on this input, you can develop an action plan on how you will shift and adapt perceptions, using a variety of tactics including storytelling, developing a tagline, updating your visual identity or even shifting your tone of voice.
Personify Your Brand
People tend to trust people over companies since for a long time, the language of companies proved very robotic or corporate. More recently, we have shifted to “simple human speak” with the realization that we are all simply humans marketing to other humans. In other words, stakeholders ultimately care who you are, not what you are.
“Simple human speak” also typically takes a conversational tone as opposed to a soapbox approach which “lectures” customers. In other words, ideally, your customers feel like they are partnering with you, based on the tone of your branding.
Other keys to a successful brand include differentiating your brand, as well as being trustworthy and most critically, authentic. Simply put, think about your brand as a person and engage with your brand as you engage with each other. Your brand deserves a clear brand personality, which serves as the foundation for how customers perceive, feel and interact with it. This approach can help them better connect with your brand.
· Can you describe how your brand thinks and feels?
· Does it have a gender?
· Is it someone you would be interested in sitting down and having coffee with?
You can use brand archetyping to help customers relate to the brand as if it were actually alive. For example, the brands behind the nation’s leading bar soap and the nation’s largest soft drink company are both “innocent,” America’s most iconic motorcycle brand carries the “outlaw” archetype.
Trane fits into the “hero” archetype: brave, selfless and will defend the underdog. We recently launched a new brand campaign called “the world is our building” which plays into our sustainability story, our mission to reduce the energy intensity of the world and the trust and partnership that we build with our customers.
The campaign focuses on the way that buildings live and breathe; the energy that courses through them and the comfort and safety of the people within those buildings.
Check out this quick video to see how the Trane persona and tone of voice come to life in this campaign.
Use the Power of Storytelling
Given the current marketplace “noise,” it is important to tell your story clearly and concisely. Focus in on the key issues that set you apart from your competition and hammer those points consistently and simply.
Here are some ways that storytelling can help you do so effectively.
1. Piggyback on larger stories
Piggybacking on larger stories can help drive your brand message efficiently and effectively. If your city is one of the 25 cities selected for the Bloomberg American Cities Challenge, check to see if you might work with your city leaders to promote energy reduction in your buildings.
You also can piggyback on the larger sustainability message that currently resonates with stakeholders. Your organization can set its own sustainability goals and work to achieve them and promote the effort and results. This can both help improve how possible tenants view your properties and help you attract top young talent.
Trane Technologies is leveraging this strategy with its Gigaton Challenge, which has a 2030 goal of reducing our customer’s footprints by one billion metric tons. Our efforts have already gained both media and social attention and do so with each progress update.
2. Develop a blog
Consider developing a blog to tell your story. Make sure that your blog is educational and incorporates key words to for search engine optimization. Enhance readability with list-type formats such as “10 Easy Ways to…” or “Five Easy Steps to….”
3. Incorporate social
At Trane, we also use social as a key element in storytelling. While social media demographics shift constantly, we currently recommend using the following:
· LinkedIn®, with 690 million active users (50 million of those users are companies)[ii],
· Twitter®, with 330 million active monthly users[iii]
· Facebook® with 2.6 billion active users[iv]
We share a blend of organic posts, continued engagement on posts, and paid advertisements across our social channels. Consider incorporating paid advertisement into your plan. Just one paid advertisement on LinkedIn alone, for example, can reach approximately 12 percent of the world’s population and 62 percent of the U.S. population.[v]
Leverage Third-Party Input
Leveraging third-party credibility can help build your brand by increasing confidence in your building environment. We recently launched the Trane Air System Quality Recognition award, for example, that building owners and managers can prominently promote via a front-door decal. The decal communicates that building owners and managers are working to help have made quantifiable improvements to their buildings’ indoor air quality.
Organizations receive the center core of the three-part window decal after completing an indoor air quality assessment and launching improvements. Trane awards the second ring upon completion of those improvements. Owners and managers receive the last ring as they incorporate online services or remote management to ensure that the building system is resilient for whatever comes its way in the future.
Displaying third-party recognition such as this can help improve the brand and reputation of your spaces. Be sure to promote it, digitally, too, and make sure that current and potential clients understand the commitments you have made.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat – a Brand is Never Complete
Your brand needs ongoing management. Rather than constantly re-defining your brand, the goal is to define or redefine only when needed and then make improvements along the way. Continually assess and update while making sure you are maintaining your core for consistency. Consider a deeper effort when the following apply:
· Has your company make up changed through growth or transformation?
· Do you stand for something new?
· Are you in need of a complete overhaul?
Keep your eyes and ears on what is going on in the surrounding environment. Monitor the news and industry-related social media accounts. Stay abreast of activity on your own social media channels and make sure that you are engaging and responding when necessary
That said, now is a time of global change. There is no better time than right now to truly listen and capture the voice of your customers and potential customers. Then build your brand plan and determine whether you need to make significant changes or just adjust course to enhance the power of your brand.
[i] CoreNet Global survey reports: 38 percent expect more than a year until normal occupancy returns - Real Estate Weekly. "Office workers take baby steps back to work," June 23, 2020,
[i] LinkedIn.com, About Us: Statistics https://news.linkedin.com/about-us#1
[ii] Statista.com, “Number of monetizable daily active Twitter users in the United States from 1st quarter 2017 to 2nd quarter 2020,” https://www.statista.com/statistics/970911/monetizable-daily-active-twitter-users-in-the-united-states/
[iii] Statistica.com, J. Clement, April 30, 2020, “Number of monthly active users worldwide 2008-2020,”
[iv] LinkedIn alone, for example, can reach approximately 12 percent of the world’s population and 62 percent of the U.S. population.[iv] (https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-advertising-stats/#:~:text=35.,with%20675%20million%20users%20worldwide.