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Author: Ross Sturley – CIMCIG Committee Member (@rosssturley)

“Brands are all about trust.” So said one of the speakers at the recent CIMCIG seminar on the enduring value of branding in the construction sector. This was echoed in all our presentations, with the session peppered with great sound bites.  Brands are “a reason to choose”, “where value resides” and “a central organising principle”.


In the opening presentation, Catherine Towns of CIB Communications questioned the continuing importance of brands as the industry increasingly moves towards digital marketing. In the world of Google, are brands simply a waste of time? Considering Google is itself a global brand, it would suggest they are not. But the subsequent case studies from Redland and Blue Circle – enduring construction brands that have passed from owner to owner over decades – drove home the message of the value they continue to deliver.

The Blue Circle story involved the successful struggle of the brand manager to retain the trusted  blue circle logo in the face of corporate pressure to conform. They used conjoint research to establish the very significant additional profit that badging with the blue circle would produce, and this won the argument. Essentially, the relationship of trust that exists between builder customer and cement supplier is defined by that blue circle and removing it would have removed the trust in the quality of the product and its ability to command a premium price.

We also heard about Red Triangle, an erstwhile Blue Circle competitor which was established in the 1920s when a bid to buy Blue Circle failed. However this move was ill fated and the trusted brand prevailed, with Red consigned to the dustbin of building materials history.

Brands win on Google too, it seems. The new algorithms give brands a boost up the natural search rankings. It’s an upward spiral – brand enhances SEO results, better search results enhance the brand in Google’s eyes. It’s not automatic of course, you need real, valuable content on your website, but good brands have that.

Telling the story is important. Brands can decline if not looked after, and articulating them to customers is a key part of that. They need an authentic story, told with confidence – one that is based in the customers’ perceptions and which will be retold by them to their connections.

The seminar was entitled Death of the Brand, but it was obvious that far from being made irrelevant by the march of the internet revolution, brands are just as important now as they were when Blue Circle defeated Red Triangle 90 years ago.

Ross Sturley is principal at Chart Lane, a strategic communications company specialising in construction, property and regeneration, and a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group.

Do you think brands still play a vital role in construction marketing? How can they stay relevant in the digital landscape? Get involved in the debate on our social media channels using the share buttons below.

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