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The Lighting Geek
05-11-2008, 06:35 PM
I was thinking today as I recover from a 2 day shoot. Let me tell you they are exhausting! I do a few things specifically to set me apart from competition and to help brand my company. I use flags with my logo on them, 8 colors. I had a branding iron made and we brand our connection boxes with 'The Lighting Geek' logo and website, we put stickers on the tf's, etc. What are you doing to set yourself apart, aside from the standard items as quality, service, and such?

Do you think this is important or a waste of time and money?

Lite4
05-11-2008, 06:42 PM
Not only is it important, but I think in this business it is paramount. That is why I am following your pattern for success. Seems to be working well for you. The full page magazine add is a little scary but what are you gonna do huh? It takes money to make money. For me, branding is finding something very unique about you or your company. Whether it be your style, like the Geek, or if it is your name. Find that little nuance that is special to you and exploit the heck out of it. I want people to remember and associate me with lighting and bringing magic to their homes. Tommy has done a very good job with this, IMHO.

NightScenes
05-11-2008, 10:56 PM
I like the branding iron idea Tommy. I do put stickers on all of the transformers and I have trademarked my name with the U.S. Department of Trademark and Copyright. If I were you Tommy, I would do that too. It doesn't cost much if you do it yourself and it will protect your name. I have my logo on everything I drive, wear to work, pull behind a truck, etc.

seolatlanta
05-11-2008, 11:20 PM
How difficult is it to trademark and copyright a company name?

Just wondering....

Eden Lights
05-11-2008, 11:31 PM
Branding is something that I could really work on: trucks, uniforms, signs, and etc. Branding of equipment though? My clients don't know where their transformers are and most don't know what their fixtures even look like outside of the decorative fixtures.

The Lighting Geek
05-11-2008, 11:46 PM
Branding is something that I could really work on: trucks, uniforms, signs, and etc. Branding of equipment though? My clients don't know where their transformers are and most don't know what their fixtures even look like outside of the decorative fixtures.

the marking of the components also let's us know if it is ours or if someone tampered with the system.

Lite4
05-12-2008, 01:23 AM
Hey Tommy, you should use a wax seal on all of your hub enclosures. If the seal is broken the warranty is gone. That should keep others out. I know, I know, stupid idea. It would never work.

David Gretzmier
05-13-2008, 12:55 AM
We've been using a custom logo for about 7 years now, on uniforms, trucks, brochures, advertising. we are in the process of changing it to include a christmas and landscape lighting theme. All out trucks and vans have professional photographic graphics on them. I'm wanting stickers for transformers, printed with outdoor ink so they look good in 5 years- where are you guys getting them ?

I've toyed with the idea of getting my own brand of lights in 3-5 years when this is a full time gig for myself and 2-3 employees. If we do 150 installs per year, and average 25-30 lights on each, maybe buying a container load of semi custom heavy cast bullet lights, with a shroud with matching pathlights is a good idea. It always seems I make a comprimase on the lights I use to get MOST of the features I want, but not all.

I remember Mike G doing this at his level and he was a one man operation. he was very good at branding his company.

NightScenes
05-13-2008, 01:53 PM
How difficult is it to trademark and copyright a company name?

Just wondering....

It is really quite easy to do this yourself. Go to http://www.uspto.gov/index.html and click on trademarks and then "Where do I start". It will pretty much walk you through the whole thing. It cost me around $400 for each of my two trademarks but I now own them and they are registered.

bmwsmity
05-13-2008, 11:43 PM
I think it's important to keep your name in front of customers in order to create top of mind awareness.

Logos, taglines, etc. are simply tools for this purpose. A label on a transformer is helpful for possibly capturing a client that moves in after the home is sold, but it doesn't do much for creating top of mind awareness IMO.

In our line of work, it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to truly brand yourself, simply because purchase frequency is low, the target demographic is somewhat small, and the dollars needed to truly brand are cost-prohibitive.

I think the most important thing to do in order to get your name out is keep your business NAME in front of your current customers, along with your target demographic. Possibly sending a newsletter, thank-you cards, or just a simple phone call from time to time are great ways of reminding them about yourself. Sure, nice logos and professional image help this, but they aren't the really important component.

There have been numerous times that I've called to check on customers and landed additional sales from the phone call. People are busy, and they often just don't get around to calling you, so be proactive.

If you did a great job, did your follow-up to ensure satisfaction, and just generally gave great service, you've given the customer the real reasons to refer other clients to you. A pretty logo can never replace these things.

One thing that would greatly enhance our industry is some sort of co-op advertising to raise the public's awareness about quality landscape lighting. A true integrated marketing plan that used multiple media forms to get the message out about where to go for quality landscape lighting.

Once the public had more consciousness, we could all start to more effectively brand our individual companies.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-14-2008, 11:59 PM
Have you noticed that all of the top tier lighting designers use their own name in their business name?

This is something I just recently clued in on and am in the process of making some changes here. Brands are good things to develop, but keep in mind the very personal nature of our work too. I think that people might respond better knowing that they are dealing with "James Solecki Lighting Design" then with a corporate name.

Time for another division I think.

Lite4
05-15-2008, 02:37 AM
James,
That is good insight. When clients want our services or they refer us to a friend they are wanting YOU, the person, not necessarily the company. I think sometimes when companies grow and expand they lose some of their attraction. Usually the one that made the magic and got the company started is no longer in the field, but is "Managing" instead. There is still something to be said for that personal service from the artist himself that got the ball rolling and made the name for the company.

NightScenes
05-15-2008, 08:53 AM
The only problem with just branding your personal name is when it comes time to sell your company. I am building a company that I can retire from and live off of the sale into my golden years. (damn, I think the fish might be biten')

Chris J
05-15-2008, 09:11 AM
Have you noticed that all of the top tier lighting designers use their own name in their business name?

This is something I just recently clued in on and am in the process of making some changes here. Brands are good things to develop, but keep in mind the very personal nature of our work too. I think that people might respond better knowing that they are dealing with "James Solecki Lighting Design" then with a corporate name.

Time for another division I think.

Thank you for noticing James! :rolleyes: However, I will be very curious to see how your going to let go of all the exposure that you have created under "INTEGRA" and change names. A few years ago I thought about another name, but didn't do it because I didn't want to lose the momentum I had built up with "The Big Johnson."

MarkOlex
05-16-2008, 02:57 PM
Tommy,
Where can I get a good quality sticker that does not peel and fade within 1-2 years.

Pro-Scapes
05-17-2008, 02:41 AM
I remember Mike G doing this at his level and he was a one man operation. he was very good at branding his company.

I like everyones ideas on this. The branding iron is pretty cool.

I talk to Mike quite often and from what Mike said he has never been busier and has actually hired on help finally. He has branded everything from fixtures to transformers. All have his name and company website on them either cast into the fixture or on a sticker on the trans.

We put our names on everything we can afford to. I have thought about doing custom connection boxes but cant seem to find a source. I think I need to contact dallas specialties for that. Mark I do have a source for the stickers but cant seem to find it right now and will post it when I find it.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-17-2008, 09:33 AM
Thank you for noticing James! :rolleyes: However, I will be very curious to see how your going to let go of all the exposure that you have created under "INTEGRA" and change names. A few years ago I thought about another name, but didn't do it because I didn't want to lose the momentum I had built up with "The Big Johnson."

Well I am not going to abandon INTEGRA at all... I am going to open JSLD as a division.

I spent some time last weekend with one of the best in our business. She helped me figure out a few things and one of them was that I want to be doing more work as a Lighting Designer. Lighting Designers are much different then Lighting Contractors in that they do not procure, install or maintain systems.

So I plan to take babysteps into that realm. Having a division known as JSLD is going to be for those jobs that are away from home, designing custom fixtures, and many of my interior projects which are already design only. INTEGRA will still stay very active as a Lighting Contractor here in Ontario and my LED Lamp division will operate under the corp. umbrella as ledlightsdirect.com

Vertical Integration.... check into it.

NightScenes
05-17-2008, 09:35 AM
Tommy,
Where can I get a good quality sticker that does not peel and fade within 1-2 years.

I think I get my stickers through NEBS. They are actually very thin metal stickers that last for years.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-17-2008, 09:38 AM
Tommy,
Where can I get a good quality sticker that does not peel and fade within 1-2 years.

I use an Avery Product for my transformer stickers. It is clear or white, waterproof and you simply send it through your laser printer at the office.
2"x3".