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Insider Advice for Building an Effective, Memorable Brand for Your Self-Storage Business

When you think about self-storage branding, what comes to mind? A logo? A color scheme? In truth, it’s much more than that. Learn why and how to develop a solid brand for your business, including tips for making it memorable.

One of the most damaging myths about corporate branding is it’s solely a marketing function. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Your self-storage brand isn’t just pretty colors and a nice logo. A good brand increases the value of your company, provides your team with motivation and makes it easier to acquire new customers.

Branding is actually the act of communicating and positioning your company. It’s how you’re perceived by customers. Consider this quote from Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” What do you think people would say about your self-storage business?

The Benefits of Branding

In the self-storage industry, some professionals think there’s no reason to build a brand. No one rents a storage unit because they remember who you are. Storage is just a commodity. Well, I’m here to tell you those ideas are wrong. Here are some reasons why building a brand for your business is important.

  • It improves recognition. The visual elements of your brand are the “face” of your company. Your logo is the most used graphical symbol. A professional one is simple enough to be memorable, but powerful enough to present the desired impression.
  • It creates trust. A professional appearance builds credibility. People are more likely to spend more and purchase from a business that appears polished.
  • It inspires staff. When employees understand your mission and reason for being, they’re more likely to feel the same pride and work toward the same goals.
  • It generates new customers. Branding enables your company to get referrals. Would it be possible for you to tell a friend about the new shoes you love if you couldn’t remember the brand?
  • It supports advertising. Your brand is displayed across every piece of publicity—both the medium chosen and the targeted demographic. It’s about consistency.
  • It builds financial value. A strong brand or just a cohesive presentation gives the perception of guaranteed future business. Branded companies are perceived as more valuable. The greater a company’s desire to build brand value, the better the financial return.

A Solid Foundation

Again, a brand is more than just a logo. Creating a true brand means developing your company purpose, position, promise, personality and identity. As you begin yours, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Your purpose: Why do you exist? What pain points do you solve?
  • Your position: Who is your ideal customer or target audience? Gender? Age? Do they have specific personality traits?
  • Your promise: How do you make your customers feel? Why do they trust you?
  • Your personality: If you could give your brand a certain set of human characteristics what would they be?
  • Your identity: What colors inspire you? What font speaks to your brand?

These are just a few of the questions you need to answer to begin building a solid foundation. A brand isn’t something that can be built in a day. It takes time and thought. After all, it’s put on display every time you advertise your business. It’s on your signage, website, business cards and more. It’s that consistency that builds recognition within your community.

The Creation Process

You don’t build a brand just because you’re told you should. You do it because it adds value to your business! So, let’s get started. The following can help even the most novice of self-storage owner create a brand that stands out from the crowd.

Know your typical demographics (aka buyer personas). Make a list of the ideal traits your customers should have. These might include age, household income and hobbies. For example, if your business is boat/RV storage, your target audience is going to be different than that of traditional self-storage.

Pick your tone of voice. It’s smart to use colloquial language. Nothing kills customer interest faster than industry jargon and overcomplicated details. Speak to people the way you would speak to your friends. If possible, include some humor!

Decide on your color palette. This can be incredibly important, as colors connect to emotions. Think about your high school or college colors. You probably feel a strong loyalty and pride when you see them. Storage is a hyper-local business. If you’re in a community where you can incorporate colors from a school or sports team, consider it. Your customers will have an instant emotional tie to your brand.

Choose a great name. Start by gathering a list of ideas, then select a few names that are clear, descriptive and easy to remember. Make sure your final selection can be easily carried into your logo. For local businesses, I recommend incorporating something that ties into the community. For larger, multi-facility brands, you might use a local modifier of the city or town name in addition to your brand name.

Create a visually appealing logo. This should be more than just your business name in Arial or Times New Roman font. In other words, it shouldn’t look like you just typed it in Microsoft Word. Your logo should be polished and memorable. Try to incorporate an icon or symbol that complements your brand.

Weave your brand into everything you do. If there’s one piece of advice you should write down as a takeaway, it’s to create consistency. Every piece of your brand should be seen across all that you do, from the way your managers speak with your customers to how you’re communicating online and across all the signage on your property. That consistency is what creates credibility and trust.

Top 5 Mistakes

With branding, knowing where to start is only half the battle. It’s just as important to recognize the common mistakes to avoid. Here’s a list of the top five. Some of these have already been subtly mentioned above, but they’re important enough to repeat.

  • Confusing branding with marketing. Your brand defines who and what your company is. Marketing makes people aware of your brand.
  • Equating branding to a logo. Remember, branding is about your business purpose, position, promise, personality and identity. It’s much bigger than just a graphic.
  • Lacking consistency across channels. Once you’ve created your brand, ensure it’s represented similarly across all channels—print, Web, social media, signage, etc.
  • Attempting to appeal to everyone. We get it: Everyone uses storage. But you can’t be all things to all people.
  • Disregarding professional help. Don’t allow a sign company to create your logo because you think it’s only going to be on your pole or building. It’s going to be everywhere!

Do you know the biggest mistake of all? Doing nothing! Your self-storage brand should be an interconnected suite of expectations, experiences, promises, benefits and identifiable symbols that deliver your story to the masses. It’ll take thought and effort, but great branding is worth it!

Christina Alvino is the owner of FineView Marketing, which specializes in working with small and mid-sized self-storage operators. She’s served as an executive-level marketing leader in the storage industry since 2011. Prior to launching FineView, she worked in marketing and operations for several large self-storage operators including Great Value Storage, Guardian Storage and LockTite Storage. For more information, call 724.413.6195; email [email protected].

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