28th August 2015

The value of establishing a brand in FM

There is no question about it: facilities management is the ‘secret service’ driving UK business forward.

With a projected value of £117bn by 2017 (research by MCi Limited), the challenge facing leaders across the sector is how to establish brand value when it is often masked by the noise of the businesses they work in.

The big facilities companies work with some of the globe’s largest brands across a host of sectors, from finance and petrochemical, to security and the arts – but, if questioned, could a member of the organisation’s staff name the company that provides the cleaning or catering services?

A recent study by Tork manufacturer SCA provided a case in point: while 84% of office workers said that workplace cleaning had a direct impact on their working life, only half of respondents knew their cleaners’ names and you can bet even less knew the company they worked for.

In an environment where global FM providers are seeking to partner clients with a fully integrated, cost efficient, global approach, it is more important than ever to establish and showcase a solid brand. Arguably, most FM CEOs probably boasted ‘we work with them’ when the Brandirectory for 2015 was announced earlier this year; but interestingly no FM companies were listed, even though many have equal financial worth.

Building a connection
A strong brand is essential in any sector. People have emotional connections with brands, not businesses – so, while a great product or service will help build a successful organisation, a strong brand will stand for something that customers can relate to and create a bond with. This should be the basis for all communication.

Understanding your vision, values and beliefs, as well as your personality and tone of voice, is imperative to creating a unified external position. This process will provide a unique collection of characteristics that will guide you towards the tactics and content that will bring your brand to life, and differentiate it in the market for the right reasons. This is even more important for FM companies, given many colleagues are often working in another company’s culture, spread out globally and can sometimes have minimal contact with their employer.

So how do you make this happen? Well, start with the basics – ask yourself a series of difficult questions (who are we, what do we want, what is the brand perception) and don’t just do that internally – ask your community and stakeholders. FM business leaders should bring clients on the brand journey as they will make invaluable contributions to the process and, in turn, help cultivate the internal sell-back within their own organisations.

This process will provide the insights needed to engage audiences and create the right brand positioning among internal and external communities. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, roadshows, on-site events, brochures, uniforms and examples of how to live and breathe the values are essential cross-platform opportunities to bring a brand to life.

Facilities management employees in every role are in a unique situation: as service providers, their employer’s brands are often over-powered by the brand of the client premises they support.

So here are three points to keep in mind when establishing an FM brand that will help colleagues roll it out across the organisations they work in:

  • Keep it real – brand language and tone must be consistent; have a genuine, approachable personality that is straightforward for your team to represent.
  • Market relevance – as a service provider, FM organisations must always remain current to mirror the needs of their customers, while maintaining their own interests and driving innovation internally.
  • Consistency – use the same visual and verbal cues across all assets as this will ensure consistency of message on any medium. This will help you to build relationships and gain strength in the cluttered marketplace.

Demonstrating productivity and ingenuity through integrated systems and providing measureable, traceable solutions will hold no weight if the people and the brand clients are working with doesn’t appear credible.

Stand up and be counted
To future-proof the value of the FM industry and ensure clients also see the importance of having a solid partner, FM organisations need to come out of the shadows and showcase their brand, their values and how they integrate with their stakeholders. Working collaboratively with industry partners, finding best practice approaches with their clients and ensuring a robust digital and communications plan will provide a solid platform.

A brand is not just a uniform, a website or a van – it’s a collection of beliefs, an approach, a truly holistic view that adds value to a business and makes it a partner any client can be proud to work with.

By Helena Reid, B2B Associate Director

This article originally appeared on i-FM.net