Depending on who you ask, 40-80% of communication is non-verbal. We are all used to it at this point, but do you remember how jarring e-mail and texting were at first? Normal interactions are full of context clues that we absorb and internalize in order to understand what someone is really trying to communicate - beyond the words they use.

Likewise, your brand is more than the work you do. It is a combination of all of the bits and pieces that people experience in the course of knowing your business or interacting with your company. Broadly stated, your brand is the sum total of everything that could be used to shape an impression of your business. 

A brand is a bit like a smell. You can choose to be intentional about how you smell or ignore it, but one way or another, you have an odor, so you might as well try to make it a good one. 

In parts 1 and 2, we discussed how your product and your people create your brand, sometimes in ways we don’t recognize right away. All of these things add up to this, “a brand promise.”

Yes, this sounds cheesy, but bear with me. 

What does Nike promise you, as their customer? That EVERYONE is an athlete.

What does Ford promise you, as an F150 buyer? That you are a patriot. The backbone of the country.

What does Home Depot promise? You can do this. 

What does Fender Guitars promise me? That I’m a part of rock and roll tradition that includes Buddy Holly, Keith Richards, and Jimi Hendrix. 

At its best, a brand imbues a next-level consciousness into the relationship between a company and their customers. It is a promise that the buyer is part of something bigger than the transaction.

If you’ve read this far, you may be saying, “That’s great, Joe. But I do maintenance.” Admittedly, on first blush, the idea of a brand promise for a lawn and landscape company seems a bit lofty - but the answer is there if we look.

Suppose you provide lawn care services. You are adding to the cooling effect of plant life in your community. You are helping the homeowner generate oxygen, sequester carbon, and stop erosion. Your promise is that every client you serve is a true environmentalist.

Perhaps you offer maintenance services. Your clients are delegating work to you, so that they can do what they want with their time away from work, spending their limited free time with family and friends. Your promise is that your clients care for their families. 

Landscape design/construction is a luxury service that benefits the buyer as well as their neighbors by increasing property values. Your promise to your clients is that they are successful people and they are using their resources to make their community more beautiful.


I recognize that this entire discussion of branding may seem a bit high-hat. It is extremely tempting to disregard the concept and just get your work done - and that can be a valid approach. However, people want to be inspired - it’s human nature. If you choose to limit the vision of what you do, who you are, and what your brand stands for, you might still be very successful for some period - but if the public needs to choose between a company that “installs patios” and one that “makes the world more beautiful, one backyard at a time,” they will tend to pick the one that makes them feel like they are part of something bigger.

Think expansively, be empathetic and always think of what you are REALLY providing. Develop a vision, no matter how cheesy, and repeat it to your employees, your clients, and your prospects. Your brand exists, and you’re the one who has the power to control it.