The first in a series of short articles on the importance of branding in the cleaning industry...
Branding is the one marketing initiative that few cleaning companies indulge in. Save for the uniforms and maybe delivery or transport vans, not much is understood about such companies through their logos. Any cleaning brand must deliver the message that their work is good, reliable and consistent. In a short series on branding in the cleaning, Clean Middle East seeks to understand how companies in the region are working on their branding activities.
Epsco has been in the specialized services business since the past 20+ years. It has pioneered the Indoor Environment Quality and Restoration business in the Middle East. Over the years, it has grown into an international group in twelve countries on three continents specialising in services with Quality, Environment and safety issues are at the forefront of the business. It has had plenty opportunity to evolve in its branding and marketing activities over the years. The first article in this series is by George Thomas, Vice President, Epsco.
“Good products and services create great brands. Great brands die when products or services fail. There is a misperception that a good name sells and in turn creates a good brand identity. In reality, it is the opposite; when you sell well, you create a good brand. A brand is the sum total of the products, features and values of a company, for e.g., the service offered during and after the sales process. Across industries and sectors, branding has become increasingly important to create an identity in a world where companies operate in a fierce competitive environment. A brand represents customer perceptions of a product or service, it creates an identity for the product and the company. Given the intangibility of services, which is what makes services greatly distinct from products, branding in such a scenario is more challenging and requires a different strategy. With the evolution of cleaning from a daily routine to one of genuine hygiene, health and safety, as well as a status symbol, branding has a significant role in positioning itself in the desired segment in the cleaning industry. It is a huge challenge and a taxing exercise for first-time consumers to select a cleaning service provider in the absence of branding by the companies.
A major consideration for service companies is the challenge in creating brand identities for every service or service group – and this becomes even more difficult when the company is an SME with a limited budget for advertising. Keeping this constraint in mind, our major branding strategy has been to create a corporate brand equity that conveys the key characteristics of the company. The Epsco brand today essentially conveys to our customers and interested parties our core values of integrity, service excellence, high quality products, employee welfare, environmental commitment and corporate social responsibility. The products and services we offer have one thing in common - they are all packaged with our core values. We have been very careful in the selection of our products, services and people – ensuring that they fit the target segment and are capable of meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations.
Epsco’s branding strategy has been uniform geographically in the various countries that we operate and consistent over time. In line with our idea of corporate branding, we decided to use brand extensions when our product and service offerings increased. Today, all our verticals are identified with the corporate brand of EPSCO and relevant extensions, which we have very carefully tagged with the product or service groups. The branding theme got a facelift over the years, first, when we added a logo with a vision of future diversification outside of the shell of core services, and later when a pattern of building blocks was added to the theme symbolising our vision of future composition and growth. What influenced the changes in our branding strategy is our realisation that the product lifecycle is real, and to achieve growth diversification is essential. It is also our belief that service excellence can be a good differentiator and it is possible to take a certain market share of other sectors.
The hospitality, healthcare and residential sectors are quite brand conscious, and in some cases some of the personnel in these sectors are loyal to their brands. This phenomenon is common to most of the GCC countries. Industrial customers are less brand addictive, and their decisions are more cost- and solutions-oriented. Cleaning equipment, chemicals and consumables are getting highly branded, while service providers are still struggling to create a recognisable brand mainly due to the high number of operators, the small size of the companies and limited budgets for advertising and promotion. It is our belief that branding will get a boost if regulatory intervention is increased in the cleaning industry in terms of setting standards and compliances for companies and personnel especially in the specialised cleaning services."