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Cracking the Branding Nut: Insights From Parking Marketing Leaders

A version of this article was first published in the December 2023 issue of Parking magazine by the National Parking Association. To check out the original publication, click here.

In addition to insights from the author (Sarah Becherer, our VP of Marketing), this article includes insights from Heidi Barber, VP of Marketing @ Parker Technology, & RJ Juliano, SVP, CIO, & CMO @ Parkway Corporation from their joint panel at NPA Conference & Expo 2023.

At this year’s NPA expo, I had the opportunity to join marketing leaders Heidi Barber and RJ Juliano to share some thoughts about branding based on our experiences growing brands for Ocra, Parker Technology, and Parkway, respectively.

I’m here today to relay some highlights and outline a few key considerations for building, executing, and measuring the impact of brand in our uniquely relationship-driven industry.

Busy folks (like you!) love a good bulleted list, so let’s go that route!

  • Understanding the customer journey is essential to building a brand.

    Beyond aesthetics used for recognition, your brand is a summary of all customer interactions: hold music, sales emails, your product’s loading screen – the works!

    Even if you haven’t intentionally defined your brand, you still have one.

    An imperative brand exercise is mapping how customers experience your business from the minute they see your logo for the first time through onboarding and ongoing customer success.

    Leave no stone unturned; every step counts.
  • Repetition and presence breed familiarity, which improves perception.

    When you’ve got a solid brand, you gotta flex it.

    Be active online and in person. Be consistent and honest and intentional. Put yourself out there and prepare a budget for doing so (there are formulas for this).

    Though brand marketing campaigns may not have the immediate attributable return of lead generation campaigns, they foster trust and familiarity, which means the prospects coming in are more qualified and cost less to acquire.
  • When building a brand, seek boldness – not consensus.

    A marketing leader who I admire once said to be wary of “low arousal” branding. This is branding that leaves a positive impression but doesn’t create awe and excitement.

    To build a “high arousal” brand, find a few key people within your organization who embody your ethos, have good taste, and understand user experience and human experience: a Decider (like a founder), a Recommender (a creative), and an Influencer (usually someone from marketing).
  • Brand is a promise that your operation then fulfills.

    It affirms and fortifies your service delivery. We build brands to authentically connect with and communicate the value of our products to our ideal customers.

    Using the right message and the right channels, you can truthfully, sincerely, helpfully posit solutions for actual problems.

    In parking, we all seek those genuine connections; they’re fundamental to building relationships that last decades.

There’s much more to say about:

  • The bare minimum brand work you should be doing today
  • Determining what you spend on brand
  • Tactics for measuring customer impact
  • Attributing brand to revenue growth
  • How brand impacts employee engagement, recruiting, and retention

And the three of us would love to discuss this with you! 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to continue the convo (sarah@getocra.com).

A rising tide raises all ships, and the work we do together to elevate parking’s profile and broadcast our innovation is worthwhile work indeed.

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