Brand Building

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There are two ways to achieve brand recognition, says Pulte Homes vice president/marketing Jim Lesinski. The fast — and expensive — option is to buy a brand. Throw lots of money at lots of different media and buy consumer awareness.

December 01, 2001

There are two ways to achieve brand recognition, says Pulte Homes vice president/marketing Jim Lesinski. The fast - and expensive - option is to buy a brand. Throw lots of money at lots of different media and buy consumer awareness.

The alternative - building a brand - ultimately might be just as costly, but the result is a market position that reflects a companyÆs culture and builds on those aspects of its operation that support long-term market differentiation.

"I absolutely believe strong brand position has to grow from within," Lesinski says, "because long term, the winners in this business will be those companies that differentiate themselves on process rather than on product."

At the heart of Pulte HomesÆ national branding effort "Homeowner for Life" are its three IÆs on quality - involvement, integrity and innovation. Pulte defines each as follows:

Involvement: Do everything possible to make sure clients are involved in the process of building their new homes. Treat everyone like a partner. Communicate openly and consistently. Listen. Share. Seek to make this an enjoyable experience for all.

Integrity: We believe in keeping commitments and avoiding surprises. We carry ourselves with humility, honesty and respect. We want clients to view Pulte Homes as their trusted business partner.

Innovation: Always think of ways to improve our business and ourselves. Never stand still. Provide all the benefits of the latest advancements to our clients. This is shown in building processes, designs, technologies and in the way we treat our clients. WeÆre intent on making peopleÆs lives better.

"Our notion of branding is based on our belief that there is value in the relationship with the customer beyond the transaction of passing the deed and collecting the money," says Mark OÆBrien, PulteÆs president and chief operating officer. "At the core of that relationship must be an insatiable appetite, a continual drive, to deliver quality to the customer. Without that, all the rest of it is going to crumble."

To deliver on the three IÆs and realize the value of existing buyer relationships, Pulte is working on several internal and external initiatives. Internal projects include:

 

 

 

 

  • Functional groups: To share best practices throughout the corporation, functional groups organized by discipline - construction, sales, marketing, etc. - meet two to four times per year. "There is some very spirited debate at these gatherings," OÆBrien says. "Some things that were held up as best in class end up not recognized as such under scrutiny. However, what does emerge as a best practice really is recognized as world-class by the people in our organization who should know."

     

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  • Mentoring: Through PulteÆs Top Gun program, high-performance individuals are trained and then paired with newer Pulte associates so that the learning curve is shortened and the material taught is consistent throughout the company.

     

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  • Individual development plans: Every associate works with his or her manager to set job-improvement goals that directly affect the quality of the customer experience.

     

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  • Customer satisfaction measurement system: Pulte surveys measure customer satisfaction in sales, mortgage/closing, construction, service delivery and customer care as well as overall impressions. Data are collected 30 days and 11 months after closing, and results are shared throughout the organization each week.

    External efforts include:

     

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  • Brand development zones: In Phoenix and Houston, Pulte rolls out its newest marketing materials and tests new media. A sophisticated message-tracking system in each market measures the effectiveness of each consumer exposure.

     

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  • National umbrella advertising: This includes a float in the MacyÆs Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Dream Home Sweepstakes and in-flight advertisements on airlines.

     

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  • Co-branding: Homes are "the jewel" building product manufacturers need to reach the consumer, and Pulte owns that gem, Lesinski says. To further its advertising budget, increase consumer appeal and create value for its vendors, Pulte is initiating a co-branding campaign based on specific product brands.

    "We know that 35% of our customers are repeat or referral," OÆBrien explains. "In a $7 billion company like ours, that means $2 billion of our sales are without customer acquisition costs. Quality is the foundation that makes this possible, and brand development is the tool to grow it."

     

    Also See:

    Builder of the Year: Pulte Homes

    One on One With Bill Pulte, Pulte Homes Founder

    Weaving a New Del Webb

    A Maverick Approach to Training

    E-Commerce Colossus?

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