Each new brand in an industry is created to fill a void, but even after the larger hole is filled with a new business idea, the industry is constantly adapting to a world that creates more holes every day. In order to close the gap on new businesses entering an already competitive industry, established brands can adapt their business model to cover these holes and simultaneously remain innovative in the eyes of consumers and the industry alike.
Often the key to creative and successful brand innovation is gaining a fresh perspective on the strengths your brand currently brings to your industry. The solid business model your brand represents must be adaptable while staying true to your original brand values and beliefs. No matter the industry, pushing for creativity and innovation allows the brand to stay alive in the minds of consumers and industry leaders.
Know your strengths
It can be easy to fall into a silo of sorts when you focus too strongly on the work you perform on a daily basis and fail to view your brand’s broader strategy. The crucial point to finding the holes in the industry is to turn to your customers and peers.
About 10 years ago, Maaco launched its “Maaco Paints Anything” campaign in which it took the team’s expertise in painting and implemented it in other avenues to better the community. For this specific example, the brand used its painting expertise to decorate trash cans for a multinational mass media and entertainment corporation and luggage carts for a leading international airline company. While this had nothing to do with the automotive aftermarket industry where the brand sits, it brought to light the importance of giving back to the community beyond your own limitations.
Maaco has continued to expand its reach to new customer categories over the last 10 years, and now approximately a quarter of our system sales come from less traditional, non-consumer avenues. To help fuel the growth, we’ve even built out an internal sales team solely focused on driving traffic to franchisees’ stores from rental car companies, dealerships, airports, fleet management companies, and even popular ride-sharing platforms.
Invest in the right innovations
A brand’s presence on social media outlets, websites and new forms of communication like texting is an impactful way to keep a proven solid business model feeling – and appearing – refreshed and new for both customers and franchise prospects.
A huge initiative our marketing team is focused on is the customer. In this digital age, customers expect more transparency from a brand and in return they are being more transparent with their thoughts for a brand through online review sites. It’s important for a brand to have a deep analysis to understand who the customers are, which will allow the brand to better focus on what customer segments the brand will target. A key part of this transformation involves understanding demographics,satisfaction drivers and media consumption habits of these target customer segments. Each market in the US has a different mix of customer segments, and similarly, each market should have different media and messaging strategies defined by makeup of the target customer. For example, in a world that’s increasingly moving to digital, the budget is geared to digital advertising and less on TV or radio.
Go against the grain
Going above and beyond with ingenuity can only come to fruition when a brand is established enough to understand where it fits within the industry puzzle. Once you understand these parameters, strategically going against the grain will help your brand impact the community on a local level while building brand awareness on a national level.
To implement this kind of thinking, Maaco launched its “satellite” concept 2 years ago. Almost universally, the majority of the population views taking their car to the shop as a horrible chore. So instead of the customer bringing their car to the shop, the brand brought the shop to the consumer by having a booth at local automotive parts stores and community gatherings. This encouraged customers to become excited because they no longer had to take their car to shop – they could get a quick check and save time and money. For the brand, this kind of outreach strengthened the relationships with the larger community by making the brand not just another business, but a team of people working to better the lifestyles of those they serve.
Dennis Elliott has held a number of corporate positions at Driven Brands, Inc., the largest family of automotive aftermarket franchise brands, for more than five years. His roles have included senior director for M&A and corporate strategy at Driven Brands. Currently, Elliott is the vice president of franchise development for marque brand Maaco Auto Painting & Collision Repair, which has more than 500 independently owned and operated franchises across the United States and Canada. In total, Maaco has restored the safety and appearance of more than 20 million vehicles over 45 years.