Solar Brand Essentials A checklist of branding must-haves for maximum marketing effectiveness

Many solar companies are missing one or more of the following brand essentials, leading to significant missed business opportunities. By dialing in the entire brand, you will see significant improvements to your company growth.

The immeasurable impact of branding

Branding is the most important aspect of a successful business, yet it is one of the most overlooked. You can track traffic to your website. You can count leads generated by advertising. You can calculate closure rates for your salespeople. However, you can't easily determine how much your brand contributed to generating that traffic, those leads, and those sales.

Even worse, it's virtually impossible to determine how much poor branding can cost your company. You'd have to count every person that couldn't remember your name an hour after hearing it. Every person who couldn't find your company on Google. Every person who couldn't decipher your logo. Every person who confused you for a competitor with a similar name. Every person who wanted saw your company name and didn't know you installed solar.

I could keep going with many more ways your brand can miss connecting with your target customers, but if you follow the solar brand essentials below, you can greatly minimize these missed opportunities. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules and you can have a successful company without all ten, but the point still stands that you are in some way limiting the effectiveness of your marketing if you can't check all the boxes.

If you think you need any branding help, you can go ahead and request a free brand audit at the end of this article.

Company Name Essentials

  • A solar name

I covered this topic in a previous article, showing the data that nearly two-thirds of the top 250 residential solar installers have "solar" in their name. 92% have "solar" or a related term such as "energy." Joe's Electric may be an amazing solar installer, but how is anyone supposed to know without any relevant solar terms in their name?

  • A unique name

There are thousands of solar installers, so coming up with a unique, yet strong name is tough. Regardless, you need to ensure you are able to carve out your own unique identity to ensure you won't be confused for other companies. Right now there are more than a dozen variations of companies using California Solar and none are using californiasolar.com. I'm pretty certain that many, many people have ended up contacting the wrong California Solar.

Beyond brand confusion, there's always the potential for trademark issues if you are using a name similar to another company. If you have a very original name, please be sure to trademark it and send cease and desist orders for anyone encroaching on your brand. If you are constantly being confused for a competitor, perhaps it is time for a change.

Website Domain Essentials

  • A dotcom

Yes, awesomesolar.net is $11.99/year versus $2,395 to buy awesomesolar.com from a domain squatter (yup, those are the real prices...whoever buys awesomesolar.com after this owes me a dinner). While you can save a couple thousand now, you'll lose tens of thousands in sales to people who gave up after awesomesolar.com showed a parked domain page.

If the yourcompany.com domain is for sale, buy it or choose another name for your company*. Using a domain with .net, .us, .co, or other non-dotcom is like making your customers guess the last digit of your phone number. Yes, they may eventually find you, but they probably aren't going to bother trying to guess after the first call ends up with the wrong number.

*There are exceptions and alternatives to renaming your company just because a domain squatter is blocking its use. Feel free to send me a message if you'd like to talk over your domain situation.

  • An intuitive domain

As discussed, a well-named solar installation company is named XYZ Solar, XYZ Energy, or similar. Legally speaking, there's an Inc, LLC, Corp, or other legal business identifier at the end, but for the sake of your marketing name you most likely should ignore it. Therefore, given the last essential of using a dotcom, the website for XYZ Solar, Inc. should be xyzsolar.com. However, we've all seen variations such as xyz-solar.com, xyzsolarinc.com, or other unintuitive naming convention that just makes your potential customers guess when searching for your website. Please don't ever make your customers have to guess how to contact you.

Logo Essentials

  • A legible, solar relevant logo

Have you ever stared at a logo for a minute and been unable to read it or even figure out what the company does? Well, your potential customers won't take more than a second or two to view yours. Make sure it's clearly legible and emanates "we are a solar company."

  • A professional, versatile logo design

A poor quality logo screams poor quality installation. This may be tough to for some to take, but your son's high school graphic design class does not qualify him to make logos for multimillion dollar businesses. You can go ahead and let him have a shot at it, but please also get some professional options to compare it to.

For a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, you can be sure that the logo that you plaster on everything looks sharp and follows all the best practices of logo design. As mentioned above, it just takes a few more sales than you were doing with your low quality logo for the new logo to pay for itself.

One of the key things that comes with a professional logo design is versatility. Your logo should be impactful at 1 inch on white paper or 100 feet on a black background. Probably more than half of all logos I've ever received from installers are only good for websites and not much else because they were never designed for multiple applications.

Overall Brand Essentials

  • Authenticity

Your brand needs to fit your company ideals and capabilities. If you are the prototypical Chuck-in-a-Truck or family-run business, embrace it and don't pretend to be MegaSolarCorp in order to appeal to a market you aren't fit for. You are more likely to alienate your core customer base than anything else.

On the flip side, if you are capable of being MegaSolarCorp, don't lose touch with your brand identity and become GenericMegaSolarCorp #363. Document your mission statement, brand story, and brand ideals and instill them into every employee. Make sure the receptionist, the sales people, the accounting department, the installers, and everyone else understands why your company is so great..

  • Consistent branding

If you laid out your business cards, website, brochures, salesperson apparel, and every other brand asset, is it clear that they are all designed for the same company? Do the colors match, or are they clearly a few shades apart? Do your sales people even wear company apparel? If not, you need to take a step back and redesign everything as one cohesive unit. A clean, consistent, buttoned-up operation speaks volumes about your quality and professionalism.

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