How to make your architecture firm stand out from the rest

Elliot Rhodes

Cutting through the noise in a busy market can be challenging even for big architecture firms, let alone small teams. Competition is harsh, and often the competition will have a bigger budget to spend on marketing than you. This doesn’t mean that you should just give up. You can do plenty of things to disrupt this status quo and make your firm more publicly present.

The only problem that you may encounter is that there are too many strategies that you could potentially implement. How do you know which one works best for you? Which of the strategies are aligned with the latest trends? There is no need to trouble yourself with these questions. Here are the fail-safe strategies to help your architecture firm raise some dust.

Include 3D visualizations as a part of your service

The easiest thing to do to stand out from the crowd is to offer a service that limited firms in your niche offer. Fortunately, architects have access to plenty of new software tools to help them create unique and stunning deliverables. One of these is 3D visualization, a deliverable on the quest to conquer architecture and other verticals as well.

As you know, architectural visualization is one of the most important processes in your product cycle. You can use it to communicate your ideas better and attract new clients. Driven by emerging technologies, architectural visualization is rapidly changing. Today you can use 3D visualizations instead of the soon-to-be-obsolete sketches and physical 3D models.

3D visualization refers to using 3D software to create 3D models. You can use the software to create 3D models of an entire structure, including the neighborhood in which it will be constructed. The best thing about it is that your clients can open the visualization and view every room and corridor from any angle.

Furthermore, you can use your 3D building models to render high-quality 3D images. If you offer 3D visualization, you will attract more clients and become more competitive in your market.

Invest in branding

People love building relationships and interacting with brands. A brand is so much more than having a logo. It’s more about finding the most distinctive and unique way to promote your firm while leveraging services and values that make you different. With a good branding strategy, you will be able to improve your firm’s reach, make it more memorable, appear trustworthy, and start building credibility in your niche.

Over the last decade, branding has become quite complex. To succeed, you need to be sort of a branding and marketing guru. So, if you truly want to stand out, you need to invest in branding. Your goal is to find a firm able to help you with your branding efforts. Make sure to work with a firm that has experience branding architecture firms.

There are still a couple of things you can do. Your branding efforts need to be attached to some goals. Your responsibility is to identify and define those goals. For instance, you can take some of your KPIs and outline the value you expect to see in the desired time frame (1, 2, or 3 years). You can also make it clear to your branding expert that you want your brand to align with your current visual style.

Create an all-in-one service

Many architecture firms offer a limited number of services. It can potentially cost them, clients, because investors often look for firms able to offer all the services they need. When you can do business with one partner instead of a couple, it saves time and is often cost-efficient. As an architectural firm, you should start looking to expand your service offer.

To attract those big clients, you should make an all-in-one service. There is no need to focus on only providing one specific service to your clients. You should still be able to deliver other modular services. On the other hand, you need to truly be able to carry out all services listed in your portfolio.

To make the offer more attractive, you should make the all-in-one service cheaper than the sum of all the services it encompasses. You also need to add the relevant messaging to your marketing campaigns letting your potential clients know that they can cherry-pick services or invest in an all-in-one service.

The services we talk about here range from architectural design and construction administration to interior design and space planning. You can also include contractor selection and project management if you have the expertise to do so.

Participate in contests

If you ignored architecture competitions in the past, you should definitely change your perspective on them. These contests can mean a difference between failure and success. How come? Simply put, competitions provide a great opportunity to get some spotlight on your architecture firm. The exposure is beneficial.

First of all, you will be able to discover the latest trends in the world of architecture. You can use your colleagues’ work as inspiration to create even more attractive visuals. It’s a great opportunity to learn what tools other people use to optimize their workflow to be more efficient and productive.

In architecture competitions, the exposure you get can help you reach more potential clients. If you win some of the prizes, you can show it proudly on your website, add it to your portfolio, or share the excitement with your followers on social media. There are so many competitions. If you are busy, you should make priorities and only enter the competitions relevant to your firm’s services.

Some of the most prominent architecture competitions to keep tabs on include: Microhome, Warming, San Francisco Affordable Housing Challenge, Skyscraper Competition, or interesting one-timers such as HOME: Design Your Dream.

Use visualization for your portfolio

Given that most of your clients come to you after taking a look at your portfolio, you should treat it as one of your most important assets. It means that you should never allow your portfolio to be a simple sum of your past works. You should regularly visit it and update it. Since 3D visualization is slowly becoming a must-do in the field of architecture, you should use visualization for your portfolio too.

The same rules that apply to selecting your other deliverables also apply to 3D visuals. Most importantly, don’t just add any 3D render to your portfolio. It should highlight your best work. Be honest about your past projects and only select the best of the best to add to your portfolio.

Also, give your best not to be biased. It means that your portfolio should not only showcase the work from your specialty or showcase your style. It has to showcase that you can work on different projects despite the specialty, style, or scale.

When using visualization for your portfolio, you should also ensure that average viewers understand what they are looking at. If need be, add a paragraph of text to communicate the most vital information about your work.

Market with modern visuals

Content stands at the core of your architecture firm's marketing efforts. Content is what speaks to the potential clients and tells them a lot about your approach to work, talent, and devotion. If you start using 3D visualizations, you should definitely make sure to base your marketing strategies on them. There are a couple of things you can do to stand out from the crowd.

If you have plenty of time on your hands, you can create evergreen content to establish yourself as an expert in the niche. For instance, you can outline your entire creative process step by step to tell people how to create stunning visuals. If you use modern visuals such as 3D visualizations, the content will be long and interesting enough to keep readers all the way to the end.

You can also create videos of yourself using 3D software and edit them to create attractive and engaging marketing shorts you can use on YouTube or TikTok. Don’t forget to use that share button. You can share your modern visuals across different platforms to maximize your reach. In case you want to use paid ads, you can leverage 3D visuals to stop people scrolling and clicking your ad.

Have a personal approach

There is nothing that can give your architecture firm that distinctive signature as your own personal style. It can be anything running from your style as an architect to how you interact and work with your clients. Adding a personal touch to your firm will help make it recognizable. It will become easier for your clients to relate to your brand.

There are two things to keep in mind here. First, if you decide to use a branding strategy, you have to keep your personal approach aligned with your brand image and tone of voice. Otherwise, you risk confusing your clients and appearing as an amateur.

Secondly, you need to be consistent. Yes, your personal approach can change once in a couple of years, but try to make things as consistent as possible. People love when they know what they can expect from a brand, and having a standardized approach will help them feel more comfortable around you and trust in your firm.

Sit down with your team and define your “personal approach” and how it will reflect every business process and your deliverables in the end.

Create strong values

Not all architecture firms in the market have strong values. This is definitely a card you can play to make your firm more prominent and attractive in the eyes of potential clients. So what are the strong values you want to work towards creating? We’ve already covered a couple — reliability and trustworthiness.

You have to remain dedicated to your work to ensure that clients can count on you and trust you even with the most time-sensitive projects. You also need to continue to work on your talent, find new tools that suit you, and become more experienced at using them.

As an architect, you probably know that the project’s parameters constantly change. Becoming more flexible and adapting to a new situation is a great value to have in this line of business. You should also work on your schedule and do everything in your power to not miss deadlines.

While you are working towards developing attributes of the perfect architect, keep in mind that this will help attract clients and ensure repeat business and justify your service price point. Finally, creating strong values is not something you can do over the weekend. It takes time and effort, but you will most certainly do it if you are disciplined.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

There are not two architecture firms nor two clients that are 100% the same. What may work for some other architecture firm may not work for you. It doesn’t mean that you should sit idle and leave things as they are. It also doesn’t mean that you will not fail if you try a tactic or two.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with strategies. Pick one strategy and give it a go. See how it reflects on your business KPIs. Some tactics may not only fail but also affect your business negatively. Others might help you cut through the noise and land some massive projects.

The bottom line is that you don’t know until you try. If you find a couple of strategies interesting, you are not restricted to testing them one by one. Just keep in mind that some strategies will require more planning and execution than others.

Conclusion

When working in saturated marketing with harsh competition, the number of things you can do is limited. The only way to stand out from the crowd is to start working on improving your business. Things like branding, 3D visualizations, contests, and creating strong values are bound to help you come above the fold.

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A financial analyst and enthusiastic about everything related to investing. I try to enjoy using what I have learned from 10 years of studying business.

Waterville, ME
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