A Branding Lesson From PADI and DEMA

Over the years, I have helped many small business owners establish their brand. Branding isn’t just about logo creation, it is creating awareness of a brand. The best part is branding can be done very inexpensively At the DEMA Show in Orlando, PADI and DEMA both represented excellent examples of effective branding.

Blatant SCUBA Branding

PADI was the Goodyear Blimp of branding at DEMA. Take a look at the picture I stitched together showing off their booth:

The PADI booth at the DEMA SCUBA show
The PADI booth at the DEMA SCUBA show

Here’s what PADI was doing right at DEMA:

  • They were the largest booth. Sure, some may complain that a large booth just equals deep pockets, but they went vertical also. You could see the PADI booth pretty much anywhere on the expo floor.
  • They appeared to have more employees there than any other booth. If you even paused to look at their booth, someone would greet you or at least let you know they had seen you and that they would be with you in a moment. I’ve been into empty dive centers where I have waited five minutes before being greeted.
  • You could easily identify a PADI staff person by their matching red polo shirts. You knew where to get help. You knew who worked there. Even if they were out of the booth walking around or eating lunch, I saw them happily answering questions from people because people could tell they were part of PADI.
  • In case you hadn’t noticed, the diver in the PADI logo is wearing red too…
  • Their booth was very open, allowing quite a few people to meet with (and buy from) their PADI representatives.

To recap: people saw PADI everywhere. If someone had never heard of PADI before that, they would be able to tell you that PADI is red and blue and is “the way the world learns to dive.”

Subtle SCUBA Branding

Without giving too much away from my interview with Tom Ingram, the branding DEMA has done is something all members of the professional SCUBA diving community should stop and take note of.

Their actual DEMA booth presence was fairly subdued, but the incredible work they have done in the world of SCUBA branding is through the Be A Diver campaign. When we think of companies like Nike, Apple, NBC and Ford, we all have thoughts come to our mind of what those brands describe. DEMA is working to do the same thing with the Be A Diver campaign.

The Be A Diver program is designed simply to create awareness and determine joint marketing projects to encourage non-divers to become SCUBA divers.

There is a logo. There is a non-certification-agency-specific web site. There is generic information regarding classes, both locally and on vacation. There are TV and radio advertisements available for local dive centers to use and get matching marketing dollars to run.

It is a program I think all members of the professional SCUBA diving community need to stand behind because it is designed to create customers for us.

SCUBA Center Lessons

Here is a list of some basic recommendations for you to build your brand:

  • Own your domain name and have all staff email run through it. When your instructors are emailing with their students, they shouldn’t be using an unprofessional, non-branded @aol.com type of email address.
  • Have a logo professionally designed. I have referred to LogoWorks (owned by HP) with many satisfied customers. Packages start as low as $299 with their Silver package (I recommend the Gold personally), which should be affordable for most people. They design logos that will be compatible with any use you could imagine, so you shouldn’t need to go back to them ever again.
  • A logo is especially important if you are in a saturated market and are still using your state rendered into a dive flag. If you’re the only (or biggest) game in town, however, that logo can be one of the most effective because people recognize the dive flag logo.
  • Put your logo on everything (and grab your business name everywhere). Just like how I am “SCUBAMarketing” on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a variety of other sites, you should own your presence everywhere you can. Regardless of what type of marketing communications you decide to use, your brand is consistent.

What are you doing to help establish your brand in your local SCUBA market?

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