Last week I walked by a neighborhood barbershop, and for the first time in all the years that I’ve lived here I noticed that they also sold hats. I had to chuckle.

Why would a barbershop sell hats? I imagined that somewhere along the way the owner decided maybe they could make a little extra money and hey, people were already “thinking about their heads” when they were in there, so why not?

As funny as it was to me – maybe not that funny to anybody else – I couldn’t help but think about it from a branding or marketing standpoint. To me, it tells me that I should be worried about the haircut I would get there. Perhaps enough people had bad haircuts and demanded hats when they left that it became a necessity?

So I thought next how many times do we, in the AEC community, send mixed signals to our clients?

How about the General Contractor that positions itself for luxury/high-end work but offers handyman services?

Or the award winning, multi-disciplinary firm that only features two people on the website that are both in the same discipline?

Or the dedicated government contractor that doesn’t list their contract vehicles anywhere?

What clients see, hear and think about your firm IS your brand. What you think about your firm may or may not have anything to do with it, unless you can eliminate mixed signals and consistently communicate the right brand attributes.