How do you market the same commodity as someone else successfully?


While we all like to think our businesses are unique. The truth is that for a lot of us the unique aspects are not in what we do but how we do it. So how does that message reach and resonate with your customer pipeline? It comes down to your brand.

Separating branding from the mechanics of marketing

Branding is a big work that often gets conflated with the mechanics of marketing. Marketing inevitably provides many of the tools that help to convey the values that are intrinsic to your brand. However, creating a brand itself is a highly strategic and requires a long-term approach that not only needs developing, but nurturing.

In particular, professional services such as accountancy, law and engineering, have often been sceptical about investing in brand development. What we are finding now as a result however, is that many of the older conservative firms are finding their pipelines of work drying up. Meanwhile, younger, more dynamic firms are successfully embracing a more brand driven approach to reputation management.

Same product, different significance

The value of a brand is not limited to professional services however. Fashion and entertainment industries have long mastered the skill of attaching themselves to an emotional association. It is evident in abundance at this time of year with front runners including John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Aldi. However, these are also sectors that have very varied products and services anyway, in themselves setting one business apart from another.

Branding becomes all the more important when you sell something that’s exactly the same as someone else. For law firms, the law is one and the same. For financial services, one business’s money is exactly the same as another’s. You may be trading off the benefits of short communication lines, cheaper rates, being a small family-run business or being a market leader with a history going back 200 years. However, these are not your product; they are part of your brand. Unless you have an effective way of communicating that, at some point potential clients will have no real reason to come to you over someone else.

Being the only meaningful choice

The power of a good brand is the difference between people knowing that you offer a product or service, and being synonymous with that product or service. It’s in everything from your typeface and your logo to your emails, your blogs and your TV adverts. It’s about being what Apple is to computers and what Nike is to trainers (need a service organisation example?). It’s about The happiest place on earth, I’m lovin’ it, Just do it, Finger lickin’ good and Because you’re worth it.

Or, in the words of Wallace “Wally” Olins, CBE a well known British practitioner of corporate identity and branding:

“Overall, because branding is about creating and sustaining trust it means delivering on promises. The best and most successful brands are completely coherent. Every aspect of what they do and what they are reinforces everything else.”