Brand—What It Is; Why Bother
I don't know who you are.
I don't know your company.
I don't know your company's product.
I don't know what your company stands for.
I don't know your company's customers.
I don't know your company's record.
I don't know your company's reputation.
Now, what was it you wanted to sell me?
—Famous McGraw-Hill advertisement
The concept of brand is a touchy one for most professional services firms. Do you spend money on branding or not? The debate usually goes something like this:
Brand advocate— We know our services are as good as or better than any of the other firms out there, but we keep getting beaten by well-known firms with more aggressive marketing. Just last week we came in second fiddle to one of the big-name firms. And we all know we were perfect for this deal!
We need to make sure our name is out there more, that we get known, and that we present ourselves much better than we are doing now, or we'll never grow this place like we should. We need more brand!
Brand skeptic— That brand stuff is hogwash. People buy from us because of relationships, our people, and what we have done and can do, not because of our logo, our tagline, and our website. I can't think of any better way to waste time and money than to spend it on this marketing stuff. Repeat business, referrals, and a team networking hard in the field to make contacts—we need more energy and effort in these simple, tried-and-true areas. This brand stuff is soft.
So who's right? Mike ...