Are You a “Brand Behind a Brand?”

August 24, 2007 7:06 pm

Normally, when people hear the term “brand” they immediately think of popular consumer goods and services . . . Coke, Tide, Sony, Apple, Nike, Verizon, and the like. Here at Delia Associates, our definition of brand goes farther and wider. We define a brand as “a unique entity.”

By this definition, people, products, services, companies, restaurants, stores, ideas, destinations, musicians, technologies and processes all can be considered unique, and therefore all “brand-able.”

Donald Trump is a brand. Restaurants like Chili’s and TGI Friday’s are brands. Fictional characters like Harry Potter and Captain Kirk can be considered brands. The United States is most definitely a brand, as is New Jersey. The New York Yankees are one of my favorite brands. Places like Disneyland and The Grand Canyon are brands. Web-based applications like Google, Skype, YouTube, and LinkedIn are brands as well. So are ideas like “Click-it-or-Ticket,” “Got Milk?,” and the LIVESTRONG bracelet.

You may have never looked at it this way, but your company is a brand too. Just as engineering firms, manufacturers, professional services, and distributors? when given a unique identity ? are also brands. And if you’re reading this newsletter, chances are that your brand is really a brand behind a brand. In fact, the vast majority of companies in America are just that. They are one, two, or even three steps removed from a big brand. Brands behind brands often function in the supply chain or support system for a larger brand, and they tend to lack household name distinction.

In recent marketing history, BASF is one of the first companies I can recall that stepped out into the spotlight with the message: “We don’t make the things you buy. We make the things you buy better.”

Brands behind the brands are the cogs in the wheel that either play a specific role (a niche), or provide a product or service that larger brands have elected not to supply, or simply can’t.

A friend of mine walked into our office one day and saw a bunch of Snapple containers lying around. He asked with amazement, “Wow! You’re working with Snapple? That must be an awesome account!” I explained, “Well, no. We work with CCL Container, the company that manufactures the aluminum beverage bottles used for Snapple’s energy drink product called Elements.” In this scenario, CCL is one of the many brands that support a bigger brand like Snapple. And to us, CCL is an awesome account.

If someone asked you what types of companies you worked for, you would most likely cite your biggest customers, and you’re best-known customers (or brands). Why? Because name recognition matters. And the fact that your company works for a well-known brand name says something about your company. The same thinking can be applied to big brands that have a need for products and services from small and mid-sized brands. They want to work with companies that have a great reputation, a great “name” in their respective area of expertise. Just like you want to have some well-known names on your roster, big companies want trusted partners with great reputations on their rosters.

So if “brand” means a distinct entity, “branding” then refers to all the actions a brand takes to communicate its unique message. This includes advertising, promotions, direct marketing, web presence, public relations, events, and all other forms of communication used by a distinct entity to communicate with its audiences. All these messages, when delivered with focus and repetition to an audience, create a lasting mental impression.

You don’t have to be big to be a great brand. And the process starts with a little focus and introspection to single out the one most important value your brand represents to the people who matter most – the customers you have today and the ones you want tomorrow.

Ready to begin? Simply call and ask about our Brand Leadership Solution, the first step to building a strong brand foundation for your business . . . and the first step to a higher level of success.

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About The Author

We specialize in b2b, supporting the clients who are the "The Brands Behind the Brands." These are the supply chain partners of brands, either in Tier 1 or Tier 2 positions, who drive value through the delivery of goods, services and technologies. We enjoy blogging about all things related to Branding, Marketing, Inbound, Tradeshows, etc... And we're always happy to talk about any ideas you may have that might Get You To Your NEXT!