Adweek posted an infographic last week citing numerous studies to reveal that brand name is becoming increasingly less important to people.
Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said they’d choose generic brands instead of their favorite brand if the generic happened to be on sale.
Quality and independent, third-party evaluation of brands is also rising. A majority of people read reviews of a brand or product before making a purchase decision. Of that 53 percent majority, 86 percent say they evaluated the brand based upon both positive and negative reviews.
That’s encouraging news from our point of view.
At WordWrite, we believe the foundation of any organization is inextricably tied to its authentic business “Story,” with a capital “S.”
Brand is what you are perceived to be, not what you really are to your customers and clients.
A business “Story” equals why you exist and why someone would value your services over your competition. It starts from a place of truth. It grows in authenticity because we at WordWrite consistently position a company’s experts to share their strategic story with the right audiences on the right platforms and channels.
Especially in B2B communications, advertising does little to demonstrate your expertise, or to truly distinguish you from competitors. To demonstrate expertise and distinguish your organization, you must have a real conversation with your target audiences. And those target audiences need the kind of attention that ensures they are getting what they need to build a mutually beneficial relationship.
A cohesive business strategy depends on an entire organization understanding and believing in its identity and mission.
The best way to implement this strategy is through a two-way conversation between your thought leaders and potential business targets.
Many of our clients provide consulting and business strategy services. They don’t make a product. You can’t hold what they do in your hand or attach it to another product to make it work. So why should a client choose that law firm, accounting firm or financial advising agency?
Traditional marketing would place a heavy emphasis on the brand name of the professional service or consulting organization, as if the mere gravitas of the title on the wall will provide results. Certainly, once you’ve established a brand, the name is meaningful and will engender future good will and business opportunities. The steps you take in building the brand, however, are dependent upon the skills and expertise of those you employ.
The outcomes we’ve been able to achieve for our clients tell us that a company’s people, not its name, give the organization its luster. A name is largely a table stake.
Thought capital, not brand name, matters most to those in the B2B sphere. In-house counsel, CFOs, vice presidents of human resources, etc. don’t choose based primarily on the name on the masthead. No, they want to know the qualifications and capacity of the people they’re hiring.
Our experience with the media is similarly grounded in the belief that who we position as a thought leader is vastly more important than the name of that expert’s organization. Our credibility with the media relies on the credibility of those we provide them with as sources, just as their credibility as a news organization to their audiences is dependent on the reliability of the people they quote.
The New York Times hasn’t been regarded as this country’s paper of record for more than a century because its name is The New York Times. The New York Times is the most-respected, comprehensive news organization in the country—if not the world—because of the individuals validating and verifying the information it reports in individual stories.
Thought leadership marketing, as we like to call it, offers third party validation you can’t get from a simple new hire press release or advertisement.
It’s one thing for everyone in your own business sector to know how talented your people are, but that won’t drive business. Your competitors won’t be telling their clients and prospects how great your team is, so you need credible representation in and advocacy from a third party—in this case, the media.
Thought leadership marketing success depends on the proper positioning of your leaders to newspapers, magazines, trade publications and on television as contributors, authors, expert sources and speakers.
A marketing brochure won’t seal the deal with prospects, but a well-placed quote, op-ed, byline or media hit for your people in a reputable news organization just might.