Without A Strong Brand, It’s All About Price

Mary Rosenbaum | February 16th, 2010

How would you like to charge more for your services or products than your competitors? With a strong personal brand, you can. If you don’t believe me visit your local drug store. There are generic drugs available at pennies a piece sitting alongside a branded generic product, a more expensive version of the same exact product with the difference being the name of a major drug company somewhere on the box. Companies know that consumers prefer buying brands and as a result, are willing to pay more for the PROMISE of quality.

A strong brand takes pricing out of the equation. David Avrin in his book, “It’s Not Who You Know It’s Who Knows You” says that the 4 most dangerous words to hear when pitching a client, asking for a raise, or selling a product, are: “All things being equal”.  If you hear these words then you haven’t differentiated yourself from your competitors; you haven’t effectively communicated the PROMISE of quality or unique value. Instead, you are now competing on price, location or any other factors that have nothing to do with the value of the service or product you provide.

Branding isn’t limited to corporations. Are there any entrepreneurs, small businesses or professionals who would rather focus on pricing issues when making their pitch instead of on the quality of their offerings? With a strong personal brand, a reputation that is substantiated by results, the focus will be on your differentiating PROMISE of value. (See an earlier post that can help you in defining your personal brand at bit.ly/56nIeA)

Here are some defining characteristics that are the underpinnings of a strong brand.

1. Quality – It’s what clients value and are willing to pay a premium for if it is what they can expect. Think Toyota and how the brand has been hurt by the quality control issues affecting accelerators on their cars.

2. Reliability – Delivering results as promised and as expected each and every time builds credibility and brand loyalty. Negative surprises hurt your brand. Part of Toyota’s brand has been the safety of their vehicles. The recent events have called into question their reliability in delivering safe cars to families who have relied on them for decades.

3. Consistency – Clients like knowing what to expect from you and what value you provide. Staying on brand all the time and being able to clearly and consistently describe your unique PROMISE of value is key to developing and maintaining a strong brand.

So, if there ever was a question in your mind about the value of a strong personal brand for your business or your career take a look around at your local drug store or grocery store and see how your purchasing decisions are affected by strong brands, brand recognition and brand loyalty when the same products are available at a lower cost.

Are there other examples that you can think of where strong brands command premium prices for products or services that are not considered premium?

11 Response to “Without A Strong Brand, It’s All About Price ”

David Avrin
February 17, 2010
9:51 am

Comment :

Thanks for the shout-out!

Dave

Arline Blake
March 3, 2010
11:22 am

Comment :

I still need more info on “Branding in the Real Estate” market..

What really does that mean?

How will I stand out?

It is still vague to me..

Mary Rosenbaum
March 5, 2010
3:13 pm

Comment :

Personal Branding is most effective if you are in a business where you feel like others treat you as more of a commodity than someone who adds value. Creating a specific niche in your field (whether it’s a demographic or a geographic niche) is one way to develop a level of expertise and connectedness that helps you stand out from your competition. If you decide on a geographic specialty you can become the expert on restaurants, schools, best service providers (dog walkers, dry cleaners), etc. and demonstrate this expertise by communicating it (blogs, newsletters, etc) to your target audience. See my newest post on the importance of using social media in growing your business and promoting your brand.

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Rabia Aslam
May 14, 2010
11:44 pm

Comment :

Mary, this indeed something that rings a lot of familiar bells. Another example that comes to mind where strong brands commands price and popularity is in the very basic realm of a candidate search. Even a large organization with years of experience in the market is ready to pay premium prices (read big salaries) to individuals who come from Big B Schools due the obvious promise of best quality and value attached to them in terms of education. It will never be willing to hire a candidate with the exact same qualification and experience from a smaller school at half the salary! I wanted to highlight this example and also seek your suggestion in how you think such an individual can brand and package himself to be on par with the big guy from Wharton or Howard? Is there a way or do we just exit the interview at the earliest since there is no way we can compete with this particular brand category?

Thanks for your advice,
Rabia

Bruce
May 19, 2010
9:57 am

Comment :

Thanks for the shout-out!

Dave

Bonnie
May 19, 2010
7:45 pm

Comment :

Thanks Mary, Your so right, when you Build a Great Brand is about Quality, Reliability and Consistency. thanks for highlighting the 3 fundamentals.

Mary Rosenbaum
May 26, 2010
8:20 am

Comment :

Thank you all for your comments. Rabia, I know it sounds daunting but there are ways to stand out and compete head to head with those graduating from the big B schools. Having been a recruiter for over 20 years I successfully introduced candidates that on paper may not have had the same qualifications but by positioning them in a way that highlighted what they could accomplish for the company they were deemed the better candidate. It is all about bringing all of you into the branding process, you are not just the school you attended.
I hope this helps.

Mary Rosenbaum
May 26, 2010
8:49 am

Comment :

Thanks Bonnie. I appreciate your comment. Glad it was helpful.

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