Are You A Commodity Or A Brand?

Guest post by Anna Lieber

Business owners often tell me they are frustrated when their service is seen as a commodity, virtually interchangeable with others. So how do service providers get out of this quagmire? And how can purchasers distinguish one designer from another, one accounting, technology, construction firm from the rest? 

We all know it’s not always how much something is worth but how much people think it’s worth. Consider the beauty industry where cosmetics companies put $3 worth of skin cream into $10 worth of packaging and charge $100. And if you had told people twenty years ago that we would all be paying for bottled water, they would have laughed. 

Why do we pay a premium for brands like Starbucks and Perrier? One answer is that their product is better, they give us a better experience and ... because they’ve told how they are better. 

So first, realize that your clients want to understand the differences but find it confusing. Second, understand it’s your responsibility to show them how you are different and better. And third, recognize that image and perception are everything. 

Rather than emulating competitors, figure out what you possess that they do not. What sets you apart? Is it your special capabilities, training, patents and trademarks, industry knowledge, access to resources, proprietary processes or just plain know how?

Now how do you change perception? In plain English, toot your horn. Once you’ve developed a clear and sustainable competitive advantage, drive it home with the right brand message. Communicate frequently with clarity and consistency. 

We trust companies we know and so to create value make sure others know you. A recognized brand is worth more. That’s what we mean by brand equity.