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"Branding is for cereal companies or product manufacturers, not distributors. It's okay for large companies, but not in the customer niches served by our company. In fact, the more meetings my competitors take to design a new logo, the less time they are out solving real customer problems. Works for me."
Communicating the value of a branding program is a little like the Maytag guy's problem. If it's not broke, why fix it? The comments above were valid at one time, but every distribution market, regardless of products, has shifted dramatically. Customers have much more information at their fingertips, literally, with the Internet. They have many more supply options than ten years ago. Distributors have never been more challenged to define and defend their value to customers.
As the lead article in this issue argues, that's why it's time in the lifecycle of the distribution industry where branding is not only an effective tool, it may be the only way in many markets to protect or grow market share. Most markets have been shifting to a commodity mindset as customers gain information and control. In the history of consumer markets, branding increasingly gained importance as a weapon against more competition and price comparison. Sound familiar? Branding helps companies break through the confusion and clutter customers wade through daily, regardless of the product or service for sale.
It's not just for large companies. The profile on Prime Industrial in this issue illustrates how a specialty distributor has done a great job branding. Their customers are clear and delighted about the value they receive outside the product box. The fight for the customer's mind and loyalty is increasingly going to be the front line for distributors. Branding is the right tool.