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Are You a Brand or Are You a Commodity?

December 7, 2020

I ask this question a lot, because it strikes at the core of how you perceive your own company. Spoiler alert: nobody answers “a commodity’’. Rather, it almost always provokes an impassioned response filled with details about what makes your company so unique. And that’s why I love this question. Because from here I can usually draw a distinct line between this brand perception and your brand reality.

Brand Reality: “We do X, Y and Z, and nobody does it quite like we do because we live to help our customers with …” (insert long list of expertise, specialization, experience, products, etc).

Brand Perception: The website is dated, the copy and visuals are dull and/or uninspired and the company resembles a lot of others in the space. Worse, they seem out of touch and disconnected from their customers.

And there you have it. The best parts of what your company does and why you exist (your brand) aren’t shining through which means that where the outside world is concerned you’re really not showing us your best attributes. That sounds more like a commoditized offering than a specialized one, doesn’t it?

It sounds straightforward, so why do so many business leaders still resist investing in branding? The top response is that many still see it as an expense, and more importantly, they don’t believe there’s a potential return on any investments made into branding.

But they’re wrong.

Commodity is the antithesis of branding. When you think of a commodity, you imagine basic, unrefined goods with no discernible differentiation. You can get a cup of coffee anywhere, but did you realize that the price you’ll pay for that cup is directly correlated to brand strength? The bulk bins in your supermarket let you scoop decent tasting coffee beans into a brown paper bag for the lowest price available. Those beans are fine.. I mean, they taste good and I know for a fact that most people can’t identify them as being bulk coffee beans (believe me, I’ve tried this experiment many times at the Workshop cafe).

So if the bulk commoditized coffee beans can be indistinguishable taste-wise plus they cost about 30% less, you would think that these beans are the bestselling in all the supermarkets, right?.

Also wrong.

The best selling coffee in America is sold under the names of the world’s most valuable brands, like Folgers, Starbucks and Maxwell House.

These companies outsell the cheaper (and similarly tasting) coffee beans by a huge margin because they know how to stand out, communicate value and connect with coffee drinkers. This is the opportunity that branding offers. Customers, clients, buyers… they’re all people with a job to do or a need to fill, and they yearn for the level of identification and connection that brands offer. They want to discover your brand and feel the same connection that tells them you have something great to offer.

Branding equals value

Do you want to be seen as a commodity, giving visitors and prospective customers the idea that you deliver the same experience and results as all the other companies out there?

Most real estate sites and a lot of business-to-business sites in general miss the point of branding. Stale websites, tired phrases, industry terminology, dull graphics all add up to a negative experience.

The reason we invest in branding is because we want to create lasting value. This is a concept that may be hard to relate in some industries because we’ve relied on personal relationships and face-to-face meetings to grow. But now that we’re de-emphasizing in-person meetings we need to rely more on tech and the internet to communicate and this should put a glaring spotlight on your brand.

Build your brand

You built your business with purpose.

Today, more than any other time before, you need to address your branding, website and marketing to make sure your unique message is coming through and you’re giving the world a true representation of everything you do and stand for.

What’s your brand story?

Hopefully, this is the “aha! moment” where you decide you’re going to lead with inspiration and bring your brand of commercial real estate excellence to life. Investing in your brand opens so many new possibilities and opportunities for outreach, discovery and marketing which can translate into amazing ROI.

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