Our Thinking

Amplify your Brand with “Brand Transfer”

As the market is increasingly saturated with innovative ideas and products, how do organizations maintain a competitive edge and stay afloat?  In addition to traditional and digital advertisements or social media mentions, is there another mechanism to build your organization’s brand? One that yields powerful positioning advantages, increasing your brand reach and awareness, while costing significantly less than advertisements and PR?

Brand Transfer is the “borrowing” of another organization’s brand to better convey – or even amplify – your own. Consider the following examples:

  • What do prospects and clients think about the quality of your work, if you are an IBM, Oracle or Salesforce “partner”?
  • How differently is your organization perceived when all employees use a sleek Macbook Air, instead  of a no-name clone laptop?
  • What type of image do you portray if you have your annual conference at the Holiday Inn versus a Westin or a Fairmont?

These international firms have each invested millions of dollars into building their brands. As a result, each brand is broadly recognized in the market. While it is easy to think of Brand Transfer like an unauthorized “theft” of such companies reputations, nothing is further than the truth. Brand Transfer is similar to a rental transaction:  You pay the Westin for their conference center and hotel rooms, and they encourage you to use their name while marketing the event.  In fact, they employ a sophisticated sales and marketing team precisely to ensure that you choose their facility – their brand – over others.  And, since the Westin brand has greater value than the Holiday Inn, you’re willing to pay the difference to be associated or aligned with the Westin service and experience.

Interestingly, Brand Transfer works at the individual level as well.  Answer these questions (there are no wrong answers):

  • What type or watch do you wear? (Do you wear a Rolex because of it’s accuracy, or its reputation?)
  • How similar are you and your friends? (We prefer to spend time with people whose values are similar to our own.)
  • Do you shop for clothes at Harry Rosen, or Costco? (We prefer retailers – and buy clothing – at places whose brands sync with our own personal brand.)
  • Are you a Porsche person, a BMW person, or a Tesla person? (We seek cars that match our personal brand aspirations.)

The best strategic partnerships are those where there is Brand Transfer in both directions, not just one.

This week’s action plan: This week, evaluate your Brand Transfers.  Which brands do you seek to partner with to amplify your profile and extend your brand awareness? Which of your current partners no longer meet your expectations, or tarnish your reputation? Extinguish those that do more harm than good, and look for new partnerships that provide a positive boost.