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Are You a "Brand Behind a Brand?"


Normally, when people hear the term “brand” they immediately think of popular consumer goods and services . . . Coke, Tide, Sony, Apple, Nike, Verizon, and the like. Here at Delia Associates, our definition of brand goes farther and wider. We define a brand as “a unique entity.”

By this definition, people, products, services, companies, restaurants, stores, ideas, destinations, musicians, technologies and processes all can be considered unique, and therefore all “brand-able.”

Donald Trump is a brand. Restaurants like Chili’s and TGI Friday’s are brands. Fictional characters like Harry Potter and Captain Kirk can be considered brands. The United States is most definitely a brand, as is New Jersey. The New York Yankees are one of my favorite brands. Places like Disneyland and The Grand Canyon are brands. Web-based applications like Google, Skype, YouTube and LinkedIn are brands as well. So are ideas like “Click-it-or-Ticket,” “Got Milk?,” and the LIVESTRONG bracelet.

You may have never looked at it this way, but your company is a brand too. Just as engineering firms, manufacturers, professional services, and distributors – when given a unique identity – are also brands. And if you’re reading this newsletter, chances are that your brand is really a brand behind a brand. In fact, the vast majority of companies in America are just that. They are one, two, or even three steps removed from a big brand. Brands behind brands often function in the supply chain or support system for a larger brand; and they tend to lack household name distinction.

In recent marketing history, BASF is one of the first companies I can recall that stepped out into the spotlight with the message: “We don’t make the things you buy. We make the things you buy better.”

Brands behind the brands are the cogs in the wheel that either play a specific role (a niche), or provide a product or service that larger brands have elected not to supply, or simply can’t.

A friend of mine walked into our office one day and saw a bunch of Snapple containers lying around. He asked with amazement, “Wow! You’re working with Snapple? That must be an awesome account!” I explained, “Well, we actually work with the company that makes the aluminum containers used for Snapple’s energy drink product called Elements.” In this scenario,one of the many brands that support a bigger brand like Snapple.

If someone asked you what types of companies you worked for, you would most likely cite your biggest customers, and your best-known customers (or brands). Why? Because name recognition matters. And the fact that your company works for a well-known brand name says something about your company. The same thinking can be applied to big brands that have a need for products and services from small and mid-sized brands. They want to work with companies that have a great reputation, a great “name” in their respective area of expertise. Just like you want to have some well-known names on your roster, big companies want trusted partners with great reputations on their rosters.

So if “brand” means distinct entity, “branding” then refers to all the actions a brand takes to communicate its unique message. This includes advertising, promotions, direct marketing, web presence, public relations, events, and all other forms of communication used by a distinct entity to communicate with its audiences. All these messages, when delivered with focus and repetition to an audience, create a lasting mental impression.

You don’t have to be big to be a great brand. And the process starts with a little focus and introspection to single out the one most important value your brand represents to the people who matter most – the customers you have today, and the ones you want tomorrow.


 Ed Delia
 Public Relations

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