So, I think of brand in terms of attention and leverage. Attention is our most valuable asset long term.
The value of brand is in accumulating peoples’ attention over time, The end.
The first thing you need in order to tell your story is someone willing to listen.
The more trusting attention you have, the better your brand. If your target audience has no idea who you are, then you don’t have a good brand.
In terms of leverage, a company with brand has tipped the scales to where customers are seeking them out…Mercedes or McDonald’s. A company without brand has to continuously push or sell themselves to win business.
Here’s a real-life example of the impact of brand:
I’m fascinated by what seems to be a normal thing in the Golf Course Management industry.
Basically, golf courses hire management companies when they feel like they’re not winning. Either privately owned clubs or member owned facilities tend to miss out on economies of scale, buying power, and more refined processes. One option is to hire a management company to come in and refine the system and help them compete.
The interesting thing is that nearly all golf facilities in this scenario refuse to display their golf management company logo on property.
From the club’s perspective, it’s totally understandable. The club’s brand and logo simply carry more weight in the local marketplace. If the management logo isn’t bringing any value to the club, why would they want it?
This is crazy to me…and really an amazing opportunity for management companies right now I believe.
Club Management is a Lot Like a Franchise Relationship
So, there are two big reasons that someone starting up a new restaurant would choose to buy into a franchise…Think Subway, Outback, or McDonald’s:
1) Operating Efficiency:
On one side, the processes, operating efficiencies, buying power, and access to resources and expertise. They’ll get up and running quickly, and with a lot less brain damage than if they had gone it alone and they can run a tighter ship.
2) Brand Recognition:
They know that they’ll win business on day 1 that they wouldn’t have otherwise won if they had started out as Jimmy’s Hamburger Shop.
Done right, the brand part of buying into McDonald’s is far more valuable than their processes for making hamburgers.
Nobody would dream of buying into the McDonald’s franchise without stamping the logo everywhere on property. I know it’s not allowed. The logo is the biggest reason people buy into the franchise anyway…
The marketing is done for you, everyone knows the value proposition, what they’re going to get, cost structure, and everything else. Buy into Subway, and you’re going to have people in your store on day 1.
Will the Club Management Dynamic Ever Change?
As things stand right now, I doubt it.
…the minute a management company’s brand begins bringing direct value to the facility at the local level, meaning bringing bodies in the door, clubs will line up to buy into that ecosystem and capitalize on the attention.
That’s when the scales tip for the management company. Until then, it’ll be a battle to get the name on the door.
I really believe the “land grab” we’re seeing right now for market share in the golf management industry is going to predicated on strength of brand rather than who’s got the best “processes” or “buying power”.
Process, scale and expertise are table stakes, not differentiators anymore.
How do build brand?
That’s actually a really easy answer.
I believe that anything you do as a company that DELIVERS VALUE to your audience is building your brand.
Any time you attempt to EXTRACT VALUE, you’re incrementally hurting your brand.
You’re always either selling or building brand.
Beware of your Messaging Mix
I see a lot of companies sacrificing the long term (think customer lifetime value) in exchange for quick wins now.
They’re on the “sales hamster wheel” because continuously trying to extract value from your audience is never cumulative.
I see a lot more content around “hey, come buy our shit” instead of simply trying to be good citizens, winning trust, listening, and building authority for the long term.
I think companies need to think really hard about the mix of content that they’re putting out there. Is the ratio of “Gives” vs. “Asks” where it should be?