We really like a lot of what we see an read from the Sticky Branding Group , so you may see a fair amount of references to them here as we go on. Definitely worth checking out their site.
Recently, Sticky Branding published an article that struck home for us in the hospitality tabletop evangelism business. SB's article was about how frankly - boring and tired - B2B branding often is and for the need to passionately differentiate your brand in the B2B world. Funny, that's how we often feel about tabletop hospitality.
Here's what we're talking about......in our foodservice and hospitality world......
Question: If you're a restaurateur....what makes your plain white tabletop, with the "generic" flatware and glassware so spectacularly different than your competitors?
Answer: Nothing. Our guess is your guests' dining experience isn't that much different either. ("Hi. My name is Bob and I'm your server tonight.") Oh...that's right...you don't need to worry about differentiating your tabletop. Your food is SO MUCH BETTER than your competitors. Remember....you are not in the food business....it's really the experience business you're in.
Question: You're offering pretty much the same tabletop products as every other source, including the internet (thank God Al Gore invented it!) so what makes you so special?
Answer: Not much, really. You go to the same trade shows as your competitors....have the same basic sales people (some good, a few great...but most average or below - be honest!).... and, are looking to "take costs out" of the supply chain like your competitors. Do you wonder why your margins at the street level are shrinking? If you're an E&S-only dealer, how much different are you than the large food houses -really?
Question: Are the products you are offering truly that much different than the other 35 manufacturers in your category?
Answer: RARELY. Is your glassware truly different? How about your plain white china? Oh...I'm sure operators really think that YOUR Baguette flatware is soooo much better than everyone else's! Right. The buffet category is the latest category full of "me too" products. When you go to your next good trade show, really look at just how many people are offering pretty much the same things your company is selling. Then, try to figure how your brand can be TRULY different. Attendees at shows are looking to be excited. Instead, it's often the "same ol' same ol'"...aisle after aisle, ... after aisle.
IMPORTANT: When we don't passionately differentiate ourselves and our brand - whether you are a restaurateur....a dealer....or, especially a manufacturer.....it invariably comes down to price. Check average....invoice amount....gross profits....sales commission....all shrinking for those who don't offer something different.
Here's some good stuff from Sticking Branding that speaks to the issue of passionately differentiating your B2B brand. If you'd like more customers, higher check averages, or better sales commissions...you may want to check it out:
Black Cow Media
Branding for the real world
Sites We Like...A Lot