When we think of branding, we often think of things like the Nike swoosh on the side of a shoe, the green straw sticking out the top of your Starbucks cup, or the bowtie on the grill of a Chevy pickup truck.

But what do you do with a brand that has no obvious visual representation?

How do you build brand desire for a product that isn’t visibly distinguishable from competing brands?

How do you help consumers become inadvertent advocates for a brand with no visible brand mark? (Inadvertent Advocate – someone who implies an endorsement of your brand by regularly using it in front of other potential customers.)

Follow the lead of Tiffany & Co.

At first glance, most jewelry looks like most jewelry. So, Tiffany & Co. did two things.

They developed a few pieces of jewelry that are distinctively theirs, such as their tag necklaces. Interestingly, these recognizable pieces are not necessarily their most expensive items. In fact, some of them are the brand’s more affordable and casual items, increasing how often these pieces are worn and seen.

They consistently play up the trademark Tiffany Blue Box that has come to signify tradition, quality, and luxury whenever it’s given or received as a gift. The box has become such a powerful symbol of the brand, that it is often used as the main visual in marketing materials, sometime without showing any jewelry at all.

Be the “inside” brand.

Until Intel started making a big deal about it, few people knew or cared what processor was powering their computer. But thanks to four recognizable chimes and two powerful words: Intel Inside, consumers everywhere have decided that having an Intel processor is the only way to ensure you have a fast and reliable computer.

How’d they do it?

They made a good product. Always helps to be marketing, selling, and branding a quality product.

They paid (via co-op advertising dollars) computer companies to highlight that they use Intel processors. And since consumers saw these recognizable computer brands highlighting that they use Intel processors, most consumers automatically assumed that these processors must be really good.

They consistently delivered the same visual and audio message whenever communicating to consumers. The consistency of this message played a key role in creating a highly recognizable and respected brand from what was once a brand most consumers had never heard of, in a specific product category to which most people previously paid very little attention.

Add a sparkling drop of retsin.

Decades ago, to differentiate Certs from other breath mints, the marketing people at Certs started highlighting the ingredient “retsin,” which is actually just a proprietary mix of vegetable oil and flavoring. It’s not necessarily proven in any way to give a user fresher breath. It’s simply something that Certs could claim was unique to their product.

What’s unique about your product or service? Or, what could be a unique claim you could make about your product? Is there some part of your brand’s history, manufacturing, service mix, solution process, or product components that will communicate a difference and imply a superiority to your competitor’s claims?

And the thing you highlight doesn’t need to be something that no one else does or has. It simply needs to be two things.

Something that clearly implies quality/superiority.

Something that no one else is talking about. (Take a few minutes to read Obvious Adams for a great fictional example of this concept.)

Find your own solution.

Your company is not Tiffany, Intel, Certs, or the unnamed bond paper company in Obvious Adams. However, you can learn and gain inspiration from their examples.

Can you develop an instantly recognizable version of your product? Or a trademark add-on? Can you legitimately position yourself as the quality leader in a low-interest category? Is there something interesting or unique about your process that your prospects are likely to be unaware of? Can you get your channel partners and customers to endorse your product by using it as proof of their quality?

Not sure? We can help. Let’s talk. Weber Associates is the frontline firm that blurs the line between marketing and sales consulting to help clients sell products and services that require education, established relationships, trust, multiple decision makers, channel partners, or other elements that can create a complex selling environment.


Obvious Adams: