If there’s one area where IT service providers disagree, it’s on the topic of branding. I’ve mentioned in past articles that one of the most common forms of branding many channel companies still hold fast to is “word of mouth” or referral marketing. But, even among those with more formalized marketing programs, there are conflicting schools of thought about best practices. For example, some feel strongly that “co-branding” themselves with their vendor partners is the best form of branding. This would be akin to a consumer brand using a professional athlete, musician, or movie star to endorse its product.
This is a tried and true form of branding for consumer companies. But, when it comes to promoting your channel business and differentiating yourself from your competitors, it’s important to know when it’s appropriate to use — and when to lose — your vendors’ brands. Neal Bradbury, VP of Channel Development and a Co-Founder at cloud-based backup and recovery provider Intronis offers timely advice on this topic in his latest article: Brand Says Everything About Your Business:
“When you sell a white-labeled IT bundle, all the vendor management details stay where they belong: between you and your vendors. There’s no need to explain things to your customers or change the messaging on your website every time you want to explore your options and make a change. On the flip side, if the RFP requires a select vendor and you happen to be a premier partner — market your expertise and go the distance to get a supporting quote from that vendor for inclusion in the proposal.”
The fact is that it takes time and repetition to build your brand. And, if you’re like most service providers, you’re going to have turnover among your vendors. Brand your name and your expertise instead of your vendors, and when you need to make a vendor switch, you won’t be starting all over with your brand building.