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Brand architecture

TM_BrandArch-BlogPost

There it is. Your Head of Sales just said it: “Our clients have no idea how much we have to offer.”

It’s the telltale sign that something is wrong with the way you present your products, services or solutions.

Maybe you’ve been growing your business, adding products and services, new buyers, new markets, without thinking about how these offerings work together to tell the story of what you offer and why it is better than what competitors offer.

Maybe yours is a product-focused vs solutions or market-focused company.

Maybe you serve many different types of customers, have a variety of distribution channels, or serve a variety of geographic markets.

Whichever the case, your prospects’ lack of understanding is starting to show up in longer sales cycles, pricing pressure or simply lost sales.

Ask yourself: From the point of view of our customers, are our products and services clearly defined, named and organized?

Go ahead and look. We’ll wait.

If you’re like most organizations in growth mode (or if your company has been built over many years and offers a full portfolio of offerings), chances are good your portfolio is a mix of things-that-should-have-names-but-don’t and things-that-shouldn’t-have-names-but-do. When you look at how your offerings are organized, you see a confusion of:

  • Brands and sub-brands
  • Product families that describe but do not differentiate (e.g. Wealth Management Solutions, Insurance Solutions, etc.)
  • Product families that differentiate but do not describe (e.g. “Wealth-Makers”)
  • Tiers and bundles of offerings
  • Offerings with evocative names and offerings without

What gets in the way of clarity?

It’s easy to answer: Bureaucracy. And you will be right! You value your teams for how they can get together behind a product and take it to market. You’ll value them even more for how they can get together behind market needs and drive a portfolio of solutions that serve the market best. The first approach creates fiefdoms that make cross-selling almost impossible. The second approach helps you see your portfolio more holistically for the benefits it brings to customers.

This last is where you need to start. The organization of your portfolio should show you understand what’s going on in the daily life of your customer. It should make it as easy as possible for your customers to know what unique offerings you have available. It should make it as easy as possible for your sales team to position those offerings.

Here are 5 key questions to ask about your portfolio:

  1. Are we making it as easy as possible for prospects to understand and remember all we have to offer? What is our organizing principle for our portfolio and how does it reflect the unique capabilities we bring to the table that others do not? (An organizing principle might be as simple as types of offerings (e.g. shirts, ties, jackets) or a more advanced, benefit-focused organization by process, methodology or lifecycle).
  2. Do we have a logical framework for the naming of products, services and solutions that help prospects see how offerings relate to one another/fit together?
  3. Are we clear how we stage offerings when offerings are tiered (good, better, best) or bundled? Do prospects know the purchase path through the portfolio—what they should buy first, second, third?
  4. Do brand names, whether descriptive names or evocative names, bring out the differentiating benefit of the parent or corporate brand? The differentiating benefit of the offering itself?
  5. Does our portfolio tell a story? Beyond simple stories of “end-to-end” or “single source,” how can the portfolio – the sum of how it is organized and the offerings within it—help you position your firm as the sole provider of unique and compelling benefits?

Think strategically about how you package and present your portfolio and you can help your prospects see the bigger picture to make it easier to buy.

It’s time to help your customers know all you have to offer.

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