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What Brands Do for Business

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Walk around any marketing conference and you can hear folks talking about brand. Typically much of the discussion centers around brand tactics: how to create a brand identity, how to build brand messages, how to test for brand penetration, and how to implement a brand, etc. The question I often get from company leaders is more along the lines of: what should a brand actually do for a professional services firm. In other words, "Why bother?"

In my estimation:
Brands increase sales effectiveness: If a potential buyer says, "I know your company– you have a reputation for doing a great job and treating clients well," you'll be in much better shape than if they say, "Now who are you again and why are you here?" Also, we all know that large buying decisions have multiple people influencing the purchase from the buyer side. When your prospect asks around and hears, "Yes, I've been following their research for years. They're a leader in the space," or "I've worked with them before–they're as solid as they come," it'll be much better for you than if they hear a chorus of "Nope–never heard of them," or worse.
Brands help generate leads: If a prospect knows and respects your company and reputation, they'll be more likely to accept when they get an invitation to an event, an invitation to download a new white paper, or a telephone call to see if they'd like to have lunch and discuss business. If they've never heard of you, the messages can often go unnoticed and untouched. (Until the messages build up enough over time and they've seen them for a while, but then you're starting to establish a brand–) Research supports this argument.
Brands create premium fees and pricing: It may be basic, but buyers are looking for services firms to do what they'll say they're going to do. If your brand and reputation a) creates a promise for what the buyer can expect from you, and b) supports the belief that you deliver on your promises, you'll garner higher fees.
Brands help you beat competition: If a buyer knows he's going to get top quality, high output, reduced risk, leaders and thinkers, or whatever your brand is they often value that over the lowest price. Without distinct criteria for them to evaluate what you will do versus someone else, or knowledge that what you say is, indeed, what they'll experience from you, price often becomes a central factor.
Brands facilitate repeat business: When buyers know what to expect from interactions with you, that you keep your promises and that you deliver at and above their expectations, they're less likely to switch or stop buying. Boil it down, and a brand is simply the degree to which a buyer prefers to purchase from you versus other options available to them.
Brands draw strong labor pools: In good economies and bad, services firms need to hire the best people they can possibly find. Brands are often a force in attracting the best job candidates and getting them to accept positions at your company versus the others.
Brands increase the value of a company: As discussed throughout, brands help create premium fees, new business leads, strong sales, strong labor pools, and other benefits. These are long-term financial advantages. These advantages translate into higher market value and company valuation, especially because of how long it takes to establish a brand from scratch. This point may only be interesting to the owners of a business, but, then again, they often hold the purse strings and keys to success for brand and marketing initiatives.

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Mike Schultz, President of the Wellesley Hills Groupis world-renowned as a consultant and expert in services marketing and rainmaking. His practice focuses on strategy for service and technology businesses in the areas of branding, marketing, and lead generation.

Along with his client practice and management responsibilities, Mike is the Publisher of, the premier online source for insight, advice, and tools for growing a service business. Mike has led from a startup to the leading online magazine focused on marketing and selling for professional services.

Mike is a well-known speaker in his areas of expertise, delivering keynotes and speeches for such organizations as MarketingSherpa, Business Marketing Association, American Marketing Association, Direct Marketing Association, CPAmerica, Association of Accounting Marketing, Society for Marketing Professional Services, and a number of major colleges and universities.

Over 60 publications such as Business Week, Inc. Magazine, Publisher's Weekly, Sales and Marketing Management Magazine, and others have featured Mike's original articles and white papers, and frequently quote him as an expert. Mike’s most recent research work includes Making Lead Generation Work for Professional Services, How Clients Buy: The Benchmark Report on Marketing and Selling Professional Services, and What's Working in Lead Generation: The Benchmark Report on How to Spend Your Time, Energy, and Money for the Best Marketing ROI in B2B Professional Services.

Mike’s clients include: Fidelity Investments, Communico, Monitor Group, Mellon Financial, John Hancock Financial, Dun and Bradstreet, Deep Customer Connections, Fleet Financial, Everon Technology Services, Trustee Leadership Development, and many other professional services organizations of all sizes.

Mike is a graduate of Brandeis University in Waltham, MA with a B.A. in American Studies, and holds an M.B.A. from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College (where he often returns to deliver specialized classes to graduate students). Mike also enjoys fly fishing and golf, and actively studies and teaches the traditional martial arts of Kokondo Karate and Jukido Jujitsu, holding the ranks of black belt and Sensei in each.

You can email Mike at or contact him through his website at

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  • by Lewis Green Wed Jan 9, 2008 via blog

    Good post Mike. Don't have much to add; I think you covered the main reasons we need to carefully build brand perception with authenticity, credibility and integrity.

  • by Gwyneth Dwyer Wed Jan 9, 2008 via blog

    Very comprehensive list, Mike. I might add one more: BRANDS BUILD COMMUNITY Strong brands create a community of clients, partners, recommenders, influencers, colleagues, and employees. This community is proud of its association with the brand – and spreads the word, recommending the brand. This is related to Frederick Reichheld's Net Promoter Score: "How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?" When you recommend a brand, you're putting your own reputation on the line – so you'll only do it if you're loyal.

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