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Four Ways to Monetize Your Brand Without Charging Your Direct Customers [Slide Show]

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111209-01. Intro

We as marketers consistently talk about brand equity and the power that brings in the way of loyal, frequent customers. There are tremendous benefits in developing a corporate identity that gives clients a sense of the value they get by purchasing an organization's goods or services. All this being common knowledge, companies may want to consider ways to actually monetize the brand directly and actually generate revenue from it.

Best of all, many organizations can make this happen without ever charging their customers one penny more. It calls for leveraging the brand's equity to help boost partners or other firms. This is a common occurrence, but one that is often overlooked by the casual observer. Here are four examples of what I mean.

111209-02. 1. Seal of Approval

1. Seal of Approval

Hearst's Good Housekeeping Magazine is a prime illustration of how companies can offer organizations the opportunity to receive a de facto certification by placing their logo on its packaging. The publication has been doing this for more than a century and with great success. Businesses still put out press releases when they receive the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval."

111209-03. 2. Licensing

2. Licensing

Organizations often allow strategic partners use of their logo and brand for several purposes. Major college and universities, such as Notre Dame, do this with apparel manufacturers as well as food and beverage companies to develop products for similar, if not identical, markets to their own. A host of schools also partner with financial institutions to offer credit cards. The examples are endless.

111209-04. 3. Referral Network

3. Referral Network

You see this a lot in the service industries, where companies that complement, but do not directly compete, set up referral networks and associated "finder's fees" to incentivize other firms to recommend them if the opportunity presents itself. It can make for a nice additional revenue stream for some businesses, particularly in the law, accounting, or insurance fields. It helps when you have two strong brands that can lend a credible endorsement to the other. 1-800-Dentist comes immediately to mind.

111209-05. 4. 'Powered by' Initiatives

4. 'Powered by' Initiatives

We're seeing this strategy work for numerous local and regional media companies that have taken over the Internet presence management duties for organizations. Companies that lend their technical expertise can generate significant revenues from other businesses. For example, Yahoo! Search Marketing Results has been powered by Bing for a year now.

While not the primary purpose of investing in a brand, organizations that have created a strong following and likable identity can find ways to profit from it without nickel-and-diming their existing customer base. What's more, these initiatives can not only pay for themselves but also further extend the awareness and interest in a company. And that, as brand diva Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing.

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David Oates is president of Stalwart Communications, a San Diego-based pay-on-performance marketing and public relations agency. He can be reached via david@stalwartcom.com or via Twitter.

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