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When it comes to branding, ‘where’ the critical factor

Everyone has heard the word “branding,” but no one really understands what it means in terms of its everyday power — not even the people who write books on it.

Let me give you an example. I was at the Omni Houston Hotel in Texas. When I went into the shower in the morning, I dried off with their huge towel. It was big, and real pretty. I thought to myself, “Boy, this is a nice towel. I think this towel might be as nice as the ones I use at home. Maybe even a little nicer.”

So I went downstairs to my seminar, and asked 150 people in my audience who were also staying at the hotel, “How many of you bathed this morning?” (I suggested everybody raise their hand, even if they didn’t bathe, to pretend like they did.) Then I held up the towel from my room and asked, “How many people used this nice, fluffy towel?” Everyone raised their hand.

Then I asked, “How many of you thought to yourself, when you were drying off, Hey, these towels are better than the ones I have at home?” More than half the audience raised their hands. I said, “I know this is a surprise to you, but sometimes people take this towel from the hotel, and bring it home — without telling anybody. Yeah, they steal it. Isn’t that interesting?” (large audience laugh)

So, I mused with the audience, “How many towels do you think this hotel loses from people ‘taking them home’ annually? My estimate is about 10,000 a year. Ten thousand towels they lose, because someone steals them.”

Then I asked, holding up the towel, “When people get this towel home, how would they know they stole it from the Omni Houston Hotel in Texas?” I looked at the towel, and asked the audience, “What is missing?” And someone yelled out, “Their name!” Right! People are taking 10,000 of these towels home and nobody knows where they got them. Is that dumb, or what?

Some lame-brain in purchasing said, “No, let’s not spend the extra 50 cents that it takes to put our name on the towel. Let’s be cheap, stupid idiots, and let people steal them without our name on it.”

What kind of lost branding opportunity is that? A BIG ONE. Why don’t they embroider the towels nice and pretty with “Omni Houston Hotel” and a little sign on the bathroom that says, “Buy one, steal one free.” Why don’t they do that? Answer: Because they aren’t thinking. That’s the real answer. They’re not thinking “branding,” they’re thinking “cost of towel.”

I continued the lesson, “So a few weeks ago, I was at The Greenbrier. It’s a really fancy resort in White Sulpher Springs, W. Va. I go into the bathroom, and all the towels have a ‘G’ on them. I’m thinking to myself, G…Gitomer. They have towels with MY initial on them. Big fluffy ones. Right there in the hotel. So I took this one (I held up the “G” towel, big audience laugh), I had to take it — it had my initial on it. I had to take it.

Even though they had great, embroidered towels right there in the bathroom, there was no offer to buy them. And just like the Omni Houston Hotel, they didn’t brand them either. I’m going to call The Greenbrier, pay for this towel, and get a whole set. I don’t care how much they cost, because they have the “G” on them. I’ll also give them my sales idea.

My challenge to you is: What are you doing with your brand that you could put onto everyday items or your own product, even if you buy it from somebody else? It would give you the opportunity to become better known, and be in front of your customer every single day.

The towel stays in the shower, the towel stays in the bathroom, and the towel is there for years. I see the name every time I use it. ASK YOURSELF THIS: Where is your name on the stuff that your customers will keep in front of them forever?

Let me share something with you. Not only can you create a memorable brand, you can also (with the proper branding item) make your competition hate your guts when they see it around town. Is that cool or what?

GitBit: If you need more ideas on how to develop your brand, go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first time user, and enter the word BRANDING in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail


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