The 4 Distinctions of Private Labeling
“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business”
- Steve Forbes
As decision makers, there comes a time when you reach an impasse. You want a product or service to augment your brand and further develop your customer base. You look at your current resource allocation and realize that you have neither the capacity nor expertise to build such a product. So you do what any rational decision maker would do, you buy it from someone else.
Then concern creeps in. You care about your brand. You’ve spent years building it. Your customers love it. Your investors swell with pride over it. You cannot live without it.
Insert private labeling. The art of using a product or service that was developed by someone else and customizing it to your brand.
But branding is difficult work and you need to ensure that you have a product that is 100% yours. Everything you have built depends on it.
How do you know that your product will be undeniably yours? Below are four key distinctions that define a true private label:
Once you’ve made the choice to go private label, an intense partnership is created. Entrusting your brand, values, and messages to a third-party can be uneasy. Knowing that a company will collaborate, consult, and seek to learn every angle about your brand is important. There is no private label process without collaboration. The two sides must create synergy in order to deliver a truly unique offering.
Fact finding, creative briefs, historical analysis, and goal setting all define a collaborative approach.
Without extensive collaboration, you likely won’t end up with a private label.
You will end up with window dressing.
Branding is one of the primary reasons an organization will opt for private label. It wants to keep its brand intact. The concept of branding however, is difficult to grasp. A brand is beyond a unique logo or color scheme. A brand is a manifestation of everything a company represents. It’s both tangible and intangible. It’s the summation of emotions, feelings, interactions, and memories.
Branding is why, despite tests proving that Pepsi tastes better, Coca-Cola finds itself in more homes and hands than any other carbonated beverage. It’s why customers camp out in droves at Apple for the release of the new iPhone when countless lower cost products sit on shelves. It’s why fans go shirtless in sub-zero temperatures in Green Bay on a Sunday afternoon when a perfectly good parka sells for as low as $50 on Amazon.
The Coca-Cola, Apple, and Packer logo alone do not drive this fanaticism. It’s deeper. It’s not a color scheme, it’s a connection.
Private labeling goes beyond the physical attributes. It captures the essence of your unique, intangible qualities. It’s not logo placement. It’s loyalty building.
The best brands in the world provide consistent experiences across channels. There is a flawless experience from the television ad, to the retail store, to the customer complaint department.
This provides continuity in your brand and reinforces your message.
Continuity is defined as the consistent and unbroken operation of something over a period of time. If you start with a brand experience and quickly see the experience change, it lacks continuity. It lacks true branding.
Brand expert Denise Lee Yohn advises, “humans are genetically hardwired to notice differences and differences are what attract people to your brand in the first place”.
Your customers will notice the differences your brand represents and choose you.
Be careful, however. They will also notice the differences when you don’t offer a continuous experience. This will detract from your brand integrity and your customers will see through it.
Ask any well-dressed man. There is a big difference putting on a suit straight from the rack and one that is expertly crafted to fit your unique shape and size. One is made for anyone, the other is made just for you. It’s original.
Tailor made specifications are the defining hallmark of private labeling. Taking a standard product and changing out colors and pictures is no different than changing your Facebook cover graphic. It’s your picture, but it’s the same Facebook page for everyone.
Private labeling goes beyond aesthetics and builds features that address your specific needs. This is established in the collaboration phase when the partnership is being built.
A generic solution cannot truly address every individual need and nuance you have. That’s why it’s so important to find a partner that can tailor make settings to completely craft your brand experience from end-to-end.
It’s your brand. Your message. Don’t settle for a half-brand. Always look for these four distinctions when choosing a partner to build your private label solution.
After all, it’s the most important investment you can ever make.