Ego And Branding have strolled side by side since the dawn of time. We all admire and sell brands that include the names of the founders or owners. Sometimes they are designers or artisans whose creativity merits everyone knowing who the genius behind the brand is. I get it. We all do. The marketplace is replete with the relics of brands whose egos got in the way of creating, updating, or selling great products.
Some companies get it, some don’t. I learned the lesson the hard way growing up when a family business my last name was too long to have ownership in, purchased several of their local competitors. A year or so after the mergers, a decision was made by my uncle to add a sign under all the older store signs of those acquired stores, “A division of Gart Bros”. It was a bad move and I said so at the time. The decision was made of ego, not enlightenment. My uncle had won the sporting goods wars in Colorado and wanted everyone to know it.
There was a reason people shopped those other stores and the moment he put it out there in bright lights for everyone to see that those stores we part of our family chain, business in those stores went down. Like it or not, not everyone wants to do business with you…or me. We all have competitors. We always have, we always will, we always should. In this case, people started shopping at other smaller local shops.
It would have been better to leave well enough alone. To let the marketplace remain willfully ignorant. (All the purchases and mergers were front-page stories of the newspapers and TV news at the time) It would have been better to allow money to come into the right pocket, the left pocket, every pocket, under a variety of names.
That is not to say we should have hidden ownership of those other stores or chains. Think Toyota. They own the Lexus brand. They make no secret of it. However, they don’t put a division of Toyota in every advertisement or on every dealer sign. The same for Volkswagen, who owns Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini, Bugatti, and Bentley. Can you imagine what would happen to sales of any of those brands if the VW badge were a prominent part of their brand names?
We all know Luxottica owns a large number of brands. The same with Marchon, Marcolin, Safilo, etc. They too don’t hide the fact they own a number of brands, but neither do they feel the urge of ego to have to put “a division of” on everything they do. Hopefully, they never will. The same can be said of the equity buyouts that are happening more and more in the optical business. People have gone to their local optometrist for years. If they suddenly find they are now doing business with a soulless bank instead of their long-trusted optical shop, they will very likely start looking elsewhere.
Facebook announced recently they would be adding “from Facebook” to two and perhaps more of their other products, WhatsApp and Instagram. Facebook purchased WhatsApp, a freeware messenger service in 2014 for $19.3 billion and Instagram for just over $1billion is 2012. Facebook this weekend affirmed that both products will now be branded as being part of Facebook. Over the past several years people have often said things like “Facebook is too intrusive and not concerned with privacy…I will be shutting down my Facebook. You can now follow me on Instagram.” Facebook wasn’t losing a customer, they were just shifting to another property. With the affiliation soon to be a part of the branding of both services, those who don’t like Facebook will now find completely independent platforms to conduct their social media.
Ego is a powerful emotion. Don’t let it get in the way of your business. Brand wisely.