What do Intel, Southwest Airlines, Snickers and Starbucks all have in common? Their products have tremendously strong brand names. To maximize the sales of a product or service, the brand must be instantly recognizable, remembered and appealing.
Your goal as a vending or office beverage operator is to guarantee that when a personnel, purchasing or office manager decides it's time to change vending, foodservice or beverage suppliers, that your name will be at the top of his or her mind.
Vending operators and office beverage companies by in large do not utilize advertising or mass marketing programs to promote their companies. Many times in our industry, a vending operation's name is remembered by the personnel manager simply because of the calls the direct sales person makes to the prospect or through direct mail.
But do we actually know what methods of advertising have been the most successful in securing new business? Is our "brand" basically our company name on the side of our trucks, if anywhere at all?
Branding takes constant work
In order for us to keep our company name at "top of mind" with our current and prospective customers, we need to create and promote our brand constantly, every day.
There are various definitions of the word "brand."
My definition of "brand" is that it is the unique identifier that correlates to ar company and to a product or service.
Your company name, logo, color scheme and tag line all can be a part of your "brand." It is what makes people remember you and what you do.
Brands communicate who you are
Your brand is meant to create awareness, to promote your high-quality image of your company, and to communicate your message of what makes you different from your competition.
If your brand is successful in accomplishing these items with your current customers, then "word-of-mouth" advertising will occur for you.
Many times a vending or office beverage account is obtained simply because two people from different companies begin talking about who they use for these services and a recommendation occurrs. This is why your company must be "top of mind" with not only the decision maker of a particular company, but also the people who use the machines or service.
Business-to-consumer and B-2-B
Even though we interact and sell daily to the general public, vending operations and office beverage companies are considered business-to-business (B-2-B) operations, and thus our brand promotion strategy will be different from a business-to-consumer strategy.
An example of a business-to- consumer company would be a candy company, your local bank, or an automobile manufacturer. An example of business-to-business company would be companies like microprocessor chip manufacturers, uniform companies, and yes, vending, foodservice and office beverage operations.
The general public normally is not the final decision maker in the purchasing of these products or services. The type of business you are will partially dictate the type of media that you will use to promote your brand. However, other areas such as color schemes may apply to both types of businesses.
Consider your firm's full visibility
One example of a company I saw promoting their brand occurred on a trip this year to Boston, Mass. The company was Citizen Bank. This is a company that could be considered both a business-to-business and a business-to-consumer type of company. I noticed two things that they did to promote their brand.
The first thing was the ATM located at the airport. It was not just a typical ATM with a small decal on it naming the "host" bank. It was surrounded with extra area treatment that included their green color scheme and logo.
The other place I saw their brand was on the toll booth as I left the airport. Right next to the "fast lane" sign for the prepaid users was the Citizen Bank logo.
Citizen Bank paid a lot of money to have their name located on this sign. But the point is that in a short period of time from when I landed at the airport to when I left the airport, I noticed their brand name twice.