Master of One: The Benefits of Microbranding in a Competitive Landscape

Master of One: The Benefits of Microbranding in a Competitive Landscape

As our economic landscape shifts, staying relevant is top-of-mind for many companies. When the economy expands, we can expect business competition to soar; so staying nimble, visible, and adaptable is of high priority.

When re-thinking how to market your company’s services in this landscape, there are two concepts I would highlight: 1) fine-tuned specialization of services and 2) customized integration of those services. No matter the size or structure of your company, these goals can be achieved through strategic  “microbranding." Microbranding is the creation of unique brand identities for individual facets of a company’s service portfolio. Promoting sought-after services as a specialization can help increase visibility and desirability within a saturated market.

First, consider the fundamental sales value of niche specialization. A primary tenet of marketing is identifying your niche market and communicating value to the intended audience. Many potential consumers who survey the marketplace to hire a professional will seek someone highly specialized, and who has a significant amount of experience addressing their specific problem, using up-to-date services and skills. They do not want a jack-of-all-trades; they want a master of one.

If, for example, you were in need of a knee replacement, would you look for a surgical generalist? More likely, you would find an orthopedic surgeon with extensive knee replacement experience who could guarantee the best results. Similarly, if you were looking to build an eco-friendly home, you would want someone well-versed in eco-friendly construction, so hiring General Contractors, LTD  is not as attractive an option as Strictly Solar Build, Inc.

One easy way to communicate specialization to your niche market is to treat each team in your company as its own unique brand (called a microbrand), especially if your company offers a number of services. Creating a specific brand for a particular team can help draw attention to its unique assets and value proposition. Rather than marketing your overall company, market the team that will help a target audience resolve a niche problem. When the client finds your team, they will have an “aha” moment – the satisfaction of hitting the bullseye: a perfect solution to their singular challenge. This might not have occurred had they been forced to sift through the complex roster of services of a large company to find that one thing they needed.

Our creative agency, Haystack Needle, was built around this strategic concept. We are a design and production company that offers a broad range of related services – web design, social media marketing, search optimization and digital reputation management, event production, video production and branding. While each team lives under the Haystack Needle umbrella, we rarely market the company as a whole because we recognize the benefits of promoting a portfolio of microbranded teams of specialists.  We do not want to be perceived as a Haystack-of-all-trades and master-of-none, which is often the takeaway when putting forth a more generalist approach.

We have carefully curated teams of specialists who are highly experienced in their respective fields. Each team is given a unique brand identity to reflect this differentiation. For example, our video team is called Fearless Company, while our social media team is called Sugar Bowl. They each reside under the umbrella of the parent organization, Haystack Needle.  Even though they work together frequently, the individual teams are viewed through a specialized lens; uniquely skilled and qualified SWAT teams in their respective fields. The result? A roster of seven formidable squads, each with its own personality and style… each considered as a master-of-one. 

Along with microbranding comes the important function of customized integration. That is to say, each SWAT team, while specialized and unique, can work in concert with any combination of the other crews, as is called for by a particular project. This bespoke functionality makes the whole Haystack greater than the sum of its needles. As a master brand that contains, supports, and integrates the smaller components, we can adapt, cross-market and present to clients in whichever way we judge most productive and advantageous. Thus, Haystack Needle is like a carefully curated tool box; some projects only need a screwdriver, others need a wrench and a hammer, while others call for every last tool and accessory.

When a single team is being hired, the microbrand is an asset because the client perceives that they have hired the best of the best to meet their needs. Through this process, they often discover the sibling brands and realize that other niche needs could be met with an equal level of rigor and specialization. The strong and positive impression we make with one microbrand gives the client the confidence that our other teams will impress them just as much. This elevates their perception of the umbrella company’s brand as well.

It is also important that these microbrands are separate but equal under the company umbrella. They do not have any hierarchical relationship with each other, and they maintain their own personality, ownership of work, and team pride. Sometimes, we witness friendly competition between the teams, but they ultimately respect each other and recognize that their long-term success depends upon well-orchestrated collaboration. This is how microbranded outfits integrate to support the wellbeing of the organization as a whole.

If you have a company that offers a multitude of services, consider taking advantage of the power of microbranding. Notice natural talent clusters or services within your organization and turn them into microbrands. The team members will take pride in their new identity, which will lead to a sense of ownership and empowerment elevating productivity and ultimately improving your company’s overall brand reputation.

Through this strategy, you will attract new clients seeking specialists, you will boost team morale, you will demonstrate your company’s nimbleness, and most importantly, you will stand out from the crowd, improving your company’s viability and success in the long run.

Townsend Belisle
Founder and CEO at Haystack Needle

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