Blog for Building Materials Companies

The Decreasing Value of Brands in Building Materials

  |  Posted in Branding

The Decreasing Value of Brands in Building Materials

I walked by this truck and it made me think about the changing role of brands in building materials.

It used to be that a manufacturer’s brand was more important than the contractor’s, distributor’s, dealer’s and builder’s brands. They could enhance their own brands by associating themselves with a manufacturer with a strong brand. 

This Fastenal truck stood out to me because this is a rare occurrence today where most customers are only going to feature their brand.

Homebuilders used to more actively promote the branded products they used as a way of showing homebuyers they were building higher quality homes.

That has changed. Building material company brands aren’t as important as they used to be. Here’s why:

1. Distributors, dealers, big-boxes, contractors and homebuilders became focused on building their own brands and making them more important than the manufacturer’s brand.

2. Most building material manufacturers didn’t manage their brands very well. They assumed that the value of their brand was based primarily on how well-known they were. Then, they assumed they could charge more simply because they were well known.

How to Enhance the Value of Your Building Materials Brand

The first and most important step is to recognize that consumers, dealers, distributors, big boxes and builders all assign a different value to your brand.

Being well known gives your brand some value, but it’s not a great amount of value to a channel customer. If they find it easier to deal with a lesser-known company, especially if they can make more profit with them, they will gladly work a little harder to sell the lesser-known brand.

Being the leading brand usually means you have become so full of yourself that you think the customer needs you more than you need them. That may be true in the short term, but this attitude just makes it easier for your smaller competitors to take sales from you – and then you won’t remain the leader for long.

Your Brand Means Different Things to Different Types of Customers

If you’re the leading brand and customers ask for your product by name, you certainly have an advantage. If at the same time you are difficult to deal with and will sell to anyone and everyone so your channel customer can’t make a profit, you will have a negative brand image with your channel customers.

I see many distributors and dealers carry leading brands because they have to. At the same time, I watch as they switch customers to brands they prefer dealing with.

I learned this lesson years ago from my father. He was the advertising manager of Cooper Tires and I would ask him, “How can you compete with big brands like Firestone and Goodyear?”

He told me, “It’s easy. I let them get more people interested in buying new tires. I then get the tire dealers to show their customers why a Cooper Tire is a better value.”

He focused the value of the brand on the tire dealer with better customers service rather than the big brands and the opportunity to make more profit. He also invested in training the tire dealer salespeople so he would be sure they knew how to sell a Firetsone or Goodyear customer on a lesser-known brand.

Give Your Brand the Right Kind of Value

If you’re a leader in your category, reevaluate the value of your brand to each type of customer. Find out where you are vulnerable and fix it.

If you’re a smaller brand, focus on becoming the brand that channel customers would rather deal with.

What can you do that would make you such an important, integral or key part of your customer’s business that they couldn’t imagine doing business without you?

If you want to enhance the value of your building materials brand, consider what each type of customer values and give it to them.


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Thanks for the following comments.  I’d like to hear your feedback and suggestions on how to sell architects.

“Great words of wisdom every week, thanks Mark. I save every post, when I struggle I often review and find motivation.

Chris Evans
Manager Sales
Savannah Heating Products Ltd.

“Great words of wisdom every week, thanks Mark. I save every post, when I struggle I often review and find motivation. “    –Chris Evans, Manager Sales, Savannah Heating Products Ltd.

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About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.