Brands can struggle getting beyond communicating the features they provide – which are often identical to their competitors’ features. This limitation means they never create compelling demonstrations of the benefits and brand value they can deliver.

In contrast, while developing my presentation on “New Product Launch Failures” for the PR Consultants Group conference recently, I rediscovered this FedEx advertisement from the late 1990s in a previous presentation. While we used the FedEx advertisement internally to communicate the importance of performance for our transportation company, the ad is also a fantastic example of a B2B brand making its brand value very clear AND very personal.


Turning Your Brand Value into Real Terms

Rather than name a competitor and point out features where FedEx is better or discuss defects in the competitor’s features, the FedEx advertisement took a different approach. The FedEx advertisement paints a stark, memorable contrast between the implications of choosing a less reliable and (an implied) less costly option than FedEx. The advertisement conveys a deep, damning view of the personal implications (in a B2B brand situation) when a shipping company fails to deliver the necessary and expected brand benefits a business seeks when shipping its goods. The prospect of saving a few dollars by not selecting FedEx and thus risking any or all of the thirty bad things that could happen (as listed in the advertisement) doesn’t seem like an attractive trade-off at all.

Price Isn’t the Only Item in the Brand Value Equation

Value-Equation-FormulaWe faced this talking to a potential client who countered our proposal by saying the organization had a local university professor prepare its previous strategic plan. The university professor didn’t charge anything, so the organization’s leadership believes it shouldn’t cost very much to develop a strategic plan.

Of course, this was quickly followed by admitting the plan didn’t work in moving the organization forward. I pointed out price isn’t the only factor in the value equation, and, as this organization experienced, even “free” can be a bad value since they wound up “paying” in lost opportunity and strategic disarray.

What Benefits and Brand Value Would Be Lost if Your Brand Weren’t Around?

If your brand is struggling with justifying a higher price than a competitor, use this FedEx advertisement as inspiration for a strategic thinking exercise.

Can you identify thirty bad things that could personally happen to the decision maker (and organization) that chooses your cheaper competitor? If so, you are well on your way to more effectively being able to communicate your brand value story. - Mike Brown


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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.