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From The Editor
By James M. Borneman,

Do You Have A Widget Mind-Set?

James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

W hy is branding a challenge in textiles Some possible explanations may be found in a recent BtoB magazine opinion piece by Bob Lamons, president of marketing and branding consulting firm Robert Lamons & Associates.

Lamons pulled together 21 case studies of “extraordinary” business-to-business (b-to-b) branding. It seems he has come across three barriers to building brands in the b-to-b marketplace. The first is what he refers to as the “ Widget Mind-Set.” The second is the “Mission Statement Trap.” And the third is a trend in some industries to decentralize marketing out into the company’s divisions, limiting the company’s unified voice and message.

Decentralization has happened among vendors of textile products, but so has consolidation. And, arguably, consolidation has brought more than its share of brand confusion into the mix. As venerable brands have merged, their shares of voice and mind seem to have evaporated in many cases. It is not hard to think of major textile brands that still exist with huge brand equity that has been abandoned, no longer supported by the acquirers.

Lamons explains the “Mission Statement Trap” this way: “We went through this period of writing mission statements covering every possible base. You know, ‘the best products for the best price, that are good for mankind and the environment, not to mention the self-esteem of our employees.’ Customers are too distracted to give you credit for all of that.”

The “Widget Mind-Set” is something that really hits home in textiles. In Lamons’ words: “ Many top b-to-b marketers started in technical disciplines such as engineering and science, so they tend to fixate on the ‘features and benefits,’ believing that customers conduct exhausting comparisons of all available options to make logical, informed choices.

“That’s the dominant left side of the brain talking. Maybe they should also listen to their more intuitive side, because my view is that b-to-b buying decisions are made as much today by gut feel as the result of any detailed evaluation. Who has time for that?”

Whether it is fiber, yarn, chemistry, machinery, fabric or services, the buying process in today's textile supply chain is complicated. But, the power of a brand shouldn't be underestimated. As Lamons states: "When people see or hear your brand, what do they expect? If they expect your products or services will do the job they have in mind for a reasonable cost, you have a sale. Its why brand image drives purchase decisions in todays b-to-b marketplace. And it's why branding should be at the top of your list of things to worry about. "

US textiles are innovative and the industry is productive. How about marketing textiles with the same level of skill and proficiency that has always been focused on making them? 

January/February 2006