Let’s say you sell a major national or international brand product like Coke or Nike, or maybe you represent one of the top national brand service like Allstate insurance or . You’ve pretty much got it made right?

Well… not exactly.

First off, keep in mind that the economic troubles facing the U.S. and the world are not selective. The big guys are feeling the crunch as much (and in some cases) even more than small businesses. Look at major companies like Circuit City and Linens N Things, or legacy brands like Waterford and Macy’s, these giants are closing doors faster than NY cabbies. But we’re not talking about failing companies. This post is meant to highlight top performers and the golden ticket they represent.

If you sell a commodity like gold, and all else is equal – quality, style and price, what sets you apart from the gold seller next door? Gold is gold right. Coke is coke, and Nike is Nike. And if you sell insurance, legal advice, or … garbage pickup for that matter …services that are pretty equal across the board within the same brand… your basically set — especially if you’re selling a nationally well-known, established and trusted brand name service. Take Allstate for example. If I sell Allstate insurance I have the backing of a major corporation with millions in assets, a heck of a spokesperson,  and a slogan that’s known to 93% of U.S. households. So for my business, I’m set… or so one might believe.

Let’s consider what happens to the Allstate salesman. First he’s got competition from other well-known and trusted companies – say State Farm, and Liberty Mutual. Then he has competition from new players with slick ads like Geico and Progressive. He can likely compete on price, services, coverage, backing, add-ons, payment plans, etc with these other companies and still make money. After all, this is Allstate for crying out loud!

So, where are we going with all this…? Think about the famous words of Jesus… a house divided against itself must fall… makes sense right? While Mr. Allstate was busy competing and winning against the other insurance companies out there, another Allstate agent moved in close to his territory. And then folks from his city moved away, and others moved in, and they already had their own Mr. Allstate. They’re all offering the same product, price, guarantee and peace of mind… You’re in good hands with Allstate… not with Joey Jones… so how does the individual business person separate himself and stand out when all else is equal…?

In a word … sub-branding.

To be continued later in the week.