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Standing Under the Umbrella And Still Getting Wet

By Kim A. Castle
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2005

Make More Money Making a Name for Yourself

Calling all realtors, financial planners, insurance brokers, multi-level & network marketers, and anyone else who works in the precarious and often misunderstood position of operating under a large company brand umbrella yet operating as a separate business unto itself. You may find that you're standing under the umbrella and you're still getting wet-- not enjoying the unlimited personal and financial rewards that business opportunity offers.

Do you have trouble distinguishing yourself from another person working under the same umbrella brand? Do you feel the sting of this coming from the cubicle right next to you?

Do you sometimes feel that you don't get the support that you thought you would from the umbrella brand? Or, find your requests to the corporate office ignored?

Do you experience the pinch that comes from needing to tow the corporate line and the expectation to create your financial success as if you were operating your business as your own?

You can stop looking around. I'm not in your office. Really. You can stop looking around and you need to stop relying on the brand umbrella that you thought would provide you so much. Staying under there will only cause you more discomfort and take you further from fulfilling the dreams you had when you first started.

Don't look so dejected all is not lost. There's something you can do to turn the entire lose-lose situation around, but you have to be committed to being really successful and devoted to being truly happy. Not everyone is cut out for that. Are you?

Often, I have been hired to distinguish top-performing realtors from other realtors --their competition. Ninety-eight percent of time, the first thing my job calls for is to open the grip they have on their brokerage firm. You read it right, their grip on, not the grip the firm has on them. Once their clutch is relaxed, I can then successfully guide a real estate professional (or any type of broker or salesperson) to develop their own business as a brand; all the while honoring the larger umbrella brand that provides them the credibility and product value they need to cultivate their business. Working with an umbrella brand is a blessing, but it is not a crutch!

This applies to financial planners and insurance brokers as well with added attention given to the sensitive legal requirements of the larger institution. While a financial planner or insurance broker may drive everyday to an office building, park in the garage, walk past a receptionist sitting under the big brokerage logo, they eventually walk into their office or cubicle, sit at the desk of their own business and are responsible for getting their own clients and generating their own financial success.

Multi-level marketers and network marketers need to take a good step back from the brand they are selling because the umbrella brand's grasp is often even tighter. This keeps the majority of MLM participants from ever really hitting the marks that were promised as possible. The problem is not that the promised marks aren't possible. They're just so much more difficult to hit coming from the perspective at which most MLM salespersons operate.

When it comes to creating the business success you want in any of these or similar situations, it's not about distancing yourself from the umbrella brand's identity... it's about creating one of your own.

You need to take into your awareness that people don't just buy a product or service, they buy an experience. They buy something they believe in. They buy a feeling they can count on-- over and over and over. This is where you actually have an edge over the 'umbrella.'

The brand conglomerates find it very difficult to meet the experiential and emotional needs of the customers. They are just too big. You have the edge because you have what they don't; the individual customer and you connect with them on a daily basis.

It's what you do with that connection and how you communicate it that makes all the difference. This can be broken down into four important key factors:

* Realize that the umbrella brand is not a job, it's a tool that you've invested in to assist you in offering a top-quality product or service. It's an instrument that both the public and yourself recognize as of value in your specific field. If you think of it as one of many possible tools, even if you never employ another one, you will put your brand umbrella in the proper perspective and actually be able to use it more fully.

* Connect your own power to your business, after all, it is YOUR business. You are responsible for getting clients. You are responsible for keeping them. At the end of the day, you have to answer to your own disappointment or success. Remember, the power in any business is not the image of a business, it's not even the idea of the business, its the connection to the customer. They always will be yours.

* Establish your own brand voice through all your business communications. Design your own look and feel to your materials. Don't just rely on what the umbrella brand provides you. Everyone else in your situation is doing that. Depending solely on the big brand's voice will not only hurt you, your customers will find it impossible to separate you from your competition.

Note: When developing your own materials, you do need to take into consideration the large brand logo, colors and even language. After all, not only did you choose that umbrella brand for a reason, your brand will need to work along side with it.

* Know that your umbrella brand may be wary of your independence but they will most certainly love your financial success. They may buck some when you begin to deviate, but remember, going along with their plan is probably perpetuating your indistinguishable situation in the first place. Plain and simple... when you look great they look great. When you make money, they make money. When you make a lot more, they make a lot more. Period.

It's quite simple. You can make more money and experience greater enjoyment doing exactly what you're doing and working with the same umbrella brand, if you simply change your perspective.

By shifting your understanding from working under to working with your umbrella, you will find yourself using the 'the big brand umbrella' as a tool, staying dry AND basking in the bright sunlight of success.

© 2004 Castle Montone, Limited Reprinted with Permission.

About the Author
Kim Castle successfully helps hundreds of small business owners grow their businesses and is co-author of the 150+ page BrandU Bible, the only step-by-step workbook that gives entrepreneurs the tools to develop their business as a brand and the upcoming Why BrandU: Big Business Success No Matter Your Size. Kim Castle’s motto is “Whether your market is the globe or your zip code, you have the power to communicate your business as a brand. You just haven’t been shown how… until now.”