Beware of Gorging on Component Brands

There’s a trend among business-to-business suppliers to tout three, four, or even more component brands, also known as ingredient brands. These declarations show up in social media posts, websites, and sales proposals. For example, suppliers may say something like:

“Bobbsity Company is proud to announce we are now using WingSprocket anti-gravitational boots to enhance our use of SlipperySliders vendor management software protected within our cyber network of WeKnowHowToCatchHackers.”

Yes, that’s all made up.

Yet this trend can have the opposite effect that suppliers intend. It can overwhelm customers with too many informational pieces to remember, or worse, turn them off and drive them elsewhere.

What is a component brand?

A component brand is a purchased service or product that suppliers can buy and integrate into their service delivery. It is an enhancement. Component brands are often included by suppliers to claim “better, faster, cheaper” services to their customers.

By focusing on what suppliers are good at, they can avoid the costs, delays, and distractions that come with developing their own innovations or technologies—and instead easily buy diverse plug-and-play capabilities.

The problem with using component brands

While suppliers’ intentions may be to show they are advanced, innovative, and technologically savvy, introducing multiple component brands can easily backfire.

The problem is that component brands briefly flash onto customers’ radar screens and then are easily forgotten.

Brand awareness can take five to seven impressions for customers to recall a brand when prompted by a product category. This may be easy when you think of cars, but which providers can you recall for steel bridge girders?

Customers just don’t get enough exposure or impressions to component brands to achieve the impact suppliers hope for. Component brands, because they are likely less well known, are primarily empty of meaning to customers until repeat exposures associate them with value. Here is why using component brands doesn’t work:

  • Customers have a short window of attention for suppliers’ messages.
  • If suppliers are willing to push component brands next to their primary brand, which brand takes precedence in customers’ awareness?
  • Component brands won’t get enough airtime to gain traction in customers’ awareness.
  • Suppliers may have unrealistic expectations for customers to quickly understand what component brands are and why suppliers are using this particular component.

As a result, component brands, other than the exception below, can distract customers from suppliers’ primary brand message.

The exception

And of course, there is a singular exception for the use of component brands, and it is the use of a single, universally recognizable, large platform or tech infrastructure brand can be helpful—think Microsoft’s Office 365, SAP, Salesforce,

These major brands have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars and/or years communicating their brand promise and capabilities.

They own a place in almost all customers’ awareness.

This exception is limited to only one major brand as proof a supplier is advanced, innovative, and technologically savvy.

Appearing advanced despite using one or no component brands

In marketing pieces and sales proposals, suppliers should describe what a purchased component will do for their customers, instead of using the component brand name and logo. For example:

“Our anti-gravitational boots keep our associates constantly moving to serve you whenever and wherever you need us. They are NASA-approved, 100% compostable, and taste great.”

OK, you get the point. Outside of the exception above, suppliers should describe what the component brand does, its functionality, and how customers benefit from that.

Component brand names should not be called out to introduce another mnemonic for customers to remember. Suppliers can use functional names as descriptors instead, such as:

  • Mobile quality inspection app.
  • Biometric timekeeping technology.
  • Applicant tracking system.

Avoid misleading claims

This may be obvious, but it’s essential to say that suppliers should not describe or list anything as “proprietary” if they are using a component brand to deliver that function.

For example, if a supplier is using Microsoft Word, they should not message to customers that:

“Our proprietary word processing software is the first of its kind to type what you think before you think it.”

Just describe its functionality and its customer benefits and then move on.


Service suppliers in their messaging should:

  1. Avoid introducing multiple component brands into customers’ short windows of attention.
  2. Instead, describe components’ functionalities and how they benefit customers.


  • Chris Arlen

    Chris Arlen, president of Revenue-IQ and a consultant in sales, service, and strategy for facility services across North America, brings outside expertise and best practices. He can be reached at [email protected].

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