What's the premium in your firm's brand?

Flying across Lake Michigan to land at O'Hare airport today, I was recalling what I know about Chicago.

One thought led to another and courtesy of in-flight wifi, I thought I’d share some data to challenge you to think about the premium in your firm's brand.


First Chicago. Gangsters, Bugs Moran and Al Capone. The Windy City. Where President Obama started out as a civil rights attorney. Jazz, Nat King Cole. Medical education and pioneer, George Miller. Author of 50+ books on marketing, Phillip Kotler of Northwestern University. Economics, amongst many, Ronald Coase and The Nature of the Firm.

Oh, yes, basketball, the Chicago Bulls and, of course, Michael Jordan.

The premium in a brand

Now there's an idea. Bulls’ memorabilia to take home to our grandsons. Jump on the wifi courtesy of American Airlines (why don’t all airlines have in-flight wifi?). Find online shops for youth medium size T-shirts.

Here’s what I found: For a no player name or number Bulls jersey, $21.95. Add the name Doug McDermott and his number #3, $27.95. Use the name Michael Jordan and #23 instead, $79.95. And what jersey could I buy for $299.95? An ‘authentic jersey’ from the game when Jordan made ‘The Shot’ during Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And once on the ground, a pure commodity white T-shirt in a Chicago tourist store costs $9.95 today.

Chances are all five of these items were made in China, quite possibly in the same factory. The distribution and marketing costs probably vary quite a bit, but nowhere near the range of prices for essentially the same ‘what wearing a T-shirt does for me’ benefits – keep the sun off you and conform to dress norms.

The moral in this jersey story

The $12, $18, $70, and $290 premiums in four red shirts with writing on them represent the monetary value of ‘what wearing a Bulls’ jersey says about me’ benefits. It’s a great example of consumer marketing 101. One of the many marketing principles about which Phillip Kotler has educated us all.

Truth is, the same principle applies in B2B marketing.

So here’s the rub. What’s the premium in your firm’s brand? Is it more than the vanilla of the white T-shirt in the tourist store? Is it large, perhaps like that of ‘Michael Jordan, #23’?

As a leader in your firm you should be able to answer this question

Your firm should have a strategy for being differentiated.

If you are differentiated your clients will be willing to pay a premium for your services. Perhaps not as large as ’The Shot’ premium, that’s only available to the Michael Jordan equivalents – very scarce. But some premium none-the-less.

And the more your firm is differentiated, the larger the premium you will command.

Further reading and information on how Beaton measures the premium in a firm's brand

If you found this post of interest, then you should also read these on the Beaton blogs:

+ How to protect and build your brand by Daria Radchenko

+ ‘To differentiate or not to differentiate?’ is not the question. ‘How to?’ is. by Daria Radchenko

+ Professions, acquisitions and brand permission by Warren Riddell

The Beaton Benchmarks for professional services firms measure important dimensions of firms' brand health, including how strongly each firm's brand is recognised as 'leading' for the firm as a whole and at service line and practice area levels.


Dr George Beaton is a director of Beaton Research + Consulting and Beaton Capital and may also be found on LinkedIn and contacted at george.beaton@beatoncapital.com.

Post script

If you are interested in my address on 'Outside Investment in Law Firms: The Aussie Example' to the Clio Conference in Chicago, I'd be delighted to send you the deck.