NAPLES, Fla. - D. Wendal Attig wants commercial HVAC contractors to think of ways to make their company names the brands that customers remember when they need service and installation work. Attig, who calls himself "America's Brand Positioning Coach" spoke with members of the Unified Group about how to get inside the minds of their customers.

Attig gave his definition of branding: "becoming synonymous with an idea, concept, experience, or philosophy that is more important to your target market than your company name, or the names of your individual products, programs, or services."

He used the example of FedEx, which, because of a marketing campaign, makes its name synonymous with overnight delivery. When someone wants to send a package in a hurry, they often use the term "Fed Ex it."

Attig used a quote from Fred Smith, FedEx CEO, to describe the FedEx brand:

"Our customers increasingly want a single company that can meet all of their global transportation needs. Our goal is to provide them a convenient, single point of access to the most powerful collection of express, ground, logistics, and supply chain solutions."

Attig said that brand ownership is divided up into several segments.

1. The company owns the brand because it manages the brand and controls its application.

2. The market, trade, and trade media own the brand because they establish its initial value, monitor its performance, and interpret its impact.

3. The client owns the brand because he or she controls acceptance or rejection, influences popularity, exercises loyalty, affects referrals, determines the future of the brand, and transfers perception of the brand into reality.

Reinforcing The Brand

Attig said it is important for companies to reinforce brand identity by repetition, reflection, and association between their name and the products or services they sell. Accomplishing that goes a long way to customer retention.

"The cost of acquisition and retention is a serious bottom-line problem," he said. "You need to promote brand loyalty by continuing to do what brought your customers to the table."

He said the cost of current client retention is very small compared to the cost of new client acquisition, which can be as much as 1,200 percent higher.

One way to attract new customers is by consistently putting your company name out in front of the consumer. "When you have a chance to put your logo out in front of people, do it and do it well," Attig stated.

Brand positioning is very important, too. Attig said that positioning quantifies value, communicates relevance, differentiates, and creates expectation. He added that relationship building goes a long way to reinforcing the brand and its position.

Attig noted that in any business-to-business relationship it is the client who is in control. "They make the decisions to stay with you and how much they are going to spend with you," he said.

"Customers want you to think for them because they are too busy - and because you are the expert.

"You have to ask the question: ‘If I do the work, will you see me again?' You have to ask this question first instead of jumping through hoops to get a second appointment."

Said Attig, "You want them right in the comfort zone. Once there, they will let you do anything you want for them."

For more information on D. Wendal Attig, visit For more information on The Unified Group, visit

Publication date: 12/27/2004