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Originally posted by Sarah Kuranda, on CRN Thu. Oct. 17, 2013

As technology continues to change, companies should stay focused on their brand and culture to drive success and attract customers, according to a panel of SP500 executives.

The panel, held at the Best of Breed conference hosted by CRN publisher The Channel Company, discussed how leading solution providers are evolving and thriving in a competitive and changing environment. The executives all agreed that branding was one of the key ways companies could distinguish themselves and stay relevant as technology and business practices evolve.

[highlight type=”one”]Panel speaker Bob Venero, president and CEO of Future Tech Enterprise, said that the solution provider’s brand is worth more than that of the supplier because that is who the customer interacts with most of the time.[/highlight]

[highlight type=”one”]”I am 100,1000 percent behind the fact that my brand and what the perception of Future Tech to our customers are way more important than what HP or Dell or IBM or any of the multitude of vendors that support is worth,” Venero said.[/highlight]

[highlight type=”one”]A survey of BoB conference attendees found that 81 percent of executives planned on adding an additional supplier to their practice offering.[/highlight]

[highlight type=”one”]What that brand translates into, Venero said, is marketing and a larger customer base.[/highlight]

[highlight type=”one”]”As our resume gets bigger and our database of clients gets bigger, [our brand] is our marketing tool,” Venero said on the panel.[/highlight]

While it isn’t the case for all solution providers, even on the panel, Venero said his company spends zero dollars on marketing because the brand awareness is so great that all he needs is a sales force.

However, you also have to keep in mind that the brands aren’t necessarily equal between suppliers and solution providers, said Harry Zarek, president and CEO of Compugen, speaking on the panel.

“We need to know the experience customers have [with] us in terms of the promise of what our brand will deliver and can we deliver against that. That’s what really matters,” Zarek said.

It’s about being able to trust a solution provider brand, said Jim Dixon, CEO of CompuCom, at the panel.

“It is always about trust and change,” Dixon said.

The bottom line? Stay true to your brand and culture and the rest will follow, Zarek said.

“You don’t need to be like me or like HP; you need to be like what you need to be uniquely, but make sure you bring that expressly and communicate that,” Zarek said.