Whenever I think about a customer’s relationship to a client’s brand, I remember a conversation I had with an executive at a company my firm was wooing. 

In our business, we got new clients through an RFP process. We always branded the cover of our proposal with the client’s logo and colors. I often argued that we should use our own brand prominently on our proposals, but I was always shut down. The conventional wisdom was that we are demonstrating respect and understanding of the client by using their branding. That did not change even after I received a cease and desist letter from a company telling me to refrain from using their branded material.

Anyway, the practice continued. Once, after we delivered the proposal, I had the chance to chat casually with the CFO/decision-maker of the potential client.

He asked me why we didn’t use our brand on the proposal. I gave him the stock answer. He said that every responding firm gave him a proposal with his logo and colors on the cover. He said he looked at that branding every day, so none of them stood out to him. In fact, they all kind of disappeared on his desk among the other internal branded material he received. 

I responded that it’s conventional in our industry because we want to show we respect the client. His response was along the lines of, “So you show respect by using our registered intellectual property without our permission?” I sort of shrugged. What could I say? Should I have told him to try a cease and desist letter next time?

But there’s a lesson in there: Your customers’ relationship with your brand is completely different from your own. So don’t let your boredom with your brand prevent you from using it to deliver a consistent brand message to your customers.