A Lesson for Your Business

We at Orbit Design have developed branding maps and designed marketing materials for all kinds of companies. From mobile software solutions, to all types of doctors, to guitars, to books, to international airport design. But believe it or not, office supply dealers hold a special fascination for us.

Maybe it sounds boring. Office supplies are a commodity – something no one wants to sell because it’s only about price. Not only that, office supply dealers sell the exact same thing – staplers from Swingline, pens from Bic etc. And still worse, every day they must fight the big boxes – Staples, Office Depot and Office Max.


Guess what, they are winning. The independents are on the rise and the big publicly funded guys are slumping. One of our customers has gone from 5 million to 40 million a year in business during this “recession”. Sometimes it’s a matter of working with pro branders like us, sometimes it’s intuition. But in office supplies, it’s always about formulating a “foundation of separation” – i.e. branding – and then getting the word out – sales outreach.

When branding an independent office supply company, we are always working for the underdogs. It’s an enjoyable challenge for our designers. We know where the big box bar is set. We have to design standout identities and webs that salt interest, inform and engage. Office supply salespeople almost always get that we are on their side supporting their efforts. One salesperson once said to us: “I will never sell without a brand again.” And with the odds against them, office supply dealers often have a chip on their shoulder. We have heard; “Taking a customer away from a big box is like taking candy from a baby” more than once.

So take a lesson from independent office supply brands. If they can sell the exact same products as their competition, products commonly sold at Walmart or Target; If they can avoid advertising entirely; if they can hammer the big box stores – just think what you can do if you just get your brand together and then get the word out.

Brand well and prosper!

Andy Cleary

Andy Cleary

Andy Cleary

Founder & CMO at Orbit Design
The founder of Orbit Design, the Branding Map Process, and co-author of “Genius Simple Branding” and “Salt”, Andy Cleary has been working with independent businesses for over 30 years. He has branded businesses ranging from business products companies, to universities, to international airport designers. His focus has been on how branding drives sales.
Andy Cleary

Latest posts by Andy Cleary (see all)