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Brand Value In The Title Industry: Feedback

Last month, we concluded that none of the title insurance underwriters had “brand value”.

Lou Pontani, a marketing maven at First American disagrees:

As I read further I have this comment about the title underwriters brand . . . “I’m defining brand value as the power to charge a higher price than your competitors for an identical or almost identical product or service” – This is Apple’s business model but it is not Walmart’s yet both have tremendous Brand Value.

This is not the definition of brand value and because of that I fear the entire argument in the article is flawed.  Brand Value or Brand Equity describes the value of a brand name, that a well-known brand name can generate more revenue with a brand name than from products with a less well-known name.

Title underwriters have brand value.  I see it every day when an attorney selects First American because of its financial strength over a competitor.  I see it when a bank declines a loan because an agent selected a smaller underwriter to insure the title.  We are a smaller b2b industry yes but we are vital to a capitalist free market economy – we protect and preserve property rights.  Hence why so many people invest in the United States.

Our comment:  I think Lou has a point in that WalMart does have “brand value”, not by its ability to charge higher prices but in its ability to attract more than 245M customers to its stores.

A question:  While the attorney or bank in Lou’s example might chose First American over a smaller regional underwriter, is it because of brand value or First American’s relatively stronger balance sheet?  Would the bank or the attorney have similar reservations if the title underwriter was Fidelity, Old Republic, Stewart, Westcor or Williston?

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