The Value of Niche Brand Solutions

The use of a strong-performance brand causes participants to feel better about themselves when undertaking a task…

- Frank Germann, the University of Notre Dame, on National Public Radio, May 11, 2016.

woman golfing with a non-brand name club, demonstrating the placebo effect

When companies are trying to improve their processes and do not have much experience in the areas of delivery effectiveness, they potentially face a need to spend more money on a big brand name consultancy than is needed. At TSI, we see this too often.

Unfortunately for TSI (and sometimes for our potential clients), we occasionally lose a pursuit to one of the bigger national management consulting firms. Sometimes, client organizations do not select us because the bigger consulting firms simply are the “bigger consulting firms;” they have a more widely known and established brand. Hiring a national name brand can be important to clients. However, it can often be a disadvantage to them as well. This is because the big guys often cost significantly more, may not assign a seasoned consultant to the work, or may not have a specific “fix” for a client’s need.

Brand Names & The Placebo Effect

Several years ago, Shankar Vedatam, social science correspondent on NPR, did a story relating to the research of the placebo effect on consumer purchases. The story focused on the perception that big brand name products (e.g., Nike golf clubs) provide better results.

The report hit home for me with the following quote:

The effect is strongest among people who are novices in their respective task. Experts, really receive little or no boost due to the performance brand.

The Value in a Niche Brand

Take caution and beware as you move along the maturity path for your PMO, portfolio management, or program governance capabilities. Are you convinced in your path because the best solution is being put forward? Or because you are talking with a well-known, brand-name consultancy? Analogous to the study about golfing, there is little real difference in leveraging a more recognizable brand. Instead, the key is a sound solution, a clear vision and roadmap for delivery, an experienced implementation team, and a measured way forward.

If your organization is a novice, or just not yet an expert in delivery, consider your needs, possible solutions, and the value you hope to realize. Do not be swayed by the placebo effect. There is value in the niche solution providers as well. I cannot promise a hole-in-one, but I can promise to reduce your anxiety on the fairway and help you improve your game. TSI has been around for more than 25 years; our consultants are seasoned experts, and we have the specific ‘fix’ for your need across a variety of service offerings.




Our mission is to serve you, our client, and be the outside thought leader, facilitator, project manager, change agent, and catalyst to create a plan and help bring that change to life. Let TSI discuss a proven and cost-effective approach to help your organization evolve.

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Transforming Solutions Inc.

Transforming Solutions Inc.

TSI’s business and higher education consulting services improve efficiency, growth, quality and performance. We do this through people, process, and technology!

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