Sometimes, market predictions just make you scratch your head. That’s the case with survey results by a research firm called CoreBrand that were interpreted as meaning that Steelcase lacks a strong corporate branding image. This opinion was based on the idea that brand recognition and reputation usually contribute to a company’s market capitalization (the stock’s perceived value to shareholders). According to the metrics used by CoreBrand, the average corporation they survey has a brand that contributes 5-7% to its market cap. Steelcase’s brand is apparently not adding any value at all to its stock. While not enough to say the company is doomed, it does make some people question the continued relevance of the brand and whether it is being promoted to the fullest extent.
Brand Recognition Isn’t Everything
The response from experts in the furniture industry has been to laugh this off. Steelcase may not be the most memorable or catchy name brand in office furniture, but this hasn’t kept it from becoming the largest office furniture company in the world. The company is close to 100 years old with a solid track record for: growth, profitability, and (most important) consistently high quality office furniture that meets their customers’ needs. Right now, Steelcase is projecting that they will capture an even larger share of the market in 2012. It doesn’t sound like they have a brand problem when it comes to what matters – selling their product. At Cubicles Office Environments, we certainly don’t have any difficulty moving refurbished Steelcase cubicles. They have a great reputation among our customers for being affordable and well made.
Was the Research Flawed?
Perhaps the focus on the importance of branding is being overblown when it comes to office furniture. Yes, Steelcase is lagging far behind Herman Miller when it comes to social media. All you have to do is compare the blogs of the two corporations to see which one is spending more money on its image and connecting with everyday consumers. But Steelcase still has the connections to put its brands in front of business decision makers when it matters. The “industry leaders” chosen to participate in the market research may simply not have known the brand name of the comfortable, ergonomic chair they were relaxing in while they answered survey questions. Next time CoreBrand does a survey, perhaps they should ask the facility managers and purchasing agents who actually buy office furniture what they think of Steelcase.