Taking My Hacks

Brand Matters

Joe Orlando

In our industry, just like any other industry, the issue of brand is a serious one. There are brands that are synonymous with certain types of products and brands that carry little or no meaning in their pertinent marketplace.

Why does brand matter?

It really is very simple. A strong brand, one that is tried and true, is one that has meaning to the masses. A brand should speak for itself. Brand respect is something earned over time. Brand recognition equals credibility and quality. A brand is bigger than any individual or set of individuals, it is the symbol of a team effort. A great brand carries the ultimate weight. A brand is just that - a brand.

For all of the above reasons and more, brand strength is very important for the buyer and the seller. The buyer wants to have confidence in his purchase while the seller wants to generate maximum interest in the products he is offering. Without a recognized brand, an item becomes generic; its quality also becomes suspect as a cloud of uncertainty hovers above the item.

In addition, brand affects pride of ownership in a dramatic way. Do you think men buy Rolex watches because they keep great time? No. Do you think women buy Fendi bags because of the construction of the handle? Ridiculous. Do you think people drive luxury cars, like a Mercedes Benz or a BMW, because of the great gas mileage? Of course not.

Now, while all of the above brands have earned their status through quality, part of the reason people buy these brands is due to pride of ownership. These brands stand out within their respective product lines and consumers know what these brands, and other comparable brands, symbolize. The brands speak for themselves. That is what makes a brand great.

In our hobby, it is no different. Some brands of trading cards are stronger than others. Some brands of professional model bats are preferred over others. It goes on and on.

If you have an "authenticated" or "graded" item but the company or individual behind the service is not branded in a universal way, then that item will carry little to no weight in the industry. Even if the company or person has great skill, it is irrelevant. For example, my uncle could be the greatest autograph expert or card grading expert in the world but, if only a small fraction of the hobby knows this, then my uncle's opinion is rendered meaningless.

When a collector owns a PSA Mint 9 1954 Topps Hank Aaron rookie card, it carries weight - the item has a real market value because the industry recognizes and accepts it as a commodity. If that same exact card is graded by another service with an unrecognized brand, even in the same exact grade, the card is given little credibility. The eventual question will be, "I wonder what PSA would grade it?"

When a collectible is authenticated or graded by PSA, or another reputable brand, most collectors know exactly what they are getting and that is crucial to the health of the market. Dependable brands help bring new participants into the market and increased participation is good for everyone.

As a suggestion to all the collectors spending their hard earned money out there, please make sure you are brand conscious when buying an authenticated or graded product. Otherwise, you will be left with a worthless piece of paper or plastic.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief


Joe Orlando has been an advanced collector of sportscards and memorabilia for over 25 years. Orlando attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California where he studied communications and was the starting catcher for the baseball team. After a brief stint in the minor leagues, Orlando obtained a Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School in Southern California in the spring of 1999. During the last fourteen years, Orlando has authored several collecting guides and dozens of articles for Collectors Universe, Inc. Orlando has also authored two books for Collectors Universe. Orlando's first book, The Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby, was released in the summer of 2002. His second book, Collecting Sports Legends, was released in the summer of 2008. Orlando has appeared on several radio and television programs as a hobby expert including ESPN's award-winning program Outside the Lines and HBO's Real Sports, as the featured guest. Currently, Orlando is the President of PSA and PSA/DNA, the largest trading card and sports memorabilia authentication services in the hobby. He is also Editor of the company's nationally distributed Sports Market Report, which under Orlando's direction has developed into a leading resource in the market. Orlando also contributed the foreword and last chapter to The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories, a 2010 release, and to The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players, a 2013 release.