Brand differentiation strategies to stand out from the competition


This video explains what brand differentiation is and why it is important to differentiate your brand from the competition. It also gives you some strategies to help you to differentiate your brand.

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Video Transcript

Are you struggling to stand out from the competition? Or maybe you’re looking for that unique edge to help give you that something extra in the market? Or perhaps you just see the bigger brands and think what is different about them to their competitors? Well, this is the video for you.

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What is brand differentiation? Marty Neumeier sums up really well with his explanation from his book, the branding dictionary. ‘The process establishing the unique market category to increase profit margin and avoid commoditization’ there is also a great quote from him. That says the three most important words when differentiating your brand it’s focus, focus, focus. Now differentiation is literally what makes your brand different, but it can also be considered as your competitive advantage. And it’s not just crucial for your marketing efforts or your branding in general. But also for your wider business operations, differentiation can have far reaching consequences across your business and how you set it up and how you put things in place to promote it, but also how to develop product lines and where you’re looking to partner up or promote your product or service.

When customers see brands as interchangeable it limits their buying decisions to be based solely on price. And what this does for brands is it inhibits their ability to command a higher price because you’re constantly fighting with other brands on price. There’s nothing that sets you apart.

You are one in a vast sea of similar brands. So differentiation allows you to position the brand and differentiate it in a way from the competition that makes it stand out more than just everything else in the market. And it gives you the ability to create something a bit more unique, which can command a higher price, but can also garner sort of a loyal fund base and build that audience a bit more organically because customers that generally buy on price will leave you on price. And there isn’t much loyalty there’s nothing, from that particular brand that differentiates it enough or makes it unique enough, that the audience wants to stay with it.

According to the WPP and Millward Brown, they did a study of the top hundred global brands. It’s a report they do. And in that report, they followed brands over a 10 year period and they realized that differentiation was the single biggest factor when it came to Brand success.

So how much they would differentiate from their competition is the single biggest factor to their brand’s success. So with that in mind, here’s some strategies that you can use to differentiate your brand.

Differentiating through features. So this can be features of products. It could be features of a service. It could be the way that you onboard clients or take them through your process. All of these could be considered differentiating through features of your product or service. For example, if you’re an apparel brands, you might have a focus on using sustainable materials or recycled plastics to produce your apparel.

If you were a sunglasses brand, you might based unbreakable frames or the customer can have their money back. These sort of feature based differentiations, are really good ways to showcase what, what your product or service can offer in a slightly different way. Now they are easily.

Replicatable unless you have patents for particular things with regards to the products, or you have things like methodologies or processes and ways that you work that are hard to replicate, but they’re really good to have in your arsenal of differentiation and if you back them up with some of these other strategies, they can be a really good combination.

Differentiating by being the first or first mover. So this literally means being the first category, which isn’t practical for existing brands, unless they’re looking to pivot or launch new products, but for new brands or startups, it’s a really good way to differentiate your brand straight off the bat, and also associate your brand with a particular category.

For existing brands. There are ways you can still be the first or first mover, one of those is taking a new product or service and focusing that a particular segment that your market doesn’t normally serve another way might be adapting to and incorporating new technologies into your process.

Whether that’s 3D printing augumented reality, or even things like agile workflows into your rapid prototyping could be ways. To be the first in your market out of all your competitors that are not doing this to differentiate yourself. Another way that can do this is if you look at a particular advertising channel that no one else of your competitors is actually using yet.

So it might be that nobody in your sort of market so far is doing podcasts, and this can be a really good space for you to capitalize on and be the first and that particular sort of channel where it might be an advertising channel. You can focus on all these ways of really good to differentiate your competition.

Differentiating through your employees, your service or your team. So companies like Zappos and Nordstrom are famous for their customer service. And it’s something that they do every single day to make their customers happy. I mean, there’s those rumours and those things about, you know, Zappos having hour long conversations with their customers, just to make sure their customers go away happy and things like Nordstrom’s reward schemes for their customers.

Things like this are in built into that brand. To make sure that they are superior when it comes to their customer service and they differentiate on that particular thing. You can also see this with brands like Starbucks, who take sort of great lengths to train the employees. But they also do things like build into their process, the fact that the employee will get the name, write it on the cup.
This might not seem like much. And it does actually help them, obviously in a particular scenario, working through that process when it’s busy, but also what it does. Is, it builds a connection with you because someone’s going to shout out your name for your coffee and it kind of builds up familiarity.

So you can differentiate with employees and your team customer service. And it also be through things like how well trained they are. So they could be really well-trained compared to your competition. It might be that their skilled in slightly different ways to your competition, but you can really use this as a way to differentiate your team and the relationship that they have with your audience, from your competition.

Now again, this isn’t a massive differentiator, so it’s not something you want to do on its on its own. There wants the other things in there to really differentiate your brand. But it’s a great front line differentiation that you can use for your business.

Differentiate, but owning an attribute in your audience’s mind. So think about the relationship you have with your customer. Think about the experiences they have with your brand. What attributes can you own in their mind. So we think about some of the classics, Apple and innovation, Volvo and safety, Rolex, and success, Adidas and creativity, Vans and individualism, what these brands have successfully done is managed the focus one attribute for that brand, tie it to their brand and what that does is it gives you a really powerful combination for remembering that brand.

A shortcut to remember it in the audience’s mind. If you imagine your mind is like a filing cabinet, we are hard way to store things quickly simply and make snap decisions. It’s part of our survival instinct.

It’s similar with this situation. So tying Volvo to safety, what it does is in our mind, it makes the concept easy to understand. Tying Apple to innovation. It makes the concept easy to understand what attributes can you tie your brand to, to differentiate it from the competition,

Differentiate by  being a disruptor. So if the market you’re in or you’re going into, if you’re launching a product or a new brand is set in its ways. So there’s some well held beliefs there, that are up to be challenged or that you think you can do it in a way that is better, or you can differentiate in a way that is different to everyone else.

So maybe in your market, it’s fully automated. Everything is automated. There’s no real human connection. Can you bring that human element in to that particular market and differentiate that way? Can you differentiate through the way that you use your production or the way that you. Choose a certain materials or how you just bring yourself to the table.

If you think of brands like Uber, Netflix, in some cases like with Netflix, it’s a slightly different category, but the disruption there was disrupting an old kind of status quo, especially with Uber. And if you can do something similar, it can be really powerful when it can change things really quickly.

Which can be great for differentiating yourself because not only will your competitors know pretty quickly you’re doing your audience is going to pick up on it as well. So it’s a really good way to differentiate your brand by disrupting or think of it more as improving, disrupting sounds hostile, some cases it can be, but in a lot of cases, just think about innovating and improving the current situation, make it better for your customers.

Differentiate on what you stand for or your cause. So can you differentiate by standing for something more, for example, like Tom shoes, or could you differentiate by having a grand vision like Tesla or connecting with your audience values like Disney, your internal brand, your core brand should be unique and therefore it can be a great place for ideas and idea generation for ways that you can be. Different and how you can differentiate. So look at your core brand and work out some ways that you can differentiate that is different from your competition.

Differentiate by focusing on a niche. So if you remember Marty Neumeier’s quote from earlier on, which was the three words of differentiating your brand, are focus, focus, and focus, and this is exactly what he was talking about.

So if you focus on a niche, what you can do instantly is shrink your competition and differentiate your brand. So if you think about it for a second, yeah. If you shrink your competition, obviously you have less to compete against, but you’ve also become more valuable in your audience’s mind. So if you imagine in your local area, there’s lots of gyms, and if you were bringing a new gym into the local area, why not focus on a niche, could you specialize and focus on parents?

So Gym going parents so if you  start thinking that way. Does that mean then that you could have a play cafe at the gym? Could you stock child and family friendly meals? Could you do special pricing for families? Could you maybe do special opening hours for parents? And, and children.

Having children myself sometimes it can be difficult to go to certain classes because they finish at say six when you’re still trying to put the kids to bed. So having classes later, or that go on later, that could really cater for parents would be a really good thing maybe in your local area. So this is an example of focusing on a niche and how you can really hone in on that. And also if you think about it from your marketing and brand point of view, How much easier would it be to speak to one niche rather than five or 10? If you’re speaking to parents with regards to, your, Gym, if that’s going back to the example, how much easier can it be to speak to those people? You get things like struggling to look after your children and go to the gym you don’t need to worry anymore.

Want to find ways to be a good parent and still be active. Then X gym is a place you want to go. You can really focus your messaging on particular audiences and targets, and you can speak directly to them, which differentiates you even more.

Differentiate by business model. So is there a way to alter your business model slightly the way you do things? Is there a way to look at that if you’re launching a brand or you’re new to a market, is there a way to adapt your business model that is differentiating yourself and also competing with the market that already exists? If you look at dollar shave club, they were the first subscription-based razor company and they were they’re in direct competition with Gillette, which was obviously you’d go out and you’d buy some blades and then you’d come back. You’d use them and then you’d go and buy some more dollar shave club set up this subscription-based razor company. And they differentiate themselves from a business model that had kind of been. Something that’s been set in stone for so many years and they just went in and differentiated that and change things up.

So can you do something similar with the way that you do things, is there a way to differentiate through the way that your business runs or the operation side of it, or how you interact with your customers.

Differentiate through brand identity, or brand voice. So can you take the presentation layers of your brands, so the identity layer and the voice layer, can you differentiate through these. If you look at a lot of brands and this might seem obvious. If you look at a lot of markets, actually there are markets there where people using similar colors and similar themes and similar ideas, and that might be right for your brand. So it’s not a case of doing it. If it doesn’t feel right for you, but if you’re in a position where you can, you’re looking at a rebrand or you’re looking at differentiating yourself, there can be ways to capitalize on everything else we spoke about.

By looking at these front two presentation layers as well. So differentiating yourself through colors that are different to what’s already in your market is one way of doing this or using slightly different graphical elements or patterns or textures or ways that you can present, the brand slightly differently. If you’re a product and all the products in your, in your industry or your niche, use a particular kind of material for their packaging can you change that up a bit? Can you look at the front, the graphics on the front and mix it up and make it more striking, more iconic, or it might be a case of making it more simplistic and less cluttered, more modern looking to kind of really make it pop on the shelf.

There might be a way to do this through Brand voice so we looked at Ben and Jerry’s in a previous video and how they are the jester archetype, and they use fun and humor to inject some sort of play aspect into their branding and their marketing. Can you do something similar and not necessarily use the jester archetype, but can you look at your. market and see the voice, the brand voice and if you can pick out some of the archetypes are being used and we’ll go into archetypes in the future video by some of the brands in your market, can you differentiate by your voice?

So your brand voice, maybe you haven’t been using it enough before or tapping into it enough. Can you use that Brand voice to really differentiate yourself from your competition?

So this might be by being the playful one in a pocket of stuffiness, if it’s right for the brand, and if it’s right for your audience, it might be the case of being more of a Sage like kind of figure or a guide or mentor type voice in, in an, in a sort of a market full of heroes. There are different ways to differentiate your brand and stand out.

It’s got to be right for you and it’s got to be right for your audience, but if there is the way to do it and you can do it, it’s a really good way to differentiate and set you apart from that puck. So if you use these two, the voice and the identity differentiation, if you can use that with some of the other strategies from before we talked about, you’ve got a really powerful combination. 

To sum up we’re inundated with Brands today across all different markets and the ones that get our attention are the ones that are memorable, iconic, simple, and have the ability to differentiate themselves effectively from their competition. Take the time to look at your brand, look at your business model and see where you can differentiate from your competition.

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In the description below, we have a link to our guide, which is the unified brand, and that is our methodology. And today a lot of brands have an identity crisis where their brand isn’t aligned through the layers of their brand. So they’re completely out of alignment. So what the report and the guide does, is it tells you about how to re-align your brand and how to rid your brand of an identity crisis. So if you click the link, you can go through and download. It’s a free PDF. And, it’ll give you some tips on ridding your brand or an identity crisis.

Have a great, week catch up soon and keep those brand’s unified.

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