Want to build a better business; through value-added brand building and brand differentiators? Here’s how.
Today, if you don't stand for something, you run the risk of your price point being your only competitive advantage, and let’s face it, for the majority of businesses that is simply not sustainable. It’s easy for competitor companies to replicate a successful product or service, which means that a new and unique product quickly moves from being extraordinary to being the norm.
Brands need to begin looking at adding an intangible value, rather than just replicable functional value. Competition and commoditised markets have led to many brands sharing the same strengths, but to drive success, you must have a unique competitive advantage.
Consumers love brands that offer extra value, beyond the product or service. It is no longer a case of customers admiring an advert, and therefore loving the brand. Branding today goes far beyond beautiful visuals and a social media presence.
Related: How well do you really know your target market?
Here are three fundamentals that brands should tick off:
- Have a clear understanding of your brand, how it lives internally through your staff and culture, and how it’s communicated.
- Know who you are talking to. An in-depth understanding of your target market is essential, find out what their passions are.
- How is your brand differentiated from your competitors?
Jeremy Miller identifies nine main areas of differentiation:
- Market responsiveness
- Product/Service superiority
- Production efficiency
- Natural/Human Resources
- Market dominance
- Short term profit
- Method of sale
- Distribution method
- Technological advantage.
To determine if your differentiator is clear, engage your full team, from the receptionist to senior management. If you get different answers, you have a problem.
Differentiation is about attracting and retaining customers; try and be visionary and aspirational with your differentiator and build your business towards it. Let it be what focusses your team, and how you compete in the market.
Express your differentiator as a strategic choice for instance; if your differentiator falls into the superiority product area, there are many possible strategic options you could leverage based on this, for example:
- Product Superiority = Speed = Fastest car from 0 - 100km/h
- Product Superiority = Strength = Most reliable engine
- Product Superiority = Safety = 5 NCAP safety rating.
When identifying your differentiator, keep in mind that it should meet the following three criteria:
- It must be true
- It must resonate with your customers or target market
- You have to prove it, and demonstrate that it’s true, in other words, if you’re going to talk the talk, then walk the walk.
It’s not a question of ticking one of the three above; all should be true. You also want to make sure that the differentiator has relevance (be an important decision driver), that it is credible (that your brand can consistently deliver on it), and that it is unique (you can do it better than your competitors).
Related: The importance of brand
A unique differentiator provides additional impact for your brand; it helps you stand out from the competition; it connects you with your target market, and it builds long-term equity and stand-out value for your brand.
Take the time to find out what differentiates your brand, go the extra mile; it will be well worth the effort when you step out of the crowded, and competitive landscape.