standing out in a sea of sameness
“Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”
Theodore Levitt, the father of modern marketing
For the past 75 years, few ideas have held more sway and influence in the world of marketing than brand differentiation. Intrinsically linked to brand positioning and the unique selling proposition, brand differentiation and development of strong brands represents the gold standard to which most businesses aspire.The main reason why? Strong brands that are perceived as uniquely different
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
~ Dr Seuss
“If you stand for something, you will always find some people for you and some against you. If you stand for nothing, you will find nobody against you, and nobody for you.”
All brands face the same choice: to fit in or to stand out.
Most brands look like proverbial pigeons: familiar, slightly drab and mottled in appearance. Secure in a sea of sameness, they look like their competitors and blend into the background. Strong brands are like peacocks. Larger-than-life, multi-coloured and outrageously beautiful. They zig when their competitors zag.
Most brands believe that fitting in and following the market reduces commercial risk and increases a brand’s market opportunity. Strong brands know that the riskiest thing a brand can do is to follow the lead of others and get lost in the chasing pack.
Whilst strong brands accept that uniqueness polarizes opinion, they know that difference draws attention and creates deep, powerful connections. The stronger the emotional connection between brand and consumer, the more loyal the consumer, the bigger the profit opportunity.
When consumers are confronted by a sea of sameness, only two things matter. Do consumers want to buy a commodity product and if so, which brand can be bought for the best price? A profitless race to the bottom that doesn’t benefit anybody in the long term.
In today’s unforgiving and highly competitive world, being perceived as different is essential to win and grow market share. If consumers believe that a brand is the same as another, then it can be easily substituted. If a brand is perceived as different and desirable in the eyes of consumers, then the brand’s competitive set diminishes, and profit potential rises substantially. The brand effectively operates in a market of one with little or no competitive set.