Ever been hit by confusion in a store over the sheer amount of choices before you? Confusion sets in because you have no clear preference or can’t distinguish between available products. This daily task of choice can be a burden for the consumer. So, as you develop your business, a key question to ask is “what will distinguish my product or service from those of competitors? What will make it different?”
Brand differentiation is an organic factor in branding. Besides the quality of your products, it provides another layer of value. There are 7 ways to create brand differentiation; what we call the Brand Septagon.
The Brand Septagon
Uncommoditise your product or service
Product commoditisation occurs when your profit margins are so thin, you must sell volumes to break even. Competing products abound and the customer has no particular reason to buy your products. An example of a company that successfully uncomoditised a popular product is Starbucks.
Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse in the world and leading retailer of specialty coffee revolutionised the product by creating the distinctive Starbucks experience. Some people go there to be alone with their thoughts or be together with their friends or listen to incredible music. Starbucks is more than just a coffee place.
Create corporate distinction
To create corporate distinction, ensure your organisation is known for a particular area of speciality. An example is Google’s global dominance in Internet search. The organisation distinguished itself through search quality and innovation. A remarkable feat is the adaption of the word ‘Google’ as a verb which has earned a place in the dictionary. Google continues to set the pace with new inventions like Google Glass.
Celebrate your customers
A secret to attracting and retaining customers is to make them feel special, different and appreciated. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (MOHG) connects its advertising campaign to international celebrities who regularly stay at the hotel and consider themselves fans. Fans include Kevin Spacey, Christian Louboutin and Jane Seymour. Mandarin Oriental donates $10,000 to any charity the fan chooses.
Retain your customers
You must ensure that customers don’t leave unexpectedly. Make exit difficult by tying them in through loyalty schemes or points. For example, in an attempt to penetrate the American market, Virgin America offered a free round-trip ticket to any location in America after four paid round-trips.
Make it easy for customers to compare the advantage of one product over another
Share your price advantage or new product features on your website. For example, the world’s largest retailer, Amazon sells electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys, and other consumer products. It makes price comparison between vendors easy.
Make it hard for new competitors to access your market
Raise the competition bar through promotion of excellent standards, innovation or value added items. This makes it difficult for competitors to penetrate your market or steal market share. An example is Microsoft Office. Microsoft offers a full bundle of useful products to customers at an unbeatable price. Consumers love the offer and competitors find it difficult to match the breadth of offerings provided in the single package.
Change the status of everyday utility products into objects of desire. Nike, one of the world’s largest suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel elevates sport shoes into must-have items through partnerships with some of the biggest names in professional sports.
Putting the knowledge of the Brand Septagon into practice will help to differentiate your business. Take the time to score your business or product on the 7 parameters.
BrandIQ is a series by Alder Consulting on why you should brand yourself or company.
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