Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Sources of Brand Differentiation
Brands benefit from a wide variety of sources of differentiation. While many components can contribute to the differentiation, often there are only one or two dominant ones. For instance, Absolut vodka benefits from its unique bottle shape and the promotion of that unique shape. GEICO insurance benefits from its huge advertising budget and it unique and quirky advertising including its charming gecko character. On the other hand, Amazon.com benefits from from being one of the first brands to adopt the online retail model, including its very powerful search and browse technologies. Also, the fact that it plows all of its profits back into business improvement. Uber benefits from a breakthrough business model and the technology that supports it, which drives costs down substantially while improving the customer experience. Robert Graham clothing benefits from its bold product designs, coupled with its highly unusual product features (i.e., custom designed Swarovski crystal buttons) and its interesting tagline - Knowledge, Wisdom, Truth. Tesla Motors automobiles benefit from a visionary product concept (all-electric luxury car), supported by leading-edge high quality luxury features and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Opaque restaurants benefit from a unique restaurant concept - dining in the dark.
While all of the benefits listed above might be classified as some combination of functional, emotional, experiential or self-expressive customer benefits, those benefits derive from different sources. In some instances, it is the result of product design, marketing strategy or advertising genius. In others, it is the result of radical new business models or organizational cultures driven toward excellence.
The point of this is that sometimes marketers create the primary source of differentiation, while in many instances it is something that is typically outside of the marketer's control - visionary leadership, business model design, product design, organizational design, the organization's culture, etc. - that leads to the brand's differentiation.
Think about what differentiates your brand. Visionary leadership, disruptive technologies, radical new business models and cultures of unrelenting excellence often can have a much greater impact than what a marketer can control. What do most all of these have in common? They are are based on a design and innovation mentality, whether it applies to business model design, organization design, product design, product packaging design or marketing strategy/tactic/campaign design, there is some level of design and innovation in each of these examples.