Brand differentiation is a core marketing concept, but it seems like most organizations forget this simple fact. Wherever you look, you can notice the same strategies and like-minded marketing teams. As soon as one company comes up with something innovative, others embrace the same tactic—no questions asked.
Marketers forget what it means to be creative and original, even though studies reveal that more than 90% of consumers are more likely to buy from an authentic brand. In such circumstances, your goal should be to make a leap forward and distinguish your business from the competition.
It’s not a simple task, but it’s doable if you follow the right strategy. This post will provide tips to make your brand stand out.
TAKE A CLEAR BRAND POSITIONING
Brand positioning is a marketing strategy that aims to make a brand occupy a distinct position, relative to competing brands, in the mind of the customer. What does that mean exactly? It means you need to emphasize the distinguishing features of the brand and highlight its uniqueness.
Keith Langford, a branding advisor at Best Essays, explained how brand positioning works: “As a marketer, you have to present your brand’s unique traits clearly and concisely. Is it premium or low-cost? Is it utilitarian or luxurious? You have to take a stand and build the future marketing activities upon it.”
Traditional brand positioning focused on the simplest feature, answering “what” the brand does for its consumers. However, modern marketing goes beyond this element and answers other questions, too:
Who: Some companies put an emphasis on brand ambassadors who perfectly represent their values and business ambition. This is what Turkish Airlines did with its Legends on Board commercial.
How: Other organizations focus on the way they function and how they provide clients with better services. For instance, T-Mobile is one of the largest telecommunication providers, but it hides this fact by treating users as urban, self-aware individuals.
Why: Brands such as Apple directly address the “why” question, showing people the practical benefits of their products.
DESIGN A SPECIAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Customer experience confuses a lot of entrepreneurs and marketers because they consider a rather technical aspect of the business. Most follow the same pattern and introduce options like a 24-hour delivery, live chat, or money return guarantee.
However, the truth is each brand should design a special customer experience that clearly resonates with its features and peculiarities. Research shows customer experience will overtake price and product as the main brand differentiator by 2020. This means you should analyze an entire consumer journey and detect potential pain points. Solving these issues, you will meet the real requirements of an average customer.
After all, who says you must adopt instant messaging or free shipping? Perhaps your clients demand a more sophisticated customer service, but you just can’t notice it without exploring the consumer journey. Bear in mind there is no such thing as a standard or ideal customer experience. On the contrary, you have to think for yourself and find a solution that suits your clients the most.
A recent survey revealed that two-thirds of customers who feel an emotional connection to a brand say it’s because “they care about people like me.” The logic behind this statement is very simple – consumers don’t want you to treat them as numbers, but rather as real human beings with their own demands and peculiarities.
On the other hand, modern technology enables you to indulge customers and provide each prospect with the most suitable offer. Every user leaves tons of digital traces on your website, and you don’t need more than basic analytics to learn about their wishes and interests.
Google Analytics and similar tools help you understand users’ online behavior and tailor your products accordingly. This is exactly what Amazon is doing with its real-time personalized offers. The company knows your shopping history and therefore has enough contextual knowledge to suggest similar items.
Do you remember Coca-Cola’s 2011 campaign entitled Share a Coke? Several years ago, one of the most influential brands worldwide decided to personalize products by adding common first names. Consumers were thrilled about it, and eager to find their names. It was a simple trick, but it definitely proved the immense power of personalization.
STRENGTHEN BONDS WITH CUSTOMERS
As mentioned, brand differentiation is not directly concerned with sales. On the contrary, the goal is to build a base of loyal clients and strengthen bonds between the brand and its consumers. It might seem like a marketing byroad to inexperienced entrepreneurs, but this is actually a great tactic to boost sales in the long-term perspective.
It’s a well-known fact that 20% of loyal customers generate as much as 80% of the company’s entire profit. In such circumstances, you must do whatever it takes to convince prospects that you care for them.
Social media give you the opportunity to reach out to your target audience and reveal the human side of your business. Keep your style informative but informal, showing that your company really wants to improve customer relations. Let them see how it feels behind the scenes of your business – go live on Facebook, get your employees involved, post interesting office photos, etc.
You need to engage and answer users’ comments, inspiring them to answer back and create the brand-related buzz. This is the only way to create and nurture brand advocates, customers who will maximize the potential of your word of mouth marketing.
DON’T FORGET THE BIGGER PICTURE
Following the established marketing roads will only get you so far. However, it can never really make you an industry leader who works independently to build your own path. You should use professional inspiration and creativity to avoid running a mediocre business.
Organize an occasional brainstorming session with colleagues to see whether you could think of a new idea. Try to think outside the box and break the existing marketing practices. If everybody is taking the same direction, try to come up with something that contrasts the trend.
Of course, you don’t have to take major steps suddenly. You can test different ideas targeting a limited number of prospects to see how they respond. If you receive positive feedback, you can move on and apply the same tactic to the wider audience.
Brand differentiation is a big part of the marketing strategy that should explain to the target audience what makes your products or services better than others. Although it’s crucial for the long-term success and profitability of your business, most companies still fail to realize it to the fullest extent.
If you really want to build a strong and unique brand, you need to understand how differentiation works.