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An unoriginal brand is unlikely to succeed because it’s constantly chasing brands that are already on the market and have already taken a space in consumers’ minds. To achieve maximum success, you need to position your brand against competitors by differentiating it in some way.
Of course, differentiators don’t have to be huge to be effective. Avis stole market share from Hertz by telling the world, “We try harder.” Subtlety can work.
Following are the key steps you need to take to effectively differentiate your brand from competitor brands. No one likes a copycat, so use these steps to claim your own space in consumers’ minds.
Do Your Competitive and Consumer Research
What do consumers want from a brand like yours? What’s missing on the market that your brand delivers?
By gathering data about the marketplace, you can identify the gaps and fill them. However, you need to go a step further and look beyond the data. Your research goal should be to learn about consumers’ feelings about existing brands and emotions that affect their purchase decisions.
Identify Your Brand Differentiators
Once you’ve done your research, identify areas where you can fill gaps, seize opportunities, and stake your claim on a unique position in the market and in consumers’ minds.
Keep in mind that differentiators can be both hard and soft, and some can take a significant amount of time to prove. For example, hard differentiators are tangible and include price, size, ingredients, features, and so on. On the other hand, soft differentiators are intangible and often drive an emotional connection between consumers and the brand. The luxury of Tiffany jewelry and the status symbol of the Cadillac brand are both soft differentiators that are developed over time through consistent and persistent brand-building.
Attach Emotion to Your Differentiators
There is nothing more powerful in branding than an emotional connection between consumers and your brand. Therefore, it’s critical that you attach emotions to your brand differentiators. As you learned above, soft differentiators present a perfect opportunity to connect emotions to your brand.
Remember that at its core, a brand is a promise to consumers, and to be successful, it must meet that promise in every customer interaction. How does the promise of your brand make consumers feel? Use those feelings as a jumping-off point to attach emotion to each of your brand differentiators.
Turn Differentiators into Meaningful Messages and Relevant Experiences
Once you’ve identified your brand differentiators and how you can attach emotion to them, it’s time to turn them into relevant marketing messages and brand experiences that are consistent with your brand promise. Your brand messages and experiences should tap into consumers’ emotions in a relevant way so that their perceptions of your brand are continually shaped in the way you want.
Don’t create marketing messages and brand experiences and call it a day. To truly gain a competitive edge, you need to tell your brand story. Just as no two people share the same story, neither should two brands. Be unique, and consumers will reward you for it.
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.