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Brad VanAuken Brand Differentiation Featured

Claiming The Right Differentiating Benefit

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Brand Strategy Brand Differentiation Nordstrom

Many brands focus on being trustworthy, reliable, maintaining high quality standards, developing innovative product and service solutions, delivering outstanding customer service and being highly responsive to customer requests. These areas of foci have led to continuous improvements in customer experiences. However, they have demoted integrity, reliability, high quality, innovation, customer focus and responsiveness from differentiating benefits to “cost of entry” benefits in many industries. Never the less, some brands are still clearly superior or even singular in their delivery against one or more of these attributes/benefits. Consider Apple and innovation or Nordstrom and customer service. One of our clients continues to gain market share by being superior in customer responsiveness. Even if you aren’t the top brand in your category on one or more of these attributes/benefits, it would still behoove you to become as good as possible with at least some of them.

When we work with clients to develop brand positioning statements at our brand positioning workshops and they want to focus on “trustworthy,” “superior quality” or “innovation” as part of their brand promises, we strive to ensure that they are committed to delivering against the chosen attribute, benefit or quality in an exceptional way. For these types of attributes/benefits, it is much more important to deliver on them than it is to talk about them. Taking about something that many brands talk about just blends into marketplace noise. Actually delivering on them in a unique or superior way leads to successful differentiation.

So, by all means, strive to be trustworthy, reliable, high quality, innovative, customer-service oriented and responsive. These could and should be a part of most brands’ DNA. But if you hope to differentiate your brand on one or more of these, know that the hurdles continue to rise for these attributes/benefits and be realistic about what will be truly differentiating for your brand. Then focus on (and invest in) delivering against these attributes/benefits (much more than talking about them in marketing communications).

These additional steps can help when you decide to use these attributes/benefits to differentiate your brand:

  • Build multiple proof points for them into every customer touch point through customer touch point design
  • Make them core organizational values against which employees are hired, evaluated and rewarded
  • Deliberately deliver them in such extraordinary ways that myths and stories are created about them, myths and stories than can go viral with little or no help from your marketing department

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