Realizing what it is that makes your brand different, is a powerful force. It allows you to reach a specific person with your message and serve them in a unique way.
What is the one thing your brand does that no one else is doing?
In his book “ZAG,” Marty Neumeier, talks about finding your “onliness.” Onliness is something unique about doing business with you. Determining your onliness, isn’t easy. A lot of times we are so focused on keeping up with others that we aren’t even able to think about something radically different that we could be doing in in our business or ministry to serve our people well.
If you’re ready to let your brand be different, these two terms will be helpful: brand positioning and differentiation.
Brand Positioning is the first step in building a strong brand. It is the process by which you strategically place your product, service or company in a customer’s mind to obtain a competitive advantage. This is a process you must work through as a business leader. It is the springboard for communicating your message, marketing your services, and even how you structure pricing.
A few common positioning strategies are cost-driven positioning, industry or role focused specialization and quality of service.
Cost-driven positioning says, “We do that too, but cheaper.” This works for brands like Walmart and McDonald’s. They are known for being a place you can get a great deal for the whole family.
Industry specialization says, “We offer this service but with a unique understanding of your particular market.” A business coach who intentionally works with clients in the health and nutrition field is able to challenge them in their business in ways another coach may not understand.
Similar to industry specialization is role-focused specialization. This position promises to meet the needs of a unique role within a business or organization. “We help ministry leaders cast vision and empower their teams” shows the ideal client that this is a company that gets their pain points, thus building trust.
Quality of service specialization is essentially “We do this, but we do it better.” Although companies have been positioning themselves in this way for years, it’s a tough sell and not the most highly recommended strategy.
Does one of these resonate with how you’d like to position your brand?
While brand positioning is determining where we place ourselves in the mind of our clients, differentiation is the result. Differentiation allows us to establish a unique market position, in effect, increasing the value of what we offer.
David Aaker, author, professor and all-around marketing guru, describes how this plays out a bit further. He stresses the value in moving from being the preferred brand among competitors to becoming the ONLY brand considered because no competitor is offering what YOU have to offer. The latter, he calls brand relevance. You have a relevant brand when you know what your ideal clients need, and you are able to identify a solution to a problem or meet a desire that exists in a category all on its own.
Times have changed. Marketing has changed. The emphasis used to be on features (what a product has). Then it shifted to benefits (what it does) and later, experience (how it makes you feel). In today’s marketing arena, the focus goes much deeper, identification (who you are).
Because of this shift in what our clients are searching for, differentiation has become even more important. Everyone wants to be accepted and understood. We are drawn to brands that can peer into our souls and help us to identify who we are. And when this happens we become part of that tribe. The brand we love is no longer just another brand, it’s irreplaceable.
If you can communicate what makes your brand irreplaceable, you have a strong brand. You will attract ideal customers and you will be confident in your ability to serve them or provide a product to them that no one else can.
Fill in the blanks to complete your onliness statement:
“My brand is the ONLY _____________ (name of business category) that _____________ (differentiator).”