Brand Differentiation and Why It’s Essential For Success

Brand differentiation is the way by which your brand stands out from the competition. In today’s overcrowded marketplace, having a strong and unique brand is the key to establishing a successful business. 

A person creating a brand differentiation strategy on paper.

Effective differentiation can relate to the physical characteristics of your product or service, the emotional response that your customers have when seeing your brand, the way it is presented, its price point, value propositions, brand story, and even the customer experience. There are a number of ways you can go about differentiating your brand, but the development and application of the most effective brand differentiation strategy is what sets you apart. 

Why is Brand Differentiation Important?

While differentiating your brand from that of your competitors is one of the key benefits of a strong brand differentiation strategy, it also allows you to be more targeted in your marketing efforts and speak directly to your most relevant audience. 

Most products and services today are quite similar–if you don’t have a unique differentiation, oftentimes the only way to generate the interest of the consumer is to have a competitive price. However, offering the lowest price in the marketplace is extremely unsustainable and may even make consumers skeptical of its quality. It is clear that a strong differentiator is ultimately what drives the reputation and success of your brand–one that appropriately and effectively reflects the personality, values, story, promise, and characteristics of your brand. 

Qualities of Brand Differentiation

Oftentimes, firms believe that their differentiator is their employees, customer service, or processes. Even claiming your brand “strives for excellence” is not enough to convince someone to choose your brand. However, consumers believe that every brand should strive to have excellent employees and quality customer service. A successful differentiator is one that meets these three qualities:

1. Honesty

Your differentiator must be realistic and true. Making false claims or over exaggerating is an easy way to lose the trust of your consumers and your brand’s credibility. 

2. Relevancy

A strong differentiator must be valuable to your clients. You can make all the claims you want, but if it is not relevant to your target audience then it is not effective. 

3. Provability

Virtually anyone can make a claim. However, not everyone can prove it. Your differentiator must be able to display action and lead to valuable results. 

Identifying Successful Brand Differentiators

We’ve seen what criteria a strong differentiator should have–so why do so many businesses still get it wrong? Oftentimes, it’s because they performed limited research or have incorrect data. You might think you know what your consumers needs are or what they want, but making assumptions is a dangerous game to play. Many businesses do not have a deep understanding about what their consumers are truly seeking. Spending the time to do your research will help you better identify a meaningful differentiator that will set your brand apart.

Logos of social platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok that have successful brand differentiators.

There are two primary ways for leveraging a strong differentiator. You can identify an already existing characteristic that your firm has and ride its uniqueness, or you can decide on a new differentiator and deliberately build your brand around it.

When pinpointing your differentiator, your decisions must be made in a strategic way so that they are most relevant to your offering, as well as your business’ goals. It can be challenging to identify a strong attribute  that is most relevant and attractive to your consumers, but we’ve identified a few examples of distinct types of differentiators. 

A laptop displaying a company’s brand differentiation goals.
1. Specializing in an industry

This is usually the easiest yet most powerful differentiator your brand could own–it speaks for itself and is relevant to your target audience.

2. Delivering a unique purchasing experience

Give your customers a point-of-purchase experience they will remember and share with others.

3. Focusing on a niche audience

Focusing specifically on a particular audience is an extremely strong differentiator. Whether you choose to market to so-called “baby boomers” or Gen Z, specializing in catering to their needs will take you far.

4. Being the underdog

Consumers love an underdog story that they can empathize with. Emphasizing your brand’s story and including that underdog aspect will serve in building a meaningful  connection with your clients.

5. Making it convenient

In today’s rapidly changing world, convenience is a huge differentiator. By banking on convenience and providing something that just makes life easier for your consumers will make your brand even more desirable than your competitors.

Having Multiple Brand Differentiators

Most successful businesses have several differentiator strategies that allow them to dominate the market and create something unique. Maybe you specialize in a certain industry and have a business model that emphasizes convenience. You may even be an underdog focusing on a nice audience. Regardless of the approach you choose to take, leveraging multiple brand differentiators will set you apart from the competition even more. Furthermore, blending together multiple differentiators will keep your business relevant both in the mind of the consumer, but in the forefront of your industry as well.

Final Thoughts on Brand Differentiation

While differentiating your brand is not an easy challenge, its results are worth it. Building a strong brand differentiation strategy not only determines how you describe your product or service, but who you are and what you stand for as a business. With the knowledge of common mistakes and strong differentiators in hand–you are ready to start creating your strategy and dominating the marketplace. 

Need help differentiating  your business? Contact us today for more information about effectively building and marketing your brand in order to increase its overall awareness and recognition. We can help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and unique attributes in order to stand out from your competition. Contact us and let’s get started!