I’ve written several blogs about how important differentiating your brand is, and how a differentiation strategy should be included in your strategic brand platform. I offered several approaches, and here’s yet another one.
You can differentiate your brand by owning an attribute.
Here you concentrate on a particular characteristic of your offering, whether that be a product or a service. That’s just what Volvo has done, and the attribute they own is safety.
Again, I go to the “source”, the book named Differentiate or Die by Trout and Rivkin. They state that focus is the key. Find your attribute and concentrate on making it the lynch pin of your messaging, your product development and your brand promise. But as Trout and Rivkin also point out, all attributes are not equal.
So you’ll want to determine two very important pieces of information. First, are there any attributes important within your product category that are not presently owned by another brand, and second, can you legitimately make that attribute yours?
You begin by inventorying attributes and asking customers and prospects to name others. Then ask them which are the most important to them. This may involve some sophisticated research and analysis in order to discover real intentions and motivations. Responders quite often feed back to interviewers the answers they think the interviewer wants to hear. The analysis, too, may be statistically complex as well.
Once you have the attributes listed and rated as to importance to consumers, you then ask another set of responders from the same universe to rank you and your competitors against each attribute.
What we’re after here are consumer impressions and perceptions. We may know for a fact that a particular competitor makes a shoddy shell for their toaster, but if customers love that design and are convinced its quality, you’ll have a hard time convincing them otherwise.
Once you’ve identified the attribute not now owned by a competitor and important to the market, assess your capabilities and temperament in fulfilling that void and still make a profit with it.
Stay tuned for further approaches to differentiation – it’s important.