Being Different

Meaningful differentiation is a critical driver of brand success, first because it provides brands with the means of upsetting the status quo, and second because it can allow a brand to command a premium price. We see tremendous opportunities for brands that can, through innovation in a variety of forms, establish meaningful differentiation.
Differentiation, is grounded in how a brand is experienced. “Experience” includes both tangible and intangible brand assets as well as the context in which a brand is encountered. In reality, meaningful differentiation is related to distinctiveness. A brand achieves “distinctiveness” when it has a unique and unmistakable identity, which could be based on a number of things: brand name, logo, packaging, colors, advertising style, etc. They might better be thought of as a continuum.
The most common form of differentiation is the creation of original and distinctive communication assets. Examples abound across categories: an iconic mascot like Tony the Tiger, the fun and playful packaging of Innocent Smoothies, or a memorable slogan like “You’re in good hands with Allstate.”
Taking a differentiating feature and making it into a positive and sustainable advantage is a core means by which marketing grows brand value.
To command a higher price, be different. The basis for Apple’s success is consistently great product innovation, but Apple also goes beyond functional differentiation to project a unique personality and a clear set of values.
All brand owners should work to establish genuine points of meaningful product differentiation. And even where there is limited scope for functional differentiation, brands should still strive to differentiate through their personality and values.