Brands across the globe and in virtually every industry are suffering from a crisis of differentiation. It seems every time one company discovers something that works well, others race to copy the idea. Professional services, airlines, wireless communication, and insurance are just a few examples of industries in which major brands have become nearly indistinguishable from one another. The primary reason for this: Companies have forgotten how (and why) they need to differentiate their brands.
According to the WPP and Millward Brown 2015 "BrandZ Top 100 Global Brands" Report, which studied brands from 2006 to 2015, differentiation is the single most important contributor to a brand’s success. The top 50 brands in the world achieved an average Difference Score of 139, while the next 50 scored an average of 96. That’s a significant difference.
To be fair, the importance of brand differentiation is not a new idea. It is arguably the basis upon which modern brand management was founded. However, as more recent theories and measurement techniques (such as Net Promotor Score, brand purpose, and brand relevance) have gained traction in the world of marketing — and for good reason — it seems to be at the expense of differentiation. While these concepts all have merit, they do not alleviate the need for differentiation. In fact, they all depend on — if not actually assume — a minimal level of distinction in branding.
What Makes Your Brand Truly Different?
Differentiation is a cornerstone of your strategy in which your brand identifies the one thing that makes it genuinely different—and sets it apart from the competition—and then leverages that element throughout its branding and messaging efforts to effectively attract ideal customers.
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