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Brands stand apart, commodities blend in. Which one are you?

Marketing experts agree that business success in today’s crowded and competitive marketplace means you have to stand out.

Seth Godin says the key to success is ‘to be the purple cow in a field of monochrome Holsteins’.

Philip Kotler says, ‘If you are not a brand, you are a commodity’.

Brands stand out. Commodities blend in in a sea of sameness.  

I remember walking into the reception area of my new office building in 2016 and counted eight accounting firms listed on the business directory board. Assuming they’re all great at what they do, how would I know which one to choose if I’m in the market for a new accountant? The answer is I wouldn’t know, unless they had a differentiated brand.

The way to differentiate your brand from others is to be highly distinctive on two fronts – brand image and brand messaging.

Brand image refers to the unique style and attitude of a brand. For best positioning, this image needs to relate to the specific attribute or point of difference a business uses to separate itself from competitor alternatives in the mind of the customer. For example, Mercedes-Benz projects an image of prestige, and uses this image to position itself as the preferred choice of luxury vehicle for discerning buyers.

Brand messaging refers to language and tonality used in the tagline or positioning statement that encapsulates the specific attribute or point of difference of a brand in a way that appeals to the target audience. For example, the Mercedes-Benz tagline of ‘The best or nothing’ emphasises excellence in engineering, safety and luxury, which is how it wants to be perceived by those it wishes to attract.

Use the Brand Positioning Distinctiveness Model above to plot your current brand image and brand message distinctiveness.

Anything below the mid-line means you are more likely to be out of sight and out of mind in the marketplace.

If the distinctiveness of your brand image and brand message are both low, you are more likely to be invisible in the marketplace.

If the distinctiveness of your brand image is low and the distinctiveness of your brand message is high, you may be remembered for a short time but you will soon be forgotten.

If the distinctiveness of your brand image is high and the distinctiveness of your brand message is low, you are more likely to be memorable but perhaps not in the longer term.

The ideal position for any business is to have high distinctiveness of brand image and high distinctiveness of brand message. This ultimate level of distinctiveness will more likely leave an indelible (unforgettable) impression of your brand in the minds of prospects and establish clear market positioning for your brand.

You’ll find more practical information about how to position your brand so you stand out in the marketplace in my latest book, ‘Enhance Your Reputation – how to build a brand people want to work for, buy from and invest in’. You can get a copy here

©Ros Weadman 2022 Ros Weadman is a brand communication and reputation specialist who combines her professional expertise in strategic communications, psychology and education to help people and organisations build a purpose-driven brand and strong positive reputation. 

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