What is a brand differentiator?
A brand differentiator is what sets your brand/business apart. Highlighting differences between your business and competitors. It is a difference that your target audience views as a reason to select your business. Instead of the other options available.
Differentiators can be in pricing, service, support, and more. It doesn’t have to be one thing and it can be a combination of things that set your business apart.
How to identify a brand differentiator
A solid differentiator is something that can set the tone in the market. A differentiator that cannot be easily duplicated. This gives a brand a head start in securing the clients that find value in the difference.
Starting a new business is difficult. Establishing a business in a competitive market can feel impossible. With proper planning and a strategic eye. The answers for how to make a place for yourself are upfront and center.
Evaluate the product/service as well as the industry. Look at the need that’s is being addressed. The solutions on the market and their level of consistency.
Do you the due diligence of checking for consumer feedback. Not the one-offs but the consistent comments. The larger the like-minded audience and feedback. The clearer the opportunity for the differentiator.
You’ve identified the differentiator now what?
There are several approaches from this point and it comes down to where you are in your business.
New businesses can make it their calling card. A solid strategy is to respond to the feedback that you’ve identified. Gather feedback and engagement. Present a “what if” scenario and gauge the value of the solution.
Build brand messaging around it. Taking the feedback and baking it into the messaging. As a new player in the market, it takes work to get noticed. But when you do the work leading up to launching the business. You can already have a following ready to be your brand ambassadors.
Existing businesses have a different path that they can take with promoting differentiators. I say different because there is history on their side and that could be used against them.
Here’s an example of how Burger King is approaching a marketing campaign. The campaign against other fast-food competitors. The “Keep It Real Meals” campaign. It is an attempt to separate themselves from their competitors like Mc Donalds. One that has been in the works for over a year. Set in motion with their “Moldy Whopper” campaign. Highlighting the removal of artificial preservatives.
By running the “Moldy Whopper” campaign a year ahead of the current healthier campaign. They laid the groundwork for saying we see where we went wrong. Here’s how we’re addressing the artificial ingredients issue. This leaves their competitors in a spot. The competitors who have already invested in celebrity campaigns now have to pivot.
When you’re in a battle for control of market share. Looking to win over new customers from competitors is an effective strategy. A well-thought strategy with steps taken in advance to mitigate the risks.
This isn’t Burger King saying that they’re the healthiest option. It is a play at being a healthier option. One that leaves them room for error. This we heard you and we are a making changes campaign. Will serve to help them gain a competitive edge. Albeit temporarily but with a purpose. They’re using it to gather insights through their loyalty program.
Does the size of the business matter when attempting to get a competitive edge?
The size of the business matters less than the size of the differentiator. If you’ve managed to corner the market on what separates you from the other businesses. You can be a one-person shop and still have the edge. It won’t matter.
There is an audience that prefers solopreneurs and small business owners. A key differentiator in these situations is the personal touch. Concerned about being handed off to another team member.
Some consumers prefer a hungry business. One that will work harder for the business than a more well-established larger brand.
It comes down to Brand messaging and framing of the business. A well-thought strategy and brand message will speak to its strengths. While also highlighting shortcomings.
“We aren’t the larger franchise that has thousands of employees. We’re a small shop that remembers your name, your orders, and your preference.” Selling the personalized experience.
How to use a brand differentiator for a competitive edge conclusion
When looking for ways to differentiate your brand and gain a competitive edge. It is important to do your audience research. Niching down will allow you to speak to a core audience. You have to make sure that the audience is large enough to be profitable.
Identify differentiators by evaluating the market. Look for the ones that aren’t being addressed
and have a shelf life. A differentiator that is short-lived. Will limit the methods of promoting it to the target audience. If it doesn’t seem like it would age well leave it alone.
Think through the marketing strategy and the approach. Test small before jumping with both feet. Have a way to gather analytics and feedback. The learnings and insights will help shape the full marketing campaign.
Seek out brand ambassadors and brand champions. People that can back up your claim of being the better option due to the differences. Add the positive feedback and comments into the brand messaging. The people in need will pretty much write the script for you.
Once you’ve identified the differentiators and the audience. Run your marketing campaigns and promotions. It’s not necessary to name competitors by name. The results of the differentiators will take care of that for a business.