Saturday, December 30, 2006

Beat your competition with boldness!

The following is a response I gave in a blog on small business branding. Their attitude towards branding was correct, but I took issue with their answer to a question about how to differentiate a company from the competition. The example company was a kennel and they said the difference could be that they are cheaper and have better service. They arrived at this from basic analysis. I do not believe they dug deep enough - all surface level solutions that are too easy to defeat.

My response:

"As much as I agree with your comments about differentiating yourself from the competition, I find the result of your example to simplistic. When ever I am analyzing a brand project the question I usually ask myself is: Can the competition say this?

General service is too easy - most companies have good service and price can be beaten in 2 seconds. What you are trying to do with focused branding is develop a relationship where commodity solutions do not exist. You can't win on price.

But let's say the kennel has a proprietary service where they use their own trademarked line of shampoos and lotions, then ONLY they can offer this. Now you can build a relationship with your customers based on this difference in service. Once customers become accustomed to your brand of pet products, they will pay a premium to continue using them. Your kennel brand grows through a stronger reputation of quality.

When I work with companies on focusing their brands, it is absolutely amazing what solutions come out with regards to dealing with competition. But of course the companies have to have the balls to do it. Developing your own line of products can be quite daunting, but imagine the benefits. Just having your own line instantly makes the kennel appear like a larger player. It also positions them as experts in their category. The competition uses off the shelf materials - that is not could enough for us.

So yes, if you are bold enough to really position yourselves as leaders in your fields then take a deeper look at how to differentiate. Most companies simply follow the leader and their brands and brand images reflect this. Look in your daily papers, you will see scores of companies yelling that they are cheaper and have better service. They are shooting from the hip.

Take the higher road - you are leaving too much money on the table."

2 comments:

Robert Kingston said...

Ed, This blog looks great... I've already subscribed!

Feel free to drop by SBB for another debate anytime.

Cheers,
Rob

The Branding Experts said...

Thanks Rob. I'm glad I tripped over SBB - a valuable place to visit. I'm passing the link to my peers in the States.

And for anyone browsing here, SBB is 'Small Business Branding' at www.smallbusinessbranding.com.

Here's to a prosperous '07,

Ed

 
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