Competitive differentiation: Seek and you shall find//
Over our twenty years of branding and marketing practice, a consistent theme has been how many companies find it difficult to articulate a clear and differentiating positioning. The simple answer to the question ‘why should I buy your product in preference to that of the competition?’ What is it that you want to be famous for? What position do you want to occupy in the customers’ mind? Are you the value brand, the heritage brand, the thought leader, the innovator, the caring brand, the demonstrably better product brand, the customer-centric brand?
The answer to that question doesn’t lie in a marketing manual. If you haven’t already found it and if you’re not already exploiting it, more often than not, in our experience, it is to be found inside the company. Sometimes it’s just below the surface, sometimes buried in history or heritage, a unique process or a thing that’s been taken for granted for years because nobody thought it could be the difference.
For Lakes Bathrooms it came from the fact that the things the competition offered as extras, like a nanotechnology coating on shower glass to make cleaning easier, Lakes included as standard, creating a price/performance advantage.
We helped capture the positioning in our ‘superior as standard’ line and they have gone from strength to strength by building on that positioning with new cost neutral additions.
For Hepworth, makers of clay drainage pipes, we found the difference by touring their quarry and interrogating the chap who operated the ‘calcinator’. Turned out this was a globally unique manufacturing process which reduces the clay to a finer powder, creating a purer, straighter pipe. There was much else too. Effectively, the deeper we dug, the more gold we found. It inspired the positioning ‘fired to perfection’ and a launch campaign which firmly re-established the brand in its market.
The ‘seek and you shall find’ philosophy has produced the goods every time we’ve employed it, in fields as diverse as education, facilities management, electronic warfare and financial services.
Competitive differentiation can build brand loyalty and advocacy, focus communications, achieve cut-through, direct R & D and improve marketing efficiency and ROI. Not a bad return for a little soul searching.