Differentiating your brand from the competition

The user’s value system is found in their DNA of experiences.

The user’s value system is found in their DNA of experiences.

Brand differentiation comes from the user’s perception

There is not a huge amount of difference between leading brands. Depending on the category, almost all brands offer the same feature, function, and benefit to the user.

What makes a differentiated brand?

First, let’s explore the idea of a brand.

 Brand: noun

1 a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name: a new brand of detergent.

• a brand name: the company will market computer software under its own brand.

• a particular identity or image regarded as an asset: you can still invent your own career, be your own brand | the Michael Jordan brand certainly hasn’t hurt them.

• a particular type or kind of something: his incisive brand of intelligence.

The emphasis is to stand apart and stand for something.

A brand also allows companies to manufacture different models under the same brand name.

For example, Gulfstream Aerospace manufactures the following aircraft: Gulfstream G150, Gulfstream G280, Gulfstream G450, etc.

The intent is for the brand to offer more features and better performance as you move up the price chain.

Which leads us to brand differentiation

The simplest explanation is one of branding cattle. Each cattle ranch burned a unique mark into the hide of the cow or steer it owned. This was done to separate specific animals from the herd in the early days of open range grazing. This basic concept is the foundation for trademarks, which leads to brand differentiation.

Brand differentiation in the digital age

Branding strategy has expanded to include digital platforms and social media networks. The primus of the expansion was for brands to interact with individual users who in turn would become brand advocates, spreading the gospel about how wonderful the product performed and why all their digital friends should try it.

And for a while, this was the thinking behind investing in social media networks and spreading tweets and likes.

The reality

Brand differentiation comes from the user. It is the user’s value system that determines brand preference.

The user’s value system is found in their DNA of experiences. Their value system can change based on aspirational goals, financial conditions, or maturing of values that come with age.

Marketers that strive for brand differentiation must appeal to the user’s emotional needs and fulfill these needs by brand association that serves a higher calling than feature, function, and benefit.

This is not an easy task. It is the job of marketing to uncover what is unique to the brand and communicate in such a way as to create an emotional connection with the user.

It can’t be automated, digitized, or replicated. It has to be unique, authentic, and reach the user on a personal level that melds into a lasting connection. It must be “lived” by those in care of the brand and treated as an ember that will be extinguished if left unattended.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Investing in your brand perception

Connecting decision makers with your brand

Why bother with branding?

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Image credit: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

Aviation Marketing: 7 social marketing trends for airlines

Blog_77_irlines are embracing people-to-people marketing

Airlines are embracing people-to-people marketing

“The State of Airline Marketing,” published by Airtrends.com and SimpliFlying, takes a global look at innovative social marketing using case studies. The report identifies trends such as experiental, location-based, co-creation and social loyalty incentives. Below is my interpretation of their report with focus on people-to-people marketing trends.

1. EXPERIENTAL – Traditional branding tactics are becoming increasingly less effective when trying to reach a jaded flying public. Heretofore, “consumers,” once viewed as a target audience or demographic are now viewed as customers. This shift in perspective requires a people-to-people marketing approach as airlines are turning to the brand experience to capture the attention and imagination of people interested in their service offering.

2. SOCIAL CARE – Today’s traveler is connected to his or her social networks via a smart phone or tablet. These mobile devices provide a conduit for praise or bashing when frustrated with a product or service that does not meet expectations. It is important for airlines to tackle the problem at the place where it occurs, building goodwill and turning a dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate.

3. ON LOCATION – Aviation brands want to interact with customers no matter the location. From QR codes at taxi stops to scavenger hunts using twitter hashtags, airlines are increasingly “going to the customer.” This location effort puts a human quality to the corporate brand.

4. BACK TO REALITY – To connect with the customer, airlines are seeking and using user-generated content to open a window into the interworking of airline operations and the logistics involved with travel.

5. CROWDSOURCING – Airlines are using crowdsourcing to determine the priorities of the customer. Good ideas are not the exclusive domain of the airline. Customer ideas are being incorporated into variety of product innovations, loyalty rewards, and tablet applications.

6. VIRAL VIDEOS – Airlines are learning to be their own media outlets. Those that demonstrate creativity in their marketing are being rewarded with millions of views on social channels, thus reducing the cost of bought media.

7. SOCIAL LOYALTY & GAMIFICATION
Airlines are tapping into location-based services to track loyalty in terms of repeat visits as well as social advocacy. By offering real-world rewards to fans and followers who promote their brand online, airlines add an element of gamification to their marketing.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

How mobile application development drives people-to-people marketing

Defining your brand personality

3 ways social media can help build your brand

To download a copy of “The State of Airline Marketing” click here.

To learn more about SimpliFlying click here.

To lean more about Airtrends.com click here.