Art Meets Science: Brand Competition Done Right
Branding is a mix of both art and science. Believe it or not, it’s more scientific than you think. When it comes to business, most companies operate in a crowded marketplace. There are many similar businesses providing similar services. Sure every brand thinks they’re better, smarter, faster, easier, special. And many are! But how do you quantify these incredibly subjective adjectives? How do you add meaning to the ones that feel right for your business? And how can you stand out from the crowd to ensure your brand is the chosen one every time?
The great debate of marketing strategy. Marketing has evolved and there’s a great debate over the way forward. Traditionalists believe the secret lies in differentiation, which means being different than the rest. As we see new players pop up often, we have to ask: are businesses really that fundamentally different from each other? If so, how can you convince customers that yours are really meaningful when everyone is saying something incredibly similar? In essence how do ‘how you define and own a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) that’s loaded with power – just for you?’.
Brand positioning and staking your claim. Consumer brands, like toothpaste, compete for physical shelf space. While service and tech brands compete for mental shelf space in people’s minds. The battle for mental real estate and keeping it requires a different approach than shelf placement strategies. Instead it comes down to the brand positioning, visuals, and messaging. Speaking in the voice-of-the-customer creates a powerful brand package. Through repetition it forms a meaningful connection between a brand and its messaging. The tighter this tie, the more it sticks in the mind and becomes easy to recall.
The pros and cons of brand differentiation. Marketers were taught to find the points of difference and hone in on them. After all, there’s no point in identifying the similarities as that will only confuse the audience. By emphasising what your company does differently ‘(and hopefully better)’ than the competition, it allows you to stand out. This approach was called differentiate or die! This is where the UVP emerged – the messaging framework that highlights your uniqueness. When done well, prospective buyers can do their own research to narrow the options to make informed decisions about who will better serve their needs.
Promoting your industry by default. Marketers rely on one of two core tactics – educating and entertaining audiences. The educational part is necessary, but by default also promotes the values of the profession or industry as a whole. It’s unavoidable as prospects need to understand how the service you offer will solve their problems. Dialing up the power for your company comes down to making sure your brand is visually distinctive in a sea of similar service providers. When it comes to brand power, it’s even more essential for new market entrants to dare to be different so that they do not look like anyone else.
The merits of brand distinction. Inside your marketplace, you need to stand out and make it easy for customers to identify your brand in the crowd. This is the essence of brand distinctiveness – visually standing out from the crowd. For service-based and tech brands, people usually need to experience your service before they can feel the difference. This means they need to buy before they really know the difference. When differentiation is hard or maybe not possible pre-purchase, distinction is even more crucial. ‘By weaving together a purpose-driven set of logos, colours, images, and taglines, brands can elevate the strength of the mental ties for recall’.
Decisions are made based on availability. When it’s time to buy, prospects rely on physical or mental availability. If they can’t find who they’re looking for immediately, they pivot quickly to make a brand swap. This high speed substitution can mean a lost sale and fuel for the competition. The purchasing urgency forces brand builders to lay the groundwork long before the buying need arises to secure the mental real estate. With limited attention spans and time, prospects tune out the majority of brands and only pay attention to a select few – thus narrowing the pool long before the buying need arises. Great marketing is about reserving a spot in someone’s mind – and keeping it warmed up and top of mind for the moment buyers are ready to spring into action.
Brand building is about creating meaning. To give your brand the best chance to grow, we believe in embracing both philosophies. In order to be selected you need to show up and be easily identifiable. Standing out from the crowd is the goal with a set of distinctive brand assets that can’t be easily confused or forgotten. Once you’ve captured attention, it’s essential to use it wisely. This is where precise messaging and clarity with value take over. These key brand messages nudge prospects along their buying journey and move them from awareness to consideration and even purchase.
Branding is a balance of beauty and brains. For companies and brand builders who nail the distinction and clear value-based messaging, traction lies in the execution. The brand experience covers all interactions and associations with the brand. Each touch point can strengthen the brand tie. When these points work together in harmony with consistency over time, it builds trust which drives serious revenue. As the CMO at Hunt & Hawk, this is exactly what we do. We unlock growth with a clear brand foundation that makes it easy for prospects to convert and companies to scale.
We live, breathe and eat brands – well at least the brand building part. If you’d like to chat more about what your brand can do for you, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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