Unless you’re offering something that nobody has ever thought about before, chances are your product or service is in direct competition with many similar ones. Creating quality isn’t enough and has probably never been.
People need to believe you’re creating quality and choose your brand over the competition. So how do some brands manage to win the hearts of so many customers? Let’s take a look at five powerful brand differentiation strategies and find out.
1. Know your customers
It may seem like a no-brainer, but judging by the many examples of marketing failures, it looks like not all companies understand what their customers want.
To learn more about those who are or may be interested in your brand, you may consider utilizing a CRM tool to track real-time customer behavior and segment your audience based on preferences.
Another useful strategy is to engage on social media authentically, avoiding push advertising, and leverage customer service interactions to collect valuable insights. Finally, your brand should personalize content to cater to customers’ diverse interests, fostering stronger relationships.
By knowing your customers, you can determine the extent to which your brand’s values and messages align with what your customers want to hear. If they don’t align, you have at least two options to consider: 1) Reconsider your brand’s message or 2) Find additional customers that find more value in your message.
2. Tell authentic stories
All brands have their stories. We don’t know how many of them are true, but we do know some stories are powerful and some aren’t. According to research conducted by the Harvard Business Review, as much as 64% of customers say that they trust companies that share their values.
In many cases, brands communicate their values through their stories. For example, brands that are focused on sustainable practices will tell stories that will reflect these values, such as their partnership with conservation organizations.
You don’t want to invent stories and lose your customers’ trust if they find out you aren’t sincere. If you don’t have stories that reflect your brand’s values, make some. Authentic stories may include more powerful messages and they’ll be stories that can bring on your side both those who hear them and those who participated in them.
3. Work with people and businesses that understand your brand
What many powerful brands have in common is their ability to find the best in the field of interest. Working with people and businesses that understand what your brand is all about should mean everyone is on the same page in what concerns a brand’s core values and identity. Such an alignment should create a cohesive and consistent brand image across all touchpoints.
One can assume that brand understanding goes hand in hand with brand expertise. As such, at least some of your key employees and partners should be those with relevant experience and skills to your brand’s offering. If, for example, your brand specializes in sustainable fashion, you may want to collaborate with those who have a background in sustainable design.
All the above considered, one can conclude that there is a need to know whether your potential employee or business partner has proven experience that is relevant to your brand. With this in mind, find useful contacts by relevant criteria, such as name, location, education, professional skills, and more, on Leadar or similar platforms providing quality B2B contact databases and establish meaningful connections with them.
4. Be an expert in your field and prove it
Potential customers and partners may be more likely to trust you if they believe you’re an expert in your field. The exact strategy you need to follow to establish yourself as an expert will vary by industry. That being said, there are some general aspects to consider.
As a general rule of thumb, people will assume you have a better understanding of a product if your education or professional experience is associated with that product. For example, if you represent a financial company but have a history of financial failures, customers and partners will be skeptical of you and might run away.
Sometimes it’s impossible to use your academic or professional history as proof of brand expertise. That doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do. In the digital area, you can discover many, many ways in which you can establish yourself as a thought leader. You can leverage social media to present your business to a large audience and show them that you know what you’re talking about. You can even consider writing books about your brand and topics relevant to it.
5. Don’t become outdated
Last but not least, the majority of powerful brands need to innovate constantly. While the speed of change varies from industry to industry, few areas remain the same for decades. What works today may not work one year from now. This is a consideration that may not have been taken into account by past giants who are now more spectators than actors. Think of Nokia, which was once one of the most powerful brands in the mobile phone industry, or of Yahoo!, which was a tech giant competing with Google.
What these examples show us is that when companies fail to adapt to changing trends, they lose ground. Another way of saying the same is that if you’re successful now, don’t assume your position will remain unchallenged, and plan ahead by observing financial, social, and other relevant trends.
Bottom line: The one-size-fits-all recipe for brand success is originality
Being a powerful brand is more than just providing a quality product or service. As long as customers have more than one option, you need to differentiate yourself from the competition not only by offering a better quality-price ratio but also by developing a branding strategy that has ingredients missing in the strategies of your competition.
To do so, you need to know your customers and partners and be able to communicate with them effectively. To win the trust of your customers and other relevant actors, you need to be an expert on your brand, work with other experts, and keep in mind that what works today may not work tomorrow.