Many brands aim for differentiation in their growth strategy. But is being different all it really takes to stand out?
Insight: To grow a brand, the strategy needs to be in line with the core business targets and goals.
Data: 77% of B2B marketing leaders say branding is critical to growth. (Circle Research)
Key Action Point: Pay attention to different rules for brand growth and harness your brand’s value as a point of differentiation that makes you stand out from everyone else.
Growing Your Brand: The Byron Sharp Way
“It only takes 10 seconds for people to form an impression of your brand.“
For many years, marketers have come up with different theories in the best way to grow a brand. In Byron Sharp’s controversial book, How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know, it doesn’t take a lot.
According to Sharp, it’s all about
- Making your brand as widely available as possible
- Using brand assets (logos, brand colours, etc) that stand out in a sensory way
Sharp believes simple and consistent brand assets are easy to remember, grab attention, trigger instinctual responses, and make you distinct from everyone else.
By just having a signature colour for your brand, it can boost brand recognition by 80%. Through it all, consistency is key. According to LucidPress, brands that are consistently presented are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience brand visibility.
Credits to: Brandgenetics.com
Brand Differentiation: Being Different Means to Be Distinctive
“89% of brand users don’t think their brand is different from competitors.”
— Byron Sharp
In our previous War for Attention post, we talked about how brands can cut through the noise by winning the war for attention and capturing the heart of your audience through great products or content.
But in a study released by the Australian Marketing Journal highlighting evidence concerning the importance of perceived brand differentiation, it has been found that brand differentiation in itself, in terms of product or service offering, is not a key driver for buyer behaviour.
If you think about it, all brands are different. But what makes brands truly stand out is how they make themselves distinct from everyone else so they can cut through the noise and enable their customers to recognise and identify them.
In fact, the study found that for Apple, one of the world’s most unique brands, 77% of users did not perceive it to be different at all — and this was in spite of Apple having a completely different operating system.
This surprising result proves that marketers did not need to convince their market that their brand is different to get them to buy. Rather, the right nod to the brand differentiation theory is that brand awareness, distinctiveness, and salience are what makes brands meaningfully different.
The most successful brands that have achieved tremendous growth are never those who shy away from who they are and what they can offer. It’s all about finding yourself and being distinctly you.
“To ensure that consumers keep buying a particular brand, it needs to stand out so that buyers can easily, and without confusion, identify it.”
— The Australian Marketing Journal
Brands that cut through the noise and lead in their category are valued more and have been known to inspire more customer loyalty.
So what makes a brand stand out?
According to the Australian Marketing Journal, the following distinctive elements help make a brand stand out:
- Brand name
- Brand colours
- Advertising styles
These distinctive elements communicate the brand easily and help consumers to identify the brand.
The report also states that this is essential “to create, refresh, or reinforce consumer memory structures in order to build consumer-based brand equity (Aaker, 1996; Keller, 2003), or to facilitate actual purchase by making the brand easier to locate. The stronger/fresher these distinctive qualities, and the more links in memory, the easier it is for the consumer to identify the brand.”
Here are other key statistics that support this:
- 59% of consumers prefer to purchase new products from “familiar” brands (Nielsen)
- 86% of consumers prefer an authentic and honest brand personality on social networks (Sprout Social via HubSpot)
- Consistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue by up to 23% (Forbes)
- 73% of consumers love a brand because of great customer service (Harris Interactive via Curatti)
Targeting the Infrequent UsersWhen you’re focused on growth and scale for your brand, not only do you target your best customers, you also make sure you have something to offer for every user segment. This means considering user behaviour and demographics, how well they know your brand, location, culture, and interests.
Identify these segments and tailor your strategy accordingly based on your value offer. What’s important is getting every lead to a particular customer journey that may lead to a specific and targeted result such as:
- Getting a lead or user to the shortest sales cycle path
- Getting a lead or user to try out a product or a service
- Getting a lead to try out a cheaper priced product quickly
When you're focused on lead quality, It’s all about analysing how you can be where they are so you can attract their attention and help them acknowledge a need, offer the right product or service, and give them the best customer experience so they continue to come back or recommend you to those that matter.
Achieving Volume and Promoting Availability
“Successful growth brands (ones with the highest market share) are the ones with universal appeal and the biggest customer base.” — Byron Sharp, How Brands Grow
In striving for growth, brands need to reflect on whether or not increasing volume and the stock quantity of products is the way to go where achieving their business goals is considered.
Most of today’s brands define growth very differently. For some, achieving growth may be solely focused on scaling the production and distribution of their products, but for other brands, focusing on improving and achieving optimum brand value is enough.
Whichever goal your brand is focused on, making your brand accessible to as big an audience as possible is crucial.
Most brands make the same mistake of focusing their strength on the market they are strong in, and although this makes sense for brands just starting out, to truly achieve growth means extending your reach to bigger markets that allow your brand to scale in.
Successful brands (those with the highest market share) are the ones with universal appeal and the biggest customer base.
With this, it is important to ask yourself:
- Are you ready and able to keep up with any surge in demands on your brand’s products?
- Are your current distribution methods able to support any additional volume for growth?
- What scalable methods are you using to promote accessibility to your brand’s products?
Addressing these points is necessary so that you can avoid operational bottlenecks when you are trying to scale your brand. This allows you to maintain your brand’s position in a competitive marketplace.
Tying It Together
Every brand strives for growth at one point or another. More than anything, businesses look at growth as proof that their marketing efforts are working and target revenues are being achieved or even exceeded.
For brands looking to scale, assess the kind of growth you can truly commit to that is realistic and achievable; this allows you to retain existing customers and get new ones, explore new offerings for different segments while safeguarding your brand’s reputation for delivering value and great customer experience.