Differentiating your brand cost effectively ~ Brand Mix

Monday, August 23, 2010

Differentiating your brand cost effectively

It takes time, effort, creativity and money for brands to successfully differentiate themselves from the competition. It takes brilliance in innovation or design or advertising creativity or customer service or a combination of these and other factors to develop a brand that stands out from the crowd.

All this effort has its reward. Differentiation translates into products and services that are worth more to people. They will pay more for them and be more loyal to them. If the products are really differentiated, people may even queue all night for them.

But will consumers pay enough for all the brilliance and hard work? Can you drive enough revenue from your sources of differentiation to cover the cost of the resources required to create them?

This was a key principle expressed by Michael Porter in his book: Competitive Advantage, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. As Porter says: "Differentiation leads to superior performance if the price premium achieved exceeds any added costs of being unique." It's the net benefit that counts.

This way of thinking comes in handy when considering brand architecture. In a typical scenario, we will be working with a business that has grown organically or by acquisition and has more brands in its portfolio than it can manage or support. The principle of net benefit provides a framework for evaluating the portfolio. Which brands are pulling their weight? Which are not? Could a streamlined portfolio widen the gap between differentiated-driven revenue and costs? Often it turns out that less is more, even when portfolios are made up of well-known brands.

And that's the beauty of this net benefit principle. It creates a bias towards simplification and puts the focus on sources of value. There are many ways to differentiate. The net benefit principle can help you evaluate which of all those ways is the most effective.

Photo: and sometimes I have to do it all in COLOR by Robert S Donovan on Flickr


Simon Gornick said...

Critical thoughts. But being a no-budget marketer of my own services, the equation doesn't really enter the transom. Differentiation is vital because I'm in a crowded online marketplace, and yet I don't have the spend to express it without profound and compelling ingenuity.

Martin Bishop said...

@simon: Thanks for your comment (and the other one about the carpets).

I think that, even without a budget, the principle can be useful. Time becomes the critical variable--> Which activities help differentiate you the most efficiently and effectively?

Door Hangers said...

Very interesting read. Indeed, it takes a lot for a brand to have an edge over competitors. It's a matter of getting the right elements to achieve brand differentiation.

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