Building a recognisable and compelling brand identity is one of the critical things a company need to accomplish to gain success in these competitive times.
Otherwise, if consumers cannot tell the difference between your company and the competitors – why even bother trying?
One needs to find ways to differentiate your brand from the competitors, set it apart by highlighting unique features and substantial advantages in the field.
That is what brand differentiation is all about.
It covers every aspect of business operation – from the way the logo of the company looks like to the features of the product and its representation.
It is directly connected with the perception of the brand by the consumers – the way the company positions itself, its price policy, presentation of the products and services etc.
There are dozens upon dozens of different ways of constructing brand differentiation strategies.
It is relatively easy to get lost in this goodness.
Here are 12 most effective ways for Brand differentiation.
1 – Meaningful Concept
Here's an undeniable fact: the idea comes first.
Everything else is built around it.
It must ooze the intensity as if it has to defuse a bomb.
A meaningful concept opens up the potential of your branding.
It shows what it is all about – as a company, as a symbol, as a product.
It attracts and builds the audience.
It includes precise definitions of the following things:
- Target audience the company is trying to appeal
- Engaging value shared by your target audience
- Research of the market: What other companies are offering? What are the competition possibilities?
- Probable benefits the company can offer to their customers
- Compelling reasons to trust the company: What are the guarantees that the company will deliver what it promises?
2 – Aesthetics
The first and foremost thing you have to think about upon constructing a brand differentiation strategy is stable and consistent brand iconography and overall aesthetics.
That goes way beyond a memorable logo design to every external aspect of the company – the way buttons on your website look like, specific fonts of choice, the style of illustration, colour schemes, etc.
All this builds up brand identity.
All these elements must be appealing to the customer and be able to present what the company is all about visually.
While doing that you need to keep in mind that all this must serve to highlight the advantages of the company and its product and complement the overall presentation.
3 – On-Site User Experience
User-Friendly website design is the cornerstone of your brand.
It is a calling card of your company.
In many cases, the way it looks defines the perception of the company.
Because of that, it cannot be just an info dump with some generic mumbo-jumbo and contact information.
To make your website relatable but at the same time distinct, you need to go beyond slapping holy trinity of logo, tagline and hero images.
You need to combine appealing and utilitarian elements to forge comfortable user experience.
- Action-oriented intuitive navigation
- Relevant information that is useful for your target audience
- Blog with tips, updates and other content
- More specific guides on essential topics
- Possibility of further communication via chat or comments or contact form
- Thorough company info
Also, keep mobile experience in mind.
Your website must be adaptable to mobile platforms.
That means some changes in the presentation.
First of all, it has to be simplified.
A small mobile screen can handle too many things – the design scheme must be streamlined.
Everything must be on the surface and easy to find.
4 – Accessibility
The best way to differentiate your brand and increase its level of recognition is to make it visible and easily accessible.
It does not mean you have to spend more money on your ad campaigns or something.
It means you need to use internet creatively to boost visibility and accessibility of your brand.
This is achieved through a combination of search engine optimisation and keyword-induced snappy, catchy copywriting.
Mixed with a brand identity that pulls double duty of providing information for those who are looking and giving them a taste of your style.
5 – Smart & Adaptable Pricing
One of the critical elements of making the brand distinct is the way prices for the products and services are formed.
The price must reflect the qualities of the product.
There are two distinct approaches of brand differentiation:
- One strategy is to make the price slightly higher than the average for similar services or products and that must be directly connected and justified by the notion of higher quality. It is called differentiation via perceived quality, pleasant service and other commodities.
- The other solution is to make the product economic bestseller affordable for everyone – countering higher priced competitors with basically the same package.
Either way, the price needs to be justified and explained to your target audience in detail so that they could understand what they are paying for.
6 – Use of Emotions
This might seem odd, but emotions play a significant role in brand perception.
Sometimes specific positioning or design seem to scare off potential customer just because it has the “wrong vibe”.
To impact decision making – you need to create an appealing impression that is further assisted by a reasonable proposal.
You need to convince your customer that your product feels like the right option.
You can do that through creating the right context for making decisions – by taking customer's own experience of using similar products and mashing it with information prepared for comparison.
To quote Missy Elliot – “Is it worth it, let me work it – I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it”.
From a design standpoint that means you need to count in the emotional perception of colour and shape scheme before implementing them.
Regarding positioning, it is a bit more complicated.
The customer is the one who decides to use or not to use services you offer.
However, the decision is based on gut instinct and emotional reaction to the offered product.
7 – Different Style of Competition
The way you react to the market and its transformations is also a significant factor in brand differentiation.
It forms the basis for the customer's perception of the company.
Because of that, you need to be cautious of your actions.
You can study your competitors, but you cannot copy their strategies.
Instead, you need to sock'em your way and “make it new”.
That will add a drastic difference to the brand and will make it stood out from the rest.
To do that you need to be in the know of the state of things in the business, follow the actions of your competitors, study them, find the right spots that were unmentioned, ignored or uncovered and push on them instead.
Another viable option is changing the angle of presentation – when you seemingly do the same thing but differently aesthetically and contextually.
8 – Caring Customer Service
You never know what customer is thinking when they are interacting with your brand.
It is ever changing.
However, there is one thing that positively affects and improves general perception of the name in any case – it is customer service.
You need to show that you care about your customers through little seamless things.
- Competent technical support ready to rumble 24/7;
- Easy to follow definitions and descriptions that provide customers with full scope of understanding of the product;
- Pleasant and engaging design scheme etc.
It should be noted that taking care of a customer must be natural, not showy and not overbearing.
Otherwise, it will make the customer suspicious and turn them away from your brand.
You need to be creative with the ways your service or product is presented to the customer.
9 – Segment-Specific Orientation
Another vital point in making effective brand differentiation strategy is precise and focused orientation on the specific segment of the market instead of attempting to appeal to every possible demographic thus spreading too thin and turning into “nothing in particular”.
Regarding branding, it is relatively easy to pull.
Design themes must circle related subjects.
The manner of phrasing and lexicon must be adapted to the segment-specific terms.
The other point is that segment-specific approach allows building intimacy between the company and the user.
You can lean on more specific things and speak directly without much manufactured buzzword-induced newspeak.
10 – Expanded Appeal
While you need to stay focused on the vital segment of the market, you also need to think about expanding and broadening the audience.
The reasons for that are simple: you cannot rely merely on those who are already interested.
You need to engage new users.
You need to be their guide on the subject.
While this is not effective without a built-in audience back-up, it is a practical solution in the long run.
This is made through careful and gradual engagement of other audience via exploratory materials and creative advertising, which shifts focus from the credentials of the segment to the things that are interesting to the projected unengaged audience.
11 – Innovate, Redefine, Excel
Bringing something new to the table is a must for any company that wants to distinguish itself from the competitors.
Not only is it rock solid guarantee of attracting positive attention and probably interest from the target audience and competitors, but also an excellent way to raise the stake in the market segment.
Companies are always playing catch-up with one another, whether it is a new technical solution or different design philosophy or merely another way of saying the same old thing.
Speaking of which, redefining the old concept is another viable option.
Based on thorough market research you can find another angle to present the old problem.
12 – Giving Something Back
The last but not least way of standing out from the rest is to offer something back.
With a substantial audience, a certain level of intimacy and trust from customers you can act differently.
You can share something else, something special with your audience.
Some gift or insight – some gesture of gratefulness for their trust and support.
It should be noted that this approach goes way beyond interacting with an audience to the community in general.
You can donate money to specific causes, or you can create a foundation for some higher good purposes.
In any way, it should show that your company is acting responsibly, and is ready to not only take something but also give something back.
Nature of the market is such that it embraces innovative ways of thinking but also appreciates clear connections with the past practices.
That is not just some old-timer grumblings – it serves as a sort of precaution signifier that company has a clue about what they are doing and not just goof around, grin and shook the shoes.
Because of that, one cannot just make up the whole thing from the ground up from out of nowhere.
There needs to be a balance between tried and tested methods and new solutions.
That is the key to effective brand differentiation.
Author Bio: Kim Hailey is a freelance mobile app designer and UX consultant residing in New York. She has worked with individuals and private businesses for over seven years now. Apart from that, she has a flair for writing as a blogger to share knowledge and learn new things.
Inkbot Design is a Creative Branding Agency that is passionate about effective Graphic Design, Brand Identity, Logos and Web Design.