The essence of your brand is what makes your brand or service offering hard to copy.
In order to create the essence of your brand, I like to have my clients focus less of competitive differentiation (which in most cases can be mere feature/benefits) and instead focus more on what we call meaningful difference/differentiation. Meaningful differentiation is (in lack of a better term) “uncopiable” and when a competitor does copy it, they only strengthen your position in the marketplace.
In order to create/discover your meaningful difference, you need to figure out your brand’s purpose. Reason for being/why it exists.
To illustrate how you go about creating your meaningful differentiation, I’ll give an example of our branding agency.
As shown in the figure above, you can see our (1) Purpose (2) Focus (3) Difference. We’ve positioned ourselves as “Brand Elevators” and we apply this in everything that we think, say or do.
It’s all about “Elevating”
Therefore, we set our meaningful difference to be “The Elevator Principles“, they are 10 and just like above, we apply them in everything we think, say or do.
Here are the 10 principles, from it you can see how as a branding agency, this can be applied into “elevating” any brand that we work with. Also, if a competitor tried to claim this difference, they’d only be strengthening our position.
Here they are;
1. Be easy to use
Elevators are built with ease of use at the forefront. Get in, press button for your floor, wait for “ding”, done! Brands should function the same way. Over-complicating kills most brands.
2. Let us do the heavy lifting for you
Elevators do the heavy lifting, all you have to do is just be in them and they’ll take you up/down hundreds of floors and you won’t break a sweat. We aim to do the same for our clients, their brand/product/service should do the same for their audience.
3. Be efficient
Elevators are extremely efficient. By using counterweights to offset the weight they’re carrying, they are able to use very little electrical energy. As a brand, find ways to minimize waste as much as possible, it’s one sure way to grow your profit margins.
4. Know your limits
Each elevator has a “max weight limit”, brands should know theirs too. In regards to who your audience is, what your product/service is and what market(s) to compete in. Focus. When you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to no one.
5. Always function as expected- meet expectations
Sure, every once in a while an elevator will get “stuck” but most of the time, press up and it will go up, down and it will go down. A brand should always function as expected- delivering on its promise. Positive interactions build a brand, while negative ones kill it.
6. Be reliable/dependable
If we didn’t think elevators were reliable enough to take us up/down hundreds (or even 10) floors, we simply wouldn’t use them. If your audience doesn’t think you brand/product/service can get them from A to B, chances are they won’t consider you. The only way to achieve dependability/reliability is by following #5 above.
7. Engage your audience through interaction
Elevators require you to do something in order to get something- however small this is, it’s important. Press a button, I’ll take you to the floor you want to go to. Brands should be designed the same way. Some user involvement is important- it’s a psychological thing.
We’ve come a long way since the first elevator. It’s important to constantly improve your brand in order to stay relevant. Now more than ever.
9. Revolutionize multiple industries
The invent of elevators revolutionized many industries e.g. Construction Industry (of skyscrapers) Architectural Industry (builders of these skyscrapers) Steel, Railway etc. Your brand should aim to shake not only the industry it’s competing in, but others as well.
10. Always have a “Plan B”
Did you know that elevators would still be able to carry it’s maximum weight even if all the cords broke and only one was left? Now you do. Did you also know that even if all the cords broke, there’s a fail-safe mechanism that we’ll lock the elevator in place preventing it from plunging? Don’t believe what those movies show you
Your brand should always have a Plan B (up to Z- why not).
Ok, enough lessons about elevators, I hope this helps in some way