Blog : Brand Development

How to Create a Meaningful Differentiation for your Brand

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.

8. Evolve/Improve

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 :)

The 3 C’s of Building a Strong Brand

The 3 C’s of Building a Strong Brand

With clutter in current marketplace, building a strong brand is more crucial than ever. The 3 C’s of building a strong brand simplify the sometimes daunting brand development process. They are the basic building blocks of any strong brand that exists.

One thing is certain: A brand has to be nurtured- and it takes (a long) time to successfully build any brand.

In addition to time, it takes thought and consistent application. But it does not have to take big budgets. It just requires you to embrace a mindset that requires both discipline and passion. It’s about caring for the bigger picture and the smaller details- all at the same time.

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”stancebranding” suffix=”#STANCEBranding”]When building your brand, adhere to the 3 Cs and your results will make you proud.[/inlinetweet]


A brand has been described as “everything you say and everything you do.” Brands are built on trust. Trust is gained by delivering on each promise you make. A credible brand will always align the way it behaves with the way it is portrayed (or the promises it makes). This close connection will ensure that your customer’s instinctive reaction is one of trust and belief in your brand not one of doubt and uncertainty.


A strong brand is based on clearly defined values, that are important to your customers and that differentiate you from your competitors. Take a (meaningful) stance. Do this by understanding, establishing and communicating what you stand for. A clear understanding of your values throughout your business will ensure that they are communicated clearly through “everything you say and everything you do.” When you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.


The value of a brand comes through recognition and recognition comes from consistent application of every visible manifestation of your brand, at every ‘touch point’ that your customers experience your brand. Create brand guidelines, not only for your visuals, but also for your values, systems, processes and everything in between. Ensure every employee clearly understands & applies these guidelines- consistently.

 When all is said and done, strive to build a meaningful brand.

Why have a Brand with Purpose

Why have a Brand with Purpose

Why have a Brand With Purpose?

Consumers and marketers have conflicting ideas about brand purpose: They disagree on where brands should concentrate their efforts, and on which people are most receptive. As reported on a new research from the World Federation of Advertisers.

Only 40% of marketers thought that listening to and acting on customer needs was important to brand purpose, but in a parallel study by PR Agency Edelman, consumers chose “Listens to customer needs and feedback” as the number one attribute that builds brand trust.

The traditional function of brand positioning has come to a standstill. In other words, it is more rewarding to find your brand purpose and promote it, rather that promoting a competitive edge. One of the Key speakers at the IMC Conference, Jonty Fisher explains why.

“Having a clear and well established purpose for your business will help create much more relevance with consumers by focusing on what is a brand’s real motivation: What is the WHY underneath the HOW and WHAT that you do, hence seamlessly connect with the consumers on a belief and purpose level; as opposed to something that is purely based on a functional benefit that might not necessarily move them emotively. As we know consumer make decisions based on emotive benefits and post rationalize decisions based on the functional benefits that the brand holds. In summary, your functional benefits are your permission to play but your emotive or purpose is your way to win in modern market.”


This is the way forward from the standstill in modern market that will enable marketers to reach their intended consumers. This is what Stance Branding Agency thrives to provide all its clients on a daily basis.


What is Purpose?

Purpose is the deepest expression of a brand, drawing on its essence to determine its path in the world. It captures the relationship between corporation and community, touching on the financial, social, and environmental arenas. Today, people think of companies as corporate citizens. They expect companies to put their skills and resources to work for the common good, and they’re ready to reward those that do.

In China, 80% of consumers say they are willing to pay a premium for a product that supports good causes, compared with just 28% in the U.K. and 39% in the U.S. In India, it’s 71%, while 55% of Brazilians and Malaysians are prepared to pay more.




What is Brand Purpose?

Brand purpose is a natural outgrowth of the values embedded in your corporate culture. Call it corporate citizenship or corporate social responsibility; companies that have integrated this approach into their business strategy are seeing the profound benefits of taking an active role in changing the world. Social good and business good are deeply entwined in today’s corporate model.

The WFA surveyed 828 brand marketers from 33 countries, representing more than 400 companies and together accounting for $170 billion in global marketing spend, via email. The Edelman consumer study, which surveyed 8,000 consumers in 16 markets, makes it clear that brand purpose in 2014 is more about customer relationship management than corporate social responsibility.

Mr Loerke added, “It becomes clear that purpose isn’t necessarily about saving the planet. It doesn’t have to be worthy per se; it can be about taking small and meaningful actions.”

Marketers may be convinced that having purpose is crucial: 88% agreed that it is increasingly important to building brands. That is why huge companies are changing their marketing strategies with marketing campaigns to ensure they have a meaningful brand that appeals to the public in an deeper, emotional level. Showing that they are part of consumers’ lives and not just pushing for their products and services blindly, because the consumers are the market kings thus dictating the markets share.


What drives your Brand?

Purpose driven branding, while not new, has taken on new significance in this era of anxious consumers; not to mention anxious employees. A company that looks at its brand and asks not simply what promise does it make, but what purpose does it serve, to its customers and its shareholders, and brings this purpose to life through every customer experience will be the company most likely to beat its competition.

The consumers have spoken, and if any marketer wants not only to remain in the modern market but also remain relevant and profitable; they have to embrace this ideology. That’s why here at STANCE we help you answer the question “What value do I provide?” in a positive way, hence at the end of the day both your brand and your audience benefit.

“In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.” ― Howard Schultz


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Brands Realize Being Meaningful is the New Black | Whirlpool Case Study

Brands Realize Being Meaningful is the New Black | Whirlpool Case Study

Whether you agree or disagree, I think it’s pretty obvious that most brands have realized that being meaningful is no longer an option. We have always know that customer is king, so how do you talk to the king? Actually, you will be surprised to find out that it is quite simple. You achieve that by speaking in a language that the king understands.

Right now, consumers want brands that carry a deeper meaning beyond their core product or service offering. They want brands that support the causes they believe in, they want meaningful brands.


A study conducted by Havas Media (who by the way coined the phrase “Meaningful Brands”) revealed some shocking statistics…

Most people worldwide would not care if more than 73% of brands disappeared tomorrow.

That’s insane!

Think about all the money spent globally on marketing, communication and public relations. Then think that for more than 73% of the companies who are spending it, their brands wouldn’t be missed if they disappeared entirely.

Only 20% of brands worldwide make a significant, positive effect on people’s well-being.

 With these shocking statistics, it’s no surprise that brands are doing their best to adapt or die. Read industry news and you will see all sorts of desperate efforts to be meaningful. From publicizing how your company supports the local cancer awareness foundation, to sponsoring kids from developing nations, to others rethinking their entire approach to Marketing via full-blown campaigns.

Major brands are adapting

A few days ago, I came across such a campaign by the veteran brand Whirlpool. The mega corporation markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht  and other major brand names. So when they make such a move, you know it is something worth looking into.

While I might sound angered by these attempts of what others would call “fake” or “rigged” ways to buy into what your customers (kings) want, I personally think that any attempt whether forced or genuine is a move towards the right direction. This specific 103-year old brand is making steps towards the right direction and adapting to change.

PROOF: The Whirlpool Case Study


The above is the headline in a press release for Whirlpool’s new campaign “Every day, care™”. The veteran brand aims to transform cold machine mentality into acts of love. Emotional branding is a powerful thing, our friends at Emotive Brand know this best.

Watching videos from this campaign and monitoring Whirlpool’s social media interaction, you can tell they are making a shift to be a meaningful brand.

Whirlpool has shifted from trying to sell features and benefits to reminding people that each act performed with one of their appliances is an act of caring. This in itself is a meaningful stance. By taking this position and positioning their brand as one that promotes care, people can relate to them at a deeper level. I was surprised the other day as I strolled around my local Lowe’s store Whirlpool appliances caught my eye, even though I had never paid attention to the brand much prior to this. As I mentioned earlier, judging from their social media, engagement, the brand is making waves and people are responding positively.

everyday-care campaign whirlpool

Still, I find it fascinating that brands are just now seeing the need to be meaningful.

So, how does your brand take a meaningful stance and position itself as a meaningful brand? Is it possible? Is it too late? Let’s take a look at how we did it. Hopefully this will shed some light into how you can tap into your own unique purpose

STANCE: The Meaningful Branding Agency

When I founded STANCE, I didn’t look at industry trends, or what’s “hot” in the market right now. I looked within and asked myself one questions: “What kind of company will I look back at the end of my life and be proud to have built?”, the answer- a company that truly positively impacted people’s lives. Later came to realized they had a term for it, “meaningful brand”, hence the meaningful branding agency was born.

This is not just something we say to be cool, we truly believe that great brands stand for something and that brands that commit to a meaningful STANCE—and those who engage with them—win.

That is why our purpose is to be advocates for all meaningful brands. We envision a world where brands genuinely exist to positively impact the lives of those they serve. This is reflected on our purpose which is to elevate meaningful brands so they can elevate the lives of those they serve.


A Reflection on your brand…

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”#MeaningfulBrands”]How is your brand impacting the lives of those you serve? [/inlinetweet]Have you taken a meaningful stance? What kind of legacy will you leave for your children and grandchildren? Is your brand meaningful? Only you can answer those questions honestly.

Branding is all about Consistency

Branding is all about Consistency

Maintaining brand consistency is extremely important for any business, as it’s the key to successful branding. To avoid confusing your consumers you must deliver a consistent message across all advertising channels. You must stay relevant and bring fresh, new ideas to your campaigns while ensuring that everything you do remains consistent with your brand message if you are to achieve successful branding over time.

The first way to maintain brand consistency is to keep your visuals consistent. Whether it’s on newsletters or on billboards, the images and colors you use across your campaigns should correspond with one another. If your company has a friendly, youthful look in your ads, don’t give your emails a stuffy, formal aesthetic and vice-versa. Paying attention to little details like these will greatly improve your brand consistency over the long run.


The second thing is establishing your voice. Your voice is the personality that you use to communicate with your customers. Your company could be geeky and smart, quaint and old-fashioned or elegant and refined. Whatever the persona, make sure to be consistent across all of your marketing efforts. This will ensure your customers remember you much better.

Brand consistency is an absolute necessity in this day and age where marketing stretches across so many different mediums. Standardizing your brand will help you build relationships and maintain your customers’ trust over time. It’s been proven that customers are more likely to choose the brands they are more familiar with; and the best way to achieve that familiarity is to have clearly identifiable images and messaging in your communications so that there is no confusion about who your company is and what you do.

Rebrand -You Need To Let Go

Rebrand -You Need To Let Go

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”amd5555″ suffix=”#rebrandbreakup”]Going through a rebrand can be difficult. Like a break up. We didn’t necessarily end badly, but we still can’t be together. We need to let go.[/inlinetweet]

Let go of the negativity, let go of the bad memories, but still hold on to what makes you, well you. Because you’re cool! You just had someone else who made you seem less cool-and that sucks.


Rebranding is exactly the same. Your brand is cool. You already have traffic to your business, a well developed customer base, but you’re still lacking IT. You’re not where you want to be with your business, just like after a break up, you’re not where you want to be in life.

break up

So follow me through a post-breakup journey!

After a break up,

you probably change your look- a new haircut, new hair color, change outfit styles (btw, those shoes totally rock). How about a logo redesign for your business? Lets freshen up those colors, cleaner edges, a newer font! Because he was so last season…

After a break up,

you want to reconnect with your friends and the people you lost touch with when they were your everything. How about a customer survey or a social media campaign? Get to know your customers. Find out what they love about you, find out what they think you need to change (aside from drowning in your post breakup tears), and find out where they see you going. Their information is super valuable and FREE. They love you! They’ll do anything to see you succeed! Keep them around and use them to your advantage. It’s a win for you to have their input. It’s a win for them to see you flourish.

After a break up,

you want to be single. Single means you’re meeting new people, trying new things, and trying to find yourself again. Perfect! Find new customers, trying something fresh and hip-go with the times, but don’t lose that edge that made you different from everyone else. During the peak of love, we become comfortable, like our partners, satisfied. Single means we have a new lust for life! We become addicted to what the world is doing, and we want to become a part of it. Rebrand yourself! Rebrand your brand!

The hardest part after a break up is seeing things that remind you of that person wherever you go. “Oh, that’s where we shared our first milkshake together. That bench is where we had our first kiss. That new job is where he found his new girlfriend!”  <–that was a joke…

Anyway! It is hard, but nothing good is easy. We must strip ourselves of anything that is them, without losing ourselves, our core. Don’t go back! Doesn’t matter how many times they text you saying they miss you, or show up at your window with a boom box playing 80s classic rock. Doesn’t matter! You’re better than that! You’re on your way to doing great things.

I don't care how cute he is or if it completely melts your heart!
I don’t care how cute he is or if it completely melts your heart!


A rebrand is just the beginning.


Honda Summer Cheerance Campaign

Honda Summer Cheerance Campaign

Honda has really throttled their summer social media marketing campaign on overdrive. Teaming up with RPA agency, the brand found a way to get attention for its summer clearance event and it created a buzz both in the online and offline. Remember when car dealers used to go on T.V. and hang banners and flags outside their dealerships that screamed, “Sale! Sale! Sale!”? Well think of this as that, but online.

2 3 4 5

They’ve also created 62 short little videos with the goal of spreading cheer and happiness.

The campaign primarily focuses on Twitter, while also using Facebook and YouTube. The interesting part is how Cheerance is also spreading joy and happiness in the real world. As the brand will place piñatas at random locations and bury treasures on the beach for people to find them via the Cheerance Detector.

In addition to all this, the brand hooked up with YouTuber Andrew Hales to create a video entitled, “Dancing With People.” In it, Hales dances with random strangers he meets “to help spread cheer for the Honda Summer Cheerance event.”

If all that wasn’t enough, the brand also created a Pandora Summer Cheerance Station to which people could subscribe. This channel features music as well as 60-second comedy bits from comedian Steve Simeone.

All and all, it’s clear that this massive campaign was carefully thought out and planned, not just utilizing one medium but many, maximizing the engagement with people. It’s very impressive to see all this work done just to promote a clearance sale, something that in itself drives traffic (pun intended).

The Original Pocket Books

The Original Pocket Books

L&PM is the top publisher of pocket books in Brazil. Enlisting the help of FreeSurf and DM9Rio advertising agency, they managed to create an exclusive jean collection with real stories, poems and tales written by famous authors.


“great stories can fit in your pocket”






This whole campaign really served well to strengthen the brand in the public eye. Showing the companies message about the importance and beauty of stories, while providing an awesome jean collection, something people already needed. The whole idea was to communicate the convenience of the pocket book format as opposed to regular books, and they succeeded.


Now of course the video was created by the ad agency responsible for the campaign, so their is a bit of a bias on just how awesome it was, and the attributed 13% sales is definitely sketchy especially coming from a company that’s essentially advertising themselves and just how awesome they are for being involved.


Although the campaign was great and definitely did play a part in building brand strength and awareness, my main critique is how the whole thing didn’t strongly tie back to the L&PM brand. No where in the “The Original Pocketbook” campaign was L&PM really pronounced as a brand responsible for the jeans. Sure it was on the pockets, but it was under to the Original pocketbooks logo, making it seem like it was a separate company that partnered with The Original Pocketbook. Maybe this was on purpose as the design style was also vastly different than anything on L&PM’s website, regardless, I feel more attention should have been paid to tying back to the brand it was promoting.


Watch The Video

Case Study Airbnb’s Rebrand

Case Study Airbnb’s Rebrand

Airbnb’s Rebrand

Yes, we know were a bit late on this one, seeing as it was front page news a week or two ago.  It all started as part of a re-branding campaign that refreshed the website, Airbnb also introduced a new logo, which they christened the Bêlo.




Often called, “a community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world”. The company has positioned itself to be a sort of community that links people from 190 countries and 34,000 cities, all around the world. A sort of hub for all of those who share the same values and wishes when it comes to their vision of seeing the world.




This huge brand redesign was presented by DesignStudio, and at first things were going smoothly, great even. Design blogs, like behance or abduzeedo were praising the innovative and simple re-design, often quoting how  much of an improvement it was over the old logo. BrandMagazine even posted an article on how great it was, without so much as a hint of trouble.


Then after a short time, people started to see other things in the Belo. To quote a Forbes article “To Oliver Wainwright at The Guardian, Meg Wagner at the New York Daily News, Alissa Walker at Gizmodo and scores of folks on Twitter, it looked like a body part, though there’s some debate as to which part.” The Social media platform Tumblr has even joined the “roast” finding surprising new uses for the Belo. The new logo’s gone viral in a close likeness to the McDonalds Happy social media storm.


Airbnb is not taking it on the chin however, they are fighting back. It’s obvious that the company invested a lot of money on the rebrand as well as a good deal of emotional effort. Crafting a new personality for your brand is not an easy endeavor. The Mail Online quotes Airbnb CTO Nathan Blecharczyk as saying,

“It’s just like: Go ahead, laugh all you want, guys. We wouldn’t want to design a logo that caters to the lowest common denominator.”


Social media scandals have a tendency blow up and then blow over: it’s just the way it works. The real question is whether the flop uncovers a real problem with the design. Will it cost you money with average consumers? Will ordinary people be distracted every time they look at your logo? Pepsico recalled the Tropicana packaging not because it was embarrassing the brand but because it was ineffective. That’s what matters.


Regardless, Airbnb’s CTO made a mistake in arguing with the masses, the company needs to show that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Too many startups act as though they’re curing cancer. They’re not. And the average consumer reacts negatively to brands that show themselves that way.


It’s still a bit early to definitely know what the future holds for Airbnb.

Will they change their logo?

Will they take advantage of all the media coverage?

Will they start developing a line of feminine products?









Just to be clear, Airbnb


Why “July Fourth” is a Strong Brand

Why “July Fourth” is a Strong Brand

Branding Lessons You Can Learn from “Fourth of July” (The Brand)

As I write this, millions of Americans are enjoying a day off as part of the July 4th celebration tradition that has existed for over two centuries. It has now been 238 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83).

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”#IndependenceDay”]Fun Fact: The initial date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress was July 2, 1776.[/inlinetweet]

The next day, John Adams remarked in a letter to his wife Abigail: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

Beyond the parades, concerts, casual family gatherings, barbecues & fireworks, today I invite you to take a step back and view July 4th from a new angle- to view it as the strong brand it is.


Characteristics of a Strong Brand


Clear Purpose

Every strong brand has a purpose- a reason for being (beyond making money). Brands that are purpose-driven that is clearly articulated and communicated to it’s audience helps elevate the brand by building a strong emotional connection with the audience that identify with the purpose.

July 4th’s purpose is to remind Americans about the day they got their independence. It marks a significant day the US nation declared its independence from the British Monarchy in 1776.


What it stands for

Great brands stand for something. When  a brand is clear on what it stands for based on it’s purpose, it makes it very easy for the target audience to connect with it.

As a brand, July 4th stands for freedom, independence and a brighter future. This is very clear and it’s reinforced year after year with each holiday celebration.


Name & Nicknames

Strong brands have a clear, unique and distinct name. Naming is very important in brand building because it provides a point of reference and identification. Names provide associations and carry meanings in the minds of the consumer.

Furthermore, most brands just like people have nicknames; e.g. McDonald’s is Mickey D’s, Coca Cola is “Coke”, Federal Express is “FedEx”, Chevrolet is “Chevy”.

In the same way, Independence Day is a clear name that communicates what the day stands for. Other nicknames used to refer the same are “July 4th”, and “Fourth of July”.



Strong brands need traditions. Victoria Secret & Macy’s have both been phenomenal at this with VS All Access fashion show & Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade respectively.

Some of the traditions practiced on Independence day include; family getting together, time off from work (most jobs) and of course fireworks!


Serve a Specific Target Audience

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”#branding”]To build a strong brand, you need to identify who the brand is meant to serve.[/inlinetweet] This enables you to learn everything about your target audience and tailor your message to appeal to them.

Similarly, Independence Day celebrations are geared towards the “American citizens market”

As you can see, the above characteristics show how strong of a brand the Independence Day Holiday really is. When you review your brand, does it have the characteristics outlined above? If so, what are ways you can implement them?


Funny Video

Lastly, in the light of the holiday, here is a video to make your day. Enjoy :)