What Does Differentiation Mean For Brands In 2019?

Let’s talk about the “d-word” in branding: DIFFERENTIATION.


It’s a common term used in brand and marketing circles and on the surface most in-tune businesses understand that differentiation is needed to stand out from the competition. But today, differentiation is a bit more distinct than perhaps in years past.

All too often we see brands build differentiation on price, features, products, and services. For brands who are doing this, please take note: these are all easily replicable by the competition. Even if a brand starts out being the only one to offer a specific service or price point, chances are other brands will follow suit very quickly. Differentiating on these points quickly becomes a race to the bottom and will inevitably decrease a brand’s value and bottom line over time.

Brands without "meaning" will behave like commodities and be limited to commodity-like pricing, where price is determined not by the owner of the brand, but by every other producer in the category. - Young & Rubicam Inc.

What then should differentiation look like for brands in 2019 and beyond? Creating greater meaning for customers is one place to start. According to Mitch Duckler, author of The Indispensable Brand, there are five main areas where brands can excel at differentiation. Spoiler alert: they don’t have anything to do with price, products, services, or features, and everything to do with relationships, meaning, and connection:

  1. Identify a compelling brand positioning and filter it through every element of the brand strategy.

  2. Create brand experiences that tie to the brand positioning and promise.

  3. Focus on personalizing the brand for customers.

  4. Build meaningful relationships with customers and brand partners.

  5. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of growth for the brand.

Successful brands aren’t built overnight. They are built slowly, over time, and with carefully implemented strategies along the way. Differentiation is one big part of building a successful brand. When a brand succeeds at differentiation, it increases revenue and profit — this is the case with any brand regardless of industry, geographic location, or age of the brand. So, start slowly and with thoughtful intention and let your brand’s differentiation shine!

Disclaimer: This post was heavily influenced by Mitch Duckler’s The Indispensible Brand, which was quickly become one of our favourite books and one we highly recommend adding to your summer reading list.

If you’re interested in learning more about brand building, get in touch at info@henrykbrandingco.com.