Brand Differentiation: The Secret To Standing Out From The Crowd

In the world of marketing, everyone wants to be seen. Everyone wants to be heard. So, they do their best to stand out and talk to their target customers. And what does this lead to? Something that a customer perceives as marketing chatter. Too many ads hindering their experiences. Too many brands trying to pull them in different directions all at once. If you do not want your brand to get lost in this chaos, there’s one thing you need – brand differentiation. 

When there is a TikTok trend, every brand wants to hop on. When there is a trending meme, every brand wants to share it on social media. While hopping on trends is a great idea to strike up conversations with your customers, unless your brand has a signature visual style, a unique tone, these videos and memes get lost. Here, brand differentiation is what ensures that your brand manages to break free of the sameness that exists in various industries. 

Let’s first tackle the nitty gritty of brand differentiation. 

Why brand differentiation is the secret ingredient to success 

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As consumers, we have different criteria when it comes to choosing from brands that sell the same product, correct? These criteria are the brand differentiators that brands try to highlight. Identifying these factors and using them to promote your brand is what brand differentiation is all about.  

We’ll explain this with a simple example. Imagine this – you walk into a shopping street looking for a black T-shirt. You spot 5 different stores in front of you and all 5 have the same solid black tee in their store displays. How would you choose a store to shop from? 

In such a situation some might shop from a store that offers the cheapest price while some might choose a store that has hassle-free quick billing. Some others might shop from a store that also sells jeans to go with the T-shirt. Don’t you agree? When that’s the case with just one product and only 5 different options to compare, imagine shopping from a vastly crowded market! 

Summing up, brand differentiation is about giving customers the right reasons to shop from you. Differentiating your brand clearly also brings a few other benefits: 

  • The competition is always on the rise. As of 2023, there are over 334 million companies and 582 million entrepreneurs in the world. And some industries have reached their saturation levels. So, it takes a lot of effort to cut through the noise. 
  • Brand differentiation helps establish your brand’s authenticity. And you should know that nearly 88% of consumers choose authentic brands. 
  • By standing out and showing your brand’s authenticity, you win your customers’ trust. And trust influences nearly 81% of buying decisions

So, what are the brand differentiation strategies that you can use in order to leverage these benefits? Let’s find out. 

Brand differentiation – 6 strategies to stand out from the crowd 

To identify the right brand differentiation strategy there are two things to do: 

  • Analyze your competition – so you know where they are falling short and therefore identify the perfect gaps in the industry for your brand to fill. 
  • Analyze your target audience – so you know what kind of brand values and experiences are relevant to them. 

Customer reviews on your competitors and discussion forums in your niche are the best places to start your analysis of both your competitors and your target audience. With all that sorted, you can work on using a few of the below-mentioned strategies for effective brand differentiation. 

1. Focusing on niche audiences 

A broad overview of your target audience is enough to understand the market you fit in but that’s not enough to differentiate your brand. For example, when you say your company targets business owners, is it small business owners or large organizations? Niche down and your marketing approach feels more refined. 

For example, there are several businesses that offer marketing solutions and tools to organize various online marketing activities. In this crowded market, ConvertKit stands out by catering to the unique needs of Creators (authors, podcasters, musicians, and coaches). This narrowed-down focus is one of the brand differentiators that help ConvertKit rise above its competition. 

KIMP Tip: Okay, so you have narrowed your target audience but how do you let them know that your brand is the right fit for them? Use your marketing visuals to deliver the message. 

  • The copy in your ads should clearly speak to them and your visuals should instantly appeal to them. 
  • The actors featured in your ads depicting how to use your product or service should accurately represent your target customer persona. 
  • You should know the jargon your target audience understands. For example, talking about Retina Display in an ad would work well with tech-savvy folks but not with someone who does not stay up-to-date with gadget news. 
2. A pricing strategy that stands out 
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Using a pricing strategy for brand differentiation involves varying your price to offer better value or cost-savings to your customers. Whether you sell at a price higher or lower than your competitor depends on several factors. 

In some industries, premium pricing strategies work and in others, value-based pricing would be a better option. Analyze what works in your industry and with your customers and your pricing strategy becomes a unique brand differentiator. 

The success of Dollar Shave Club is a good example of how pricing strategy can be an intuitive way to stand out in a saturated industry. The brand aimed at cutting back on costs without compromising on quality by doing two things: 

  • Eliminating middlemen and delivering the razors directly to customers 
  • Letting go of unwanted shave tech and delivering a fuss-free design 

The no-nonsense idea that could help men save hundreds of dollars every year naturally became a hit! 

Here’s the viral video that launched Dollar Shave Club to success. The video itself conveys the idea of what sets the brand apart and justifies its pricing strategy, therefore connecting well with its audience. 

KIMP Tip: While pricing can be a great brand differentiator, it simply does not work in a few industries. 

For example, in some industries, the price difference between the cheapest and the most expensive variants of the same product is massive. Like the smartphone segment. But there, the features, the application, and other factors come to play. 

On the other hand, there are industries where it simply does not make sense to have a premium pricing strategy. Would someone be ready to pay hundreds of dollars extra for a “premium floor cleaner”? Not at all! Remember this difference when you work on your pricing strategy as the brand differentiator. 

3. Unique aspects of service delivery 

You can play with various aspects of your business’s service delivery model for brand differentiation. For example, if you think there are several clothing stores in your area, you could offer unique service differentiators like at-home fitting services or a clothing boutique catering to a made-to-order lineup. 

In the competitive fast-food industry, Subway differentiates itself by allowing customization. The “build-your-own” approach works like a charm, especially in the food industry. Because then there is no worry about not knowing what ingredients are in the dish you ordered or the possibility of an allergen or an ingredient you simply do not like. 

The transparency in the meal preparation process, the customization, and the use of fresh and healthy ingredients are a few things that worked in favor of the brand. 

4. Brand differentiation through a unique brand identity 

Brand identity design is definitely going to be different for various businesses in the industry right? So, how can you use this as a brand differentiator? By daring to bend the rules a little. Not clear? Let’s explain with an example.

Have you noticed that brand colors are often chosen based on the industry? For example, you see a lot of reds and yellows in the fast food industry. And in the jewelry business, it is all about sophistication. So you tend to see colors like white, black, gold, and silver. But there is one brand that decided to bend the rule and go with a chirpier color than the boring colors associated with sophistication. It went with a unique blue brand color and now it stands as a trendsetter in the jewelry industry.

Did you guess the brand already? Yes, we are talking about Tiffany & Co. Yes there are various other aspects like unique jewelry designs, dependable product quality, and craftsmanship that have helped the brand grow. But without a doubt, the brand’s signature blue box is a strong brand differentiator. If you catch someone recalling Tiffany & Co. as the brand with its little blue box, you know what we mean here! 

That’s how you use your branding designs and your core brand elements to differentiate yourself in a competitive market. 

But then how do you get your customers to remember your brand identity? Through consistent on-brand visuals incorporated in all your branding and marketing efforts. 

Need help creating these consistent visuals? Get KIMP

5. Put your brand values in the spotlight 

To explain the idea of using brand values for brand differentiation, we’ll give you the simplest example. Among all the people you meet, you become friends with someone who “vibes” with you or shares the same ideologies as you. Don’t you agree? Similarly, among all the brands that customers shop from, they stick to those that share their values. 

Reportedly, nearly 77% of consumers buy from brands whose values resonate with theirs. 

How do you use that to differentiate your brand? Consider your target customers’ specific beliefs, interests, and lifestyle choices. For example, there are many brands in the outdoor clothing category but Patagonia has a special place for itself. And this happened because of Patagonia’s brand values. 

The above image shows the Patagonia website. Not the typical website design you expect from a fashion brand correct? But the image as well as the header text immediately resonates with the eco-conscious folks. And that is the exact persona that Patagonia targets.

The brand is about outdoor clothing but created with environmental sustainability as the first priority. Therefore, the brand stands out among customers who are environmentally conscious. 

6. Consider the distribution channel 

Whether you are delivering a product or service, the distribution channel you use influences the overall experience for your customers. Because the distribution channel determines the ease of finding and buying the product a consumer likes and the time taken in getting this product they like. 

There was a time when the food industry was all about dining in but things changed ever since food delivery became a trend. Similarly, identify ways in which you can experiment with the distribution channel and see if you can choose a distribution strategy that eliminates delays and hassles for your customers. 

To understand this better, let’s look at a brand that revolutionized the mattress industry. The brand that challenged the hassles in the traditional mattress shopping process – Casper. 

Finding a comfortable mattress is a pain and that too when you have to walk from one store to another trying to find the perfect one for your home. Casper decided to change that and introduced its wide range of comfortable mattresses. But the best part was its innovative approach of shipping the mattress in a box directly to the consumer’s home. This removes the time and effort involved in shopping from a physical store while also cutting the cost incurred with the involvement of middlemen. 

Naturally, the idea clicked! 

Additionally, for the business to gain momentum, Casper used multiple advertising channels to promote the idea and thus managed to continuously expand its customer base. It also built a strong social media presence by creating niche-specific content on all things sleep. 

KIMP Tip: When you have the most brilliant idea for your business, you also need to have the most brilliant strategy to promote the idea and to let people know about it. Social media and other digital platforms go a long way in this. 

Need help creating your brand’s social media designs? Choose a KIMP subscription

Complement your brand differentiation strategies with stunning visuals from KIMP 

From all these examples you can see that brand differentiation requires visuals to support the efforts every step of the way. To create your brand identity, to help people understand your brand values, to tell them how your pricing works, or even to explain to them how to shop from you, visual storytelling is a great tool. 

So, leave the design part to the KIMP team while you focus on other brand differentiation aspects! 

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