Posts Tagged ‘brand differentiation’


Turning Pinocchio for Products’ Sakes

In Marketing Ethics,talks and lessons,Views and Reviews on April 26, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , ,

Photo borrowed from Daniel Plues' site.

Seth Godin in his intriguingly titled book, All Marketers Are Liars, said that, “Authenticity is the best marketing of all”. It’s like being yourself. When your intrinsic qualities align with your manifested self, you are happy and carefree. Otherwise, when you try to hide or divert people’s attention away from an aspect of yours, you appear contrived or aloof.

As a brand or product manager, you know you have a great product when upon making your briefing material, your imagination has already produced even a brand spokesperson’s dialogue. That’s because you are excited to bring the good news to people in creative ways across several contact points. There is something authentic and believable in your brand and you know that it will hit home once out in the market.

Alas, this does not happen all the time. Sometimes there are products that just need to exist to disrupt the market or further dominate the category by creating haphazard ammunition or “just-in-case” brands to counteract possible entry of an international player. But there are also products that are not necessarily original or remarkable but need to be launched fantastically thanks to advertising. This is the time when the team has to lie through exaggeration, omission or deception.

Indeed it is. However, innovations don’t pop out like mushrooms per square foot of a category. Usually, there is a first player that defines the market. When proven to be profitable, others follow with “me too” products. In their most basic forms, these new entrants have marginal or no difference from the first player. So they resort to the guys who can make products seem distinct through branding.

Image borrowed from MASHABLE.

It is a challenge to differentiate especially when there is NOTHING intrinsically different about the product. The task of the creative team is to let the new brand play in the market and bite off the pie. Given this pressure, creative lies may emerge just to come up with a selling proposition.

It’s the Pinocchio Syndrome and the length of how the nose goes indicates how much lies have been told to sell a product. It can be an expensive undertaking to communicate a lie to consumers. They eventually find out anyway. No matter how much emotion an ad has evoked in a consumer when a product fails to deliver, consumer trust is broken upon usage. Usage is the moment of truth and that truth is the venue for the product to reveal its authentic form to the consumer without the frills of emotional propositions or catchy communication points. #


(C) COPYRIGHT Brands & Pitches 2012



The Generic Problem of Brand Differentiation

In Strategy on March 19, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , ,

These days, there aren’t just a clutter of products but also heaps of promises that any consumer would skip through in ads, in supermarkets, or even in an activation.

At the end of the day, when a brand fails to distinguish itself from others, they’re all the same products in the eyes of the consumer. “Same banana”, they say. When there are too many players in the market especially in the consumer goods industry, brands may resort to price wars, value packaging, or just outspend each other to get higher shares of voice. Anything, to get the attention of the consumer. There is indeed a narrow line among hyper-similar products that often resort to generic promises or brand tactics.

Of course, we do not stop at mediocrity and just settle on outvoicing competitors. Somehow, there is a constant search for a key differentiator that speaks for itself and is organically translatable to creative strategies and tactical executions.

Based on my experiences and observations, key propositions can be derived from different sources:

1. It can be a product given that has never been highlighted before. An example is Omega-3 fatty acids claimed by a canned tuna brand. Fish is already rich in Omega-3, a nutrient that reduces risk of heart disease. Yet if a brand is the first to highlight such nutrient, the benefits are reaped by it. Why highlight it just now? It’s because health is highly relevant among consumers nowadays. Brand differentiation evolves through time and consumer needs at that time. 

2. Innovation can create product features that the brand can own first in the market or the brand can own solely. Constant innovation is a must especially for growth companies. Innovation is not juts triggered by streamlining and cost-efficiency goals but also by consumer insight. Product recipes or formulations may add benefits that once communicated, ring directly back to consumer demand. For example, the reduction or elimination of preservatives and/or incorporation of nutrients of a processed food product can get the attention of skeptic mothers who want their kids to eat healthy. If a particular brand owns it first, then it alters the entire processed foods category. And if its the only brand that can make such claim (because the innovation is patented or can’t be replicated), then it has an advantage over the others.

3. A differentiator can be derived from emotional affinities and social elements.  I think products such as shampoos, soaps, and laundry soaps have tapped into consumer desires. They have gone beyond hygienic needs. Vanity, care, seduction, every possible sweet spot has been explored. Here’s a classic: non-smear lipstick. Revlon out campaigned Hazel Bishop’s non-smear long-lasting lipstick when it launched the Fire & Ice campaign. The marketing strategy appealed to the naughty & nice sides of women. Being first in innovation is big news but it may not be big enough for long. The proposition must be sustainable and should not rest on a product feature that will possibly become obsolete.

There are certainly different thought processes in arriving at a great proposition. The problem, however, is not having information but having too much of it. The Heath Brothers, authors of SWITCH, remind us on the dangers of information that are true but useless.

It is not easy but one indicator that all parties have temporarily given up on a brand is when they float among tactical moves for quite some time.