7 Things Your Brand Has That the Competition Doesn't 

What makes your brand so special?  If you are like a lot of brands, you will answer with one (or more) of the nine most common differentiators:

  • Customer service

  • Innovation

  • Value

  • Expertise

  • People

  • Size

  • Effectiveness

  • Efficiency

  • Patented product/solution/process
     

That’s the problem. Everybody wants to claim the same differentiators. How many of your competitors are claiming the exact same ones you are?  Just look at their websites. If you are claiming the same ones, that’s no differentiator, unless you really are the biggest or the best.

Even if you are the biggest or the best in one or more of those nine categories, your brand still might struggle. The reason is your customers want something MORE PERSONAL than effectiveness.  They are starving for an emotional bond with you that they can believe in and trust.  Differentiators are about you, not the customer, and successful brands flip this. They make their uniqueness about the customer, not them.

 

Your customers are actively looking for what only your brand can deliver. At the same time, they DON’T want to be sold – or forced through your funnel, or stalked through LinkedIn invitations. They want to be seen, known, heard and, most of all, they want to matter to you. They want to connect with you.  In fact, they want to identify with you, and see themselves in you.

Beyond brand awareness…beyond purchase…beyond loyalty…there’s this thing we call “brand affinity.” It’s elusive, and can be difficult to create if you don’t understand the latent affinity you already have. Brand affinity (or at least the potential for it) is baked into every brand in one of seven ways. When you understand your unique affinity, and leverage it, it is like marketing pixie dust, immunizing you against the competition and the market conditions. Seriously.

Although this is true, most brands slog it out as a commodity. If you find yourself saying one or more of these catch phrases, you are in commodity purgatory:

  • It’s a tough market.

  • We just can’t seem to break through the noise.

  • We need to get to market faster.

  • Our training/hiring/on-boarding/morale/retention/sales/ production is not delivering results up to par.
     

These phrases blame outside forces. The competition. The customers. The market. The economy. What they clearly describe is the experience of commoditization. And the answer is Brand Affinity – which emanates from a clear relationship to your values and the purpose of your brand. When you are clear on these foundational ideas, you inspire a deeper and more meaningful relationship with your customers.

Your answer isn’t more tactics, as much as we love them.

We can all agree that tactics are vitally important. But they are growing in complexity, volume and frequency at unprecedented rates. It can be overwhelming to keep pace with, if it is even possible at all. And your brand’s tactics aren’t working – it likely isn’t the tactics that are broken.

Research done by an excellent agency, MBLM,  has shown that brands with strong brand affinity (they refer to it as “brand intimacy”) have:

  • Higher Revenue

  • Greater Growth

  • Longer Lifespan

While brands without Brand Affinity are:

  • A Commodity

  • Subject to Conditions

  • Volatile
     

Affinity with a brand is self-identification with the brand – in other words – the customer sees themself and the brand as integrally connected.  They don’t just drink Starbucks coffee. They refer to themselves as a “Starbucks drinker.” Brands who build affinity create a strong difference in one of seven key factors that are not that all-to-familiar list of “innovation” “expertise” “value” – but create an emotional bond that is far stronger. One that is unstoppable.

An important note here – all brands have some percentage of all seven factors. It is just that some have closer to 100% of 1 or 2 factors, and closer to 10 or 20% of others. Once you understand which factor best aligns with your brand, your purpose, your values and your product or service experience, then you can begin to amplify how you promote it.

​​

Brand Affinity Wheel copy.png

Here are the seven Brand Affinity factors, and their descriptions. See where you think you rank, and download your assessment to share with your team: 

1. Nurture
These brands are centered around moments of pampering and gratification

2. Aspire
These brands project an image of perfection, elevation or value that resonates deeply.

3. Exceed
These brands deliver not only beyond expectations, with superior service, quality, and effectiveness, they also deliver above the levels of their competitors

4. Remember
Brands that create a resonance with warm, positive memories or experiences

5. Elevate
Brands confer improvement to the customer through their use, so they feel smarter, more capable, more connected

6. Practice
Brand becomes an integral part of daily actions or habits

7. Serve
Brand is actively making the world a better place.

No competitor can be like you when it comes to Brand Affinity. To understand more about your own Brand Affinity, how to find it, and what to do to leverage it, email us at Hello@InsideOutSmart.com.

nathan-dumlao-nBJHO6wmRWw-unsplash.jpg