Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. BSI readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers everywhere. Today we hear from Kari, a brand marketer in Toronto, Canada who asks this about brand differentiation.
“Have you ever encountered a product in which meaningful branding is not possible? For example, plastic buttons. Their cost and perceived value is so minimal that building any level of consumer loyalty is out of the question. Can a product like this even be branded?”
Kari, thanks for asking. At The Blake Project, our strongly held opinion is that anything can be branded. Think about vodka, a relatively colorless, odorless liquid. We imagine that people who were never exposed to vodka brands might think that vodka could not be branded, but we all know that there are numerous brands of vodka, some of which command quite a price premium. The same is true of bananas, chicken and water. If these items can be branded, anything can. Whenever a potential client tells us that their company is in a commodity industry, we tell them that they are just not thinking about the product category or their product/service offering properly.
Any product or service can be turned into a brand even in the most price-sensitive categories in which all manufacturers’ products seem to be the same. It just becomes a matter of carefully transforming that product or service into a brand through a brand development process based upon extensive customer research that results in the creation of an emotional, distinctive and connective advantage.
Back to the vodka example, research shows that on average 50% of purchase decisions are based on emotion. In the vodka category this number reaches up to 90%. This is why Grey Goose sells for a much higher price premium than Smirnoff, yet when it is removed from its emotionally provocative bottle, consumers pick Smirnoff over Grey Goose in 9 out of 10 taste tests. Irrational? Maybe. Emotional? Definitely. Encoding unique value in the mind requires building the brand on meaning, meaning of course is the center of value and the source of emotional connection.
I encourage you to explore these 61 ways you can create meaningful differentiation for your brand.
We hope this has been helpful Kari.
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Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education