Overcoming Common Brand Problems – 21

Common Brand Problem Number 21: Trying to own cost-of-entry benefits—and not owning any differentiating benefits...

One-by-one we are identifying the 40 Most Common Brand Problems and sharing our remedy for each. Has number 21 appeared on your brand management radar?

Common Brand Problem Number 21: Trying to own cost-of-entry benefits—and not owning any differentiating benefits

Analysis: This is similar to the previous problem. It is not sufficient to claim leadership of a benefit that consumers expect of all brands in the category.

Key Point: An airline can’t win in the marketplace by trying to own “safety”—it’s a given. An airline might win by exclusively guaranteeing on-time departures and arrivals (if that were possible) or by offering first class service throughout the plane (Midwest Express).  Interestingly enough, in Russia, Aeroflot is the only airline that can claim consistent safety.  All of the other airlines in Russia have had a statistically significant number of plane crashes versus Aeroflot.  In Russia, “safety” is a differentiating benefit, but not in the US.

Interestingly, from airline industry laddering studies, we find that consumers want a few key things from airlines: safety, the desired routing, desired departure and arrival times and, given these things, the lowest price. It is not surprising that most airlines serve only peanuts, pretzels, or other snacks (and are largely undifferentiated in any substantive ways), but three highly successful airlines have emerged based upon further differentiation: Midwest Express, known as “The Best Care in the Air” (offering first class accommodations and treatment throughout the plane), Southwest Airlines (offering an inexpensive but highly reliable trip with a casual, fun atmosphere), and Jet Blue (featuring a fleet of brand new planes with roomy leather seats and free individual television viewing  at each seat).

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Brad VanAuken The Blake Project

One comment

  • Business Consultant

    January 14, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    This is so true! Too often, many companies simply rename an accepted business term or process then consider that differentiation. True differentation is doing something much better or unique that the competition can’t easily duplicate in a timely inexpensive fashion.

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