Branding 101: Brand Differentiation

Meet the writer: Karen Pieper

Hi, I'm Karen! I've been in the industry for 21 years and can't wait to share my perspective on all things direct mail. I'm currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Letter Jacket Envelopes and deal with tasks from managing the website, facilitating conversations with customers, and much more!

With more registered businesses out in the wild than ever before, achieving brand differentiation has become a critically important endeavor. Brands that fail to differentiate get trapped in “me, too” syndrome — or worse, obscurity. Those that do manage to stand out have more tools at their fingertips than any point in history to reach out to their audience and grow through the unique name they have made themselves.

The only problem is getting there. Fortunately, brand differentiation can be attained if companies follow a few simple steps.

  1. Brand Differentiation Starts with Your Unique Value Proposition

Complete the following sentence: “Our customers choose us over competitors because ____.” If your answer is something circumstantial like “Our business location is on their ride home,” then you may need to rethink exactly what it is you offer.

Ideally, your answer will be compelling, specific and honest. Most people start a business because they believe that they have a particular skill or interest in a certain field. When you pursue a professional line of work, you will need to communicate how your passion and talent becomes infused in the products or services you sell. The difference between you and the other guys does not even have to be all that significant; something simple like “We care more!” can achieve the right type of brand differentiation when handled correctly.

So, whether you have certain industry knowledge, offer unique products, consistently provide value in the form of special offers or have simply been around the block the longest, tap into a reason that someone should choose you over others.

  1. Infuse Your Unique Value Proposition into Your Brand Promises

The next step after identifying what makes you unique is to figure out how to “sell” it. Communicating a secondary emotional product related to how your brand does things differently is always a solid approach. Consider Nike’s long-standing slogan “Just Do It.” This simple yet effective phrase distills so many ideas about being fearless, striving for the best and not letting obstacles stand in your way. None of those values have anything to do with polyester basketball shorts, but Nike nevertheless separates itself from the likes of Adidas and Reebok through their pioneering yet simple approach.

  1. Develop a Unique Method of Advertising Your Brand

GEICO uses humor. Allstate uses comfort. State Farm claims to “know the gaps” in insurance coverage. Communicating the value of your brand may not always be directly related to the form of communication. Brand “mascots” were once an effective method to communicate whatever idea the brand wished, but now these gimmicky approaches have mostly fallen out of vogue in favor of simple human messages that speak straight to the sensibilities of the Average Joe/Jane.

A solid logo, color scheme, tagline and general design sensibilities can go a much longer way these days than a talking cartoon animal, so think simply about how to connect with audiences on an emotional yet logical level.

  1. Use Your Branding Elements and Unique Messaging Approach Consistently

With a solid set of branding identifiers and one or a few potential campaign ideas, you are on your way towards achieving brand recognition through differentiation. The key at this point is to remain consistent. Establishing that you are different requires repetition and reinforcement so that the point hits home rather than skimming off the surface.

Letter Jacket can help you attain this consistency with our custom-printed envelopes and our branding consultancy services. Our experience with helping brands look professional has translated to a natural eye for good branding and solid messaging. We also encourage our clients to use their logo or any branding graphic elements any way they can. Learn how easy it is to upload custom artwork by viewing our custom-printed envelope post.

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