Brand differentiation is what sets you apart from your competition. Without a unique benefit and appearance, you’ll have little to leverage in your marketing. However, when you clearly understand what makes you different and what you can offer your clients, you’ll have the knowledge you need to reach your audience with more relevant content, write with more clarity, and present a more appealing offer.
- Brand differentiation is the features that make your business unique
- Vertical differentiation is features that are superior to your competition, while horizontal differentiation is features that are different from your competition
- Make your brand differentiation about the consumer and which of their challenges you can solve
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What Is Brand Differentiation?
Brand differentiation sets your brand apart from your competition by highlighting benefits you offer your customers or unique features that make you superior or unique.
The distinguishing factor can be anything tangible or emotional. For example, it can be a feature that makes your products better quality than your competition or a feeling you provide your customers that they won't find from your competition.
How Do You Use Brand Differentiation?
You’ll use your brand differentiation in your tech marketing strategies to demonstrate to customers why they should choose you over your competition.
For example, Tesla came on the market as a luxury electric vehicle, creating a demand for electric cars rather than simply attracting electric car owners. Instead of competing against other affordable electric options by mass producing their car, they differentiated themselves by building a high-end luxury model that became a nationwide sensation.
How Can You Differentiate Your Brand?
Once you understand your competition, you must choose whether to use vertical, horizontal, or mixed differentiation.
Vertical differentiation means your features are superior to your competition. For example, name brand products differentiate themselves based on a higher quality than generic brands, which is why consumers are willing to pay a higher price for name brands.
Meanwhile, horizontal differentiation means you’re similar to your competition, so your value depends on your consumer's preference. For example, Verizon and AT&T offer similar products and services at the same level. Instead of trying to market themselves above the other, they differentiate themselves horizontally by offering unique perks or focusing on a specific area, like their 5G network.
Here are several ways you can differentiate yourself from your competition:
- Pricing differences: Your product costs more or less than the competition
- Niche products: You service a unique niche, like software companies that market specifically to financial institutions or data management platforms that work with healthcare facilities
- Expert advice: You have expertise in a needed area, like tech companies that offer webinars on data security for businesses that struggle in that area
- Unique experience: You offer an experience others don't, like better customer service
- Location: You serve a specific geographic location
- Community: You’re part of a group or community
- Causes: You support a well-known cause
- Unique products: Your products have a feature other products don't
Most successful businesses are three times as likely to have a strong product differentiator. Find which area you’re different from your competition and use that to create your brand differentiation.
7 Tips for Identifying Brand Differentiation Factors for Tech Brands
Use these seven steps to use your brand differentiation to improve your marketing efforts.
1. Avoid Clichés
In the past, some businesses have over-used certain brand differentiators so often that they have become clichés and are no longer marketable features. Clichés often include statements that cannot be easily verified and don't differentiate a business. Some examples of clichés that marketers should avoid include:
- "We strive for excellence"
- "We offer great customer service"
- "We are trusted advisors"
2. Ensure Your Brand Differentiation Is Accurate
A true differentiator is a feature that your products or services have.
Making up a benefit to sound more positive will only hurt you in the long term as it will betray the trust you're trying to build with your audience. Instead, find a quality that describes you accurately without exaggeration.
For example, don't claim to be the top brand in a niche if you can't support that claim.
3. Make Your Brand Differentiation Relevant
Your brand differentiator should be relevant to your audience by addressing customers' real problems. Making "You" statements is one way to test whether your brand differentiator keeps your audience at the center.
For example, Geico's slogan says, "Fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance." That entire statement focuses on the customer. In addition, it represents the service's features as a benefit to the audience.
Another example of writing customer-centric brand differentiation statements is saying, "You can save on money," rather than, "We have cheaper insurance."
4. Make Your Brand Differentiation Provable
You should be able to back up your differentiation claim with proof. For example, if you claim your service is faster than the competition, you must also show the numbers that prove how fast your service is compared to other services.
For example, you might say you respond to all inquiries within 24 hours as that's a claim backed by a measurable number and easily proven.
5. Use Unique Visuals
Branding is one of the most important ways you can differentiate your business. Branding includes colors, tone of voice, logo, and slogans you use. By keeping these aspects consistent, you mark your content and brand, which helps you stand out from your competition.
Your logo is one of your most valuable tools for brand consistency and incorporating your differentiating factors. Imagery, colors, and shape influence people's emotions and elicit a desired response. For example, Instagram's logo is bright and colorful, reflecting its differentiation factor of being a creative social media hub. The camera symbol is another reflection of its purpose: a picture and video sharing site.
In contrast, LinkedIn has a simple logo consisting of a business-blue square surrounding a white "L" that reflects its identity as a professional social media site.
Using consistent colors, shapes, and imagery in your logo, content, and branding reinforces these differentiation factors across all your channels and content.
Image from Creative Bloq
6. Know What Your Customers Are Saying
If you’re having trouble identifying what makes your brand different, you don't have to look further than your happy customers. Customers with a positive experience with your brand are more likely to leave positive feedback or respond to a survey or be willing to be interviewed by your marketing team.
In that survey or feedback, they could be asked to identify what drew them to your brand and what specifically led them to a buying decision with your business. If you conduct a client interview, they’re likely willing to elaborate in detail, providing your marketing team with all the tools they need to identify and clarify your brand differentiators.
What your customers notice about you and what motivates them to purchase from your brand will be one of the most powerful sources for identifying your brand differentiation factors.
7. Add Your Own Differentiation Factor
Sometimes your differences aren't pronounced enough to impact a buyer's decision. If that's the case, you can create your own differentiation factor.
For example, you can partner with another tech company to offer special package deals that your competition doesn't provide. For instance, some credit card companies will partner with airlines, restaurants, or stores to offer unique benefits that distinguish their offerings from other credit cards.
What Makes You Different?
Brand differentiation is key to a thriving IT marketing strategy as it will tell your consumers why they should choose you over your competition.
ActualTech Media's content creation services can help promote your brand differentiation and let your buyers know what makes you unique.
Contact us to learn more about our content creation services.