Branding

A brand is nothing more than the summation of people’s perception of you.  Individuals have brands, companies have brands, products have brands, services have brands.  There are ways to control this perception in marketing, but if the core isn’t set in a rock solid foundation, then a brand turns into a shaky home to your business.

The brand pyramid includes the meat of what sets the stage for a brand. Everything beyond these items can be adjusted but a brand simply cannot proceed without establishing each of these levels. Like Maslow’s Hierarchy, the higher levels can never be attained without the foundational level below it.  Below, you will find our definitions for each level of the pyramid as well as the surrounding concepts.

PILLARS

At its core, what does your business stand for? What are the driving forces behind every decision you make for your business? What markers do you have in place to make sure your brand’s quality stays consistent?

Pillars can help you answer these questions. Simply put, pillars are words that you set as guiding principles for your brand. They keep you on track when you have to make decisions, both big and small while helping you decide if an opportunity is the right fit for your company.

The premise is simple: follow your pillars and you’ll stay true to your business ethics and goals. Most businesses only need about five pillars to be well rounded.

VISION

A vision statement should be concise, no longer than a sentence or a few paragraphs. You want your entire team and organization to be able to quickly repeat it and, more importantly, understand it.

A vision is aspiration. A mission is actionable. Although both mission and vision statements should be core elements of your organization, a vision statement serves as your company's north star.

MISSION

A mission statement define a company’s goals in three important ways:

  • It defines what the company does for its customers
  • It defines what the company does for its employees
  • It defines what the company does for its owners

COMPETITIVE DIFFERENTIATION

In order for a competitive differentiation to be market viable, all three of the following must be true:

  • Relevant to the market
  • Not easily replicated
  • Verifiable/actually true

Those three constraints, should they all be held true, limit the possibility of differentiation to something more manageable.  Here are the categories of differentiation or mechanisms by which an organization may answer “why?”:

Though it is a deviation from conventional wisdom, in today’s markets, price and product do not pass the litmus test 99% of the time as viable or long-term competitive differentiations either.  They are both easily replicable.  Distribution is doable, but very tricky, given the Amazon Prime culture that we have groomed over the last decade.

Types of Competitive Differentiation

  • Product Differentiation - Examples include performance, features, design, etc.
  • Service Differentiation - Examples include warranty, ordering ease, installation, convenience, etc.
  • Relationship Differentiation - Examples include great customer service, courtesy, credibility, responsiveness, etc.
  • Brand/Reputation Differentiation - Examples include social perception, communication, marketing, advertising
  • Price Differentiation - Examples include low / budget pricing, high pricing for exclusivity, etc.
  • Distribution Differentiation - Examples include delivery speed, delivery method, etc.

It’s worth noting that about 80% of our clients  list “customer service” as their primary differentiator.  Rarely, and I do mean rarely, is this actually true.

Customer service as a differentiation can exist, but it has to be absolutely amazing to be a differentiator.  Think Trader Joe’s, Amazon, and Costco.  All three of those are ceaselessly committed to the customer’s satisfaction to their own loss at times.  They are actually globally known for their exceptional customer service, yet they do not rely upon that as their chief differentiation.  That’s the caliber that one must think of when considering customer service as a competitive differentiation.