By Guest Blogger Imogen Reed
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Ways to Stand Out in a Commoditizing Market Place
[Image from Channel Champion]
All products and services broadly speaking follow a life cycle, where the early adopters take on a product or service as soon as it is launched and then there are those who take up a product or service towards the end of its cycle or the end of that version, waiting until almost everyone else has already given it a go. Thinking of any product or service can nearly always be linked to a life span of some sort. For example, in terms of products, the mobile phone in the beginning was only really a tool of the affluent or business types. Similarly, in terms of services such as restaurants or balance transfer offers it is only a select few that try something out first, with the rest of the population following suit if it is successful and appeals to them.
It is only when the products or services become more uniform, more available and more affordable that they become the commonplace items or services that we know today. There is no defined time limit on a product life cycle and something may not always reach the end of a life cycle — it could evolve and develop to always maintain the peak of its success by constantly reinventing itself.
Something becomes commoditized when one offering is nearly indistinguishable from another. As a result of advances in technology, broader education and more aggressive marketing methods many goods and services, like mobile phones, bank accounts and even holiday destinations have become commoditized and, therefore, widely accessible.
(1) Working smarter
Companies now need to work smarter and harder to win over their customers to differentiate and set themselves apart in the marketplace. The best ones do this just one way — through branding their products and services. Coca Cola, Pandora and Apple are all well known brands with commoditized products — however, something drives their customers to their products and that is the power of their brand.
Whilst there are numerous ways to differentiate your business, through segmentation, product development, market research and so on, at the heart of them all is a company’s brand. Branding is all about getting to heart of your customers and understanding them better than they do themselves. The extent that a company can position itself as providing a superior value to its competitors will enable it to gain competitive advantage.
(2) Evoking emotional response
The best brands evoke strong emotional responses from their customers, thus creating a special relationship. This is often based on intangible qualities that the brand conveys through its logo, general look and feel, or the way the company interacts with its customers and how it conducts itself in the market place. Being the best brand isn’t always about price it is about the whole package and delivering that package well.
(3) Shrinking world
With the advent of social media the world has never been so small, certainly on a communications level at least. People can share something in an instant so whilst goods and services are infinitely more accessible, word of mouth has never been more widespread and companies/businesses should be mindful of this and leverage as appropriate when developing their brand. It is important to meet and some would argue exceed your customer’s expectations as far as possible. If a company fails not only will the world find out quicker there will also be a rival product waiting in the wings only too happy to pick up the pieces. Repairing a brand’s reputation is hard so the trick is not to damage it beyond ruin in the first place.
(4) Brand archetypes
Those interested in branding may like to consider the concept of ‘brand archetypes’ popularized by Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson in the book The Hero and The Outlaw.
The basic premise behind brand archetypes is that brands are a basic human social concept. They’re a way for us to understand ourselves and associate with others, and through common themes and characters, we can better understand how consumers connect with brands. For example; what is it that makes Nelson Mandela so inspiring or Oprah Winfrey so motivating? Why is the Harley-Davidson brand so compelling and exciting or Apple as a company so innovative and aspirational? Such iconic individuals, brands, and organizations command our attention because they carry the mythic power of an archetype. By aligning your company strategy and direction to brand archetypes you too can create an engaging and differentiated brand.
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Imogen Reed has been working full-time as a professional writer and researcher for five years; in that time there isn’t a lot she hasn’t already covered (including a nice article on Mary Louise Brooks, who defines: “I don’t give a damn”). Imogen enjoys writing with a site’s readership in mind. She can be reached at imogenATlinegrayDOTcom
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Thanks, Imogen — I agree with the importance of branding ;)! Here are a couple of links readers might like to check out:
(1) Differentiating the Brand is a PDF by Six Degrees (a sensory branding agency).
— Jess C Scott / jessINK