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Aiming for Distinctiveness over Differentiation in Advertising

Peter O'Leary 13 Nov 2015 • 2 mins read

Contemporary marketing strategies often rely heavily on the overly simple idea that “different is good”. Campaigns are designed to cleverly exploit a brand’s (real or perceived) benefits as they relate to (real or perceived) consumer dilemmas. It’s an attempt at creating meaning for the product in the consumers’ lives. But how much do consumers actually identify differentiation between competing brands?

Research says...

According to empirical data and modern marketing science – not that much. Growing a brand isn’t about competing for existing space in the market. It’s about creating a space that’s distinctly yours. Factual data supports the idea that this is best achieved by refining the distinctive qualities of your brand.

Developing distinctive brand assets such as logos, colours and specific imagery helps distinguish your brand in plain, unmistakable ways. The brain operates on an instinctual, habitual and emotional axis when shopping and memory determines what people notice. Strong brand assets spark neuro-rich triggers in the mind and it’s these triggers that galvanise consumer investment in your product or service.

Brands are genetically singular, and as such, advertising strategies needn’t shy away from what makes them unique.

The big difference

While differentiation emphasises comparison and is largely driven by wheel-spinning cycles of competitive one-upmanship, simple and distinctive brand asset-driven marketing makes it possible for a brand to become more recognisable on its own terms. Consistent use of basic, easy-to-remember brand assets help create key memory structures that are triggered when the consumer is looking for a product or service in your category.

Brands are genetically singular, and as such, advertising strategies needn’t shy away from what makes them unique. Distinct traits should be embraced and the focus ought to be on getting your brand noticed for being itself – not by inventing or embellishing reasons why it’s different from other names in its category.

Can’t figure out how to approach distinctive advertising? Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with AMBA business leaders and find out how to augment your advertising strategy.