The Point of Brand Differentiation

Brand differentiation is  about your brand being different. It’s literally that simple.

So, in the search for brand differentiation, why are most B2B marketing organisations so compelled to follow the same processes, in the same way, to achieve the same outcomes?

—oOo—

“Hello, am I speaking to Scot McKee?”

“Yes, Scot speaking.”

“Great, I’d like to talk to you about our brand challenge.”

“Go ahead.”

“Well, we operate in a very competitive business space where brand differentiation is incredibly difficult – we’re basically all the same.”

“Ok.”

“Everyone’s been competing on price and it’s currently a race to the bottom. So we’re at a point where margins have been eroded, we look and sound the same as our competitors, and our customers have no way of distinguishing our products from anyone else’s.”

“Ok.”

“I’d like a new B2B brand strategy that helps with our rebranding as the market leader, improves our brand awareness and provides the brand differentiation we need to fight on something other than price.”

“Ok.”

“So I’m contacting several agencies and I’d like to hear what you think you could do to help.”

“Mmmm.”

“Yes, so I’m not expecting a full pitch or anything, but I’d like to arrange a conference call in the first instance so you can explain to our team how you work on brand differentiation projects.”

[Silence…]

“Eh, and then I’d like to set aside a day where the agencies can come in and give us an idea of how they would approach our challenge.”

[More silence…]

“Umm, how does that sound…?”

[Tumbleweed…]

“Err, so, this, you know, this is a great opportunity for you… And to start with, perhaps you could run through your offering and services with me right now…?”

“No.”

“Good… I mean, what?”

“You seem to think I’m looking to sell you something.”

“Aren’t you?”

“No, I’m not. You’re looking to buy something. There’s a difference.”

“I don’t see how. You sell brand services – it says, ‘Branding and shit like that’ on your logo. You sell branding and I want to buy branding. What’s the problem…?”

“Well you got half of that right. You want to buy brand services, but I’m not selling them.”

“What?!”

“I’m not actively ‘selling’ anything. Our skills at Birddog are self-evident. They’ve been built, tested, delivered and proven over 25 years. I don’t need to ‘sell’ them, I just need to make you aware that they’re available. Buy them if you like. Or don’t.”

“Yes, but I don’t know you from Adam.”

“That’s not my problem, that’s an oversight on your part. And you can rectify it all on your own – you don’t need calls, or meetings, or presentations. You just need to get your shit together.”

“Excuse me?”

“Look, our website provides positioning, our credentials provide evidence, our content strategy provides intelligence, our social channels provide personality, our client testimonials provide proof. They’re all available to you. It’s called ‘branding’. What the fuck else do you actually need to make a decision?”

 

“We operate in a very competitive business space where service differentiation is incredibly difficult – we’re basically all the same.”

 

“Eh, I think you may be a little too… eh, ‘risky’ for us at this stage…”

“You mean you’re too scared.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“No, you didn’t, but there are a number of other agencies happy to meet, call, discuss, all in broadly the same, benign, unremarkable way.”

“Well, yes.”

“And you’re more comfortable with that established, secure, managed solution.”

“Yes.”

“Well fuck off then, we wouldn’t work with you anyway.”

“What?! I’m the client. I’m… I’m… a thought leader.”

“Not to me. To me, you’re just another time-wasting dick.”

“Look I don’t think a meeting and a request for you to outline your ideas is too much to ask.”

“Well someone has to carry the cost. Are you going to pay for it?”

“Eh, actually, no.”

“Me neither. I’m busy working with people who’ve already got their shit together and made the decision that they want to work on brand positioning with Birddog. Only Birddog. Because only Birddog measures up. Only Birddog can fix their festering, suppurating brand sores.”

“Well, you’ve got balls, I’ll give you that.”

“So I’m told.”

“No one from an agency’s ever spoken to me like that.”

“You’re welcome.”

“And you’ve got the capabilities, that much is obvious. Maybe we do need your alternative approach.”

“You do.”

“Maybe we should just brief you and let you get started.”

“You should.”

“And you seriously won’t have a meeting with us?”

“Of course we will, I was just shittin’ you.”

“Ohmygod, what?!”

“When you decide Birddog’s the right answer, as opposed to one of many possible answers, we’re all in.”

“Ha! Ok, great, let’s get a date in the diary… can’t believe you made me go through all that other stress though.”

“Well, you know how you said you wanted to differentiate your brand, stop competing on price, be more distinctive and reposition yourself as the market leader?”

“Yes…”

“You’ve just had your first lesson.”

[Pause]

[Pause Again]

“Fuck.”

“Yeah. Welcome to Birddog, see you on Tuesday.”

 

Scot McKee
Managing Director
Birddog Ltd.

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