Value proposition differentiation

Value proposition differentiation. When you don’t have it you join the march of the pretty same, me too, sloppy and listless. Driven by reassurance and the security of the herd; wallpaper in a slightly different shade; a slightly different headline, a website in a similar style, the same navigation and user experience and the same message. Emulating, like own brand supermarket products do to ‘ease on shelf recognition’.

This is all well and good when you are a Tesco’s brand Anti Dandruff Shampoo sitting next to the genuine Head&Shoulders dancing the near line of passing off! It’s the wrong strategy for a business that needs a clear value proposition differentiation in a crowded and competitive market.

Not having value proposition differentiation

Uninspiring cloned gloop, is often beautifully garnished with some wonderfully inspiring and original corporate lines. Like: “Leaders in (insert)” or “The Number one in (insert)” or “Market Leaders in the (insert) industry” or “Award winning in (insert)” I don’t know about you, but I always think, if you have to say it as your value proposition differentiation, you clearly aren’t leading or differentiating anything! Brand leaders just are. Apple. Dyson. Peel&Stone. To me, it says, “We’re shit, but we feel entitled, we are clueless on how to change and we are in denial. We are hoping you think we are great because we say so.”

So then, who is to blame for this march of clones with no interesting and genuine differentiation?

For me, it’s a bit of everything. Businesses that have been hammered by the recession have developed a bad case of avoidant procrastination with ‘fear’ at board level that cascades through the ranks. Justification for innovation are based around “What are the competition doing?” Comfort reassurance being found in copying (a perceived) more successful competitor, who lets face it may not have got it right in the first place?

The agencies stopped challenging value proposition differentiation for fear of losing revenue, offending, pissing off the client, reducing themselves to ego masseuses just going along to get along. Opposed to pushing the differentiation (with evidence) constructive challenge and engagement.

The cost of having a technically high-quality website have dropped. This make it incredibly easy for businesses to start up. Templated self-build kits with read made content that can be put up in a matter of hours. WordPress and the fantastic themes and plugins. (We adore WordPress) This is brilliant and the way the internet should be. But the internet is now stuffed full of wish washy content and messages. How does the user differentiate with a choice of millions of options?

I often get greeted by prospects with a shrill vitriolic “We re-branded recently, new logo, a new website (to look like the competition)” My question is always the same “OK . . . so the figures for the business are? Have seen a significant uplift in sales, margins and market share?” There is normally an intake of breath; a reel of excuses “difficult trading” lots of looking up to the ceiling . . .

Fundamentally if the business is not enjoying a significant uplift in price point, trading, profits and positive perception – it is not brand development. There is no value proposition differentiation. Nothing has changed. Users vote with their feet. If you stand still you will die.

There is always an upside, for the smart ones who carefully invest in value proposition differentiation.

The sunshine, the positive, the good, the opportunity is this. If you do brand development properly in a structured way, and commit to constant iterative development and differentiation and story, you’ll leave those ‘pretty same’ clones behind. And best of all, (and I love this bit) they start to copy you! But you, being smart on point have already moved on after grabbing a good tasty chunk of their share of the market.

Be unique, compelling and lovable.
Don’t clone.


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