9 Clear Cut Ways You Can Differentiate Your Brand

By: Scott Seroka

Many companies in the financial industry struggle to differentiate their brands. 

The most common, yet historically ineffective strategy to differentiate away from the black hole of commoditization is to simply offer enhanced and/or additional products and services. Although a short-term solution, it is a difficult strategy to sustain. Competitors will quickly copy those products and services and brand them with creative names, neutralizing your short-lived competitive advantage.

On one hand, this scenario creates an ideal buyers’ environment. Competition, coupled with a company’s strong desire to not have its products and services classified as commodities, drives innovation and service delivery while keeping prices and interest rates competitive.

But on the other hand, it’s a perpetuation of a vicious cycle of one-upping the competition for moments in time that few wish to endure, and only a handful can maintain.

The way out of commoditization is through delivering unique and unconventional brand experiences.

If we look to the successes of brands such as Apple, Tesla, and Under Armour, each tells a story of how they were able to swagger away from the world of commoditization by creating brand experiences people fell in love with. And although each of these brands may not be the largest in their respective categories in sales and profitability, all of them found a path to building a base of loyal customers. These customers are more than willing to pay a premium for their products.

For example, in the world of computers, iOS (Apple) may be outsold many times by Windows. But in the personal computing industry, when we think of a powerful brand, we think of Apple first – not Toshiba, HP, Dell, Lenovo or ASUS.

However, not all products and services are as seductive as computers, cars and shoes.

If you’re selling financial products and services – not quite as glamorous – you can still differentiate your brand away from commoditization. This is done through a combination of tactics designed to build your reputation, such as:

  1. Being fanatically responsive
  2. Obsessing over accuracy
  3. Beating deadlines
  4. Becoming ridiculously easy to do business with
  5. Initiating a continuous learning culture throughout your organization
  6. Creating strategic partnerships with high-profile brands as an extension of your own brand
  7. Becoming an industry leader or specialist in one key domain
  8. Treating each other internally as well as your most valuable and profitable customer
  9. Focusing on being customer-centric for your internal as well as external customers

The Challenge: Pick Three!

There are plenty of companies that have built successful brands around one or two of the above tactics.

The time is now to take advantage of a business climate where people expect more than ever before from brands, yet many brands are far from living up to those expectations.

Pick three tactics from the above that you believe you have the potential of delivering better than the competition, and be relentless about implementation and consistency.

Aiming any lower will keep your brand closer to the commodity territory – a challenging and dangerous place to be.