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Alain Giguère

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Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 12-06-13 at 10 a.m.

Image for Differentiation

Of all the aspects involved in marketing, the most challenging must certainly be differentiation. From in here, as for you out there, it can often seem that brands in some categories are All. The. Same.


Take the pickup truck ad - and we do mean The Ad - because there only seems to be one version. Cue the narrator's leather saddle of a voice, deeply intoning "If you're a big hombre who needs to move big stuff, then you need brand model xyz," followed by the proof point (big engine, big this, bigger that). Check 'em out, cowboy:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwC1D8s_-vU (Dodge)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ngOek2J65s (Chevy)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDuOp3Uff9Q (Ford)


How does a guy get a voice that leathery?


And beer ads? Pretty much the same story. To look at these, you'd think beer brands have one supreme purpose: magically transport the, uh, customer to a sex/fun/party wonderland:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLOfH-WzMsk (Bud Light Platinum)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsqXh9n0rew (Coors Light)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Qy20CksdQk (Budweiser)


Bikinis, cheerleaders and flamethrowers optional. Just kidding: they're mandatory.


Did you know you can do a lot of stuff with an iPhone? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evhr2ObJXsM


And how about with a Blackberry? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxpPXHvykHk


Notice the tagline: Built to keep you moving.


Meaning: you are very very busy and this brand will help you explore every possibility available to you because...yes. It does a lot of stuff.


Differentiating your brand is not about the tone of communication or cultural references. You have Justin Timberlake, I have Beyoncé. That is not differentiation. That is tomayto-tomahto.


In order to differentiate itself, a brand needs to tap into different consumer insights and plumb different consumer needs. Sex/Fun/Party in a rock bar and S/F/P in a pool in Miami obviously just address the same core needs, with different party wear.


Think of the way beauty products constantly tap into such modern consumer desires such as the "importance of physical beauty," "concern for appearance" and "status." Basically, brands help their consumers exist where it counts, in the eyes of others. Axe has slashed its way to the top of the heap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nszb0LE2Ngw


But one brand zagged where the others zigged. Dove went in the opposite direction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE


Dove was inspired by more deeply-sourced insights. They heard the silent voices: "I'm a woman, and have a negative body image, but I want to love myself as others around me do." This insight taps into the need for personal development. More specifically, Dove hit emotional touchpoints like "introspection and empathy" and "social learning." The brand has an intimate role, and one that breeds loyalty: to help you be beautiful in your own eyes.


The ad may touch you, or it may not. You may watch it sobbing over a box of your favourite tissues, or you may find it condescending.  Regardless, this is a strong example of true differentiation in brand positioning.


And for that, much love to Dove.