How do you differentiate your Brand from the rest?


The thing with hygiene brands is that, if they are any good, they actually do much the same thing as each of their competitors.

All kitchen cleaners leave the kitchen looking clean, all toothpastes clean your teeth and all toilet cleaners clean the toilet.

So how do you differentiate your brand from the rest? How do you make your brand stand out? How do you create loyalty in your consumers so that they stay with you even as prices go up at the same time as their disposable income is going down?

That is of course the whole point of a brand. It is a shorthand way of communicating your specific differences and advantages directly to your consumer. But a brand is more than just its communication. There has to be something in the consumer experience that backs up the claims you make for your brand. As your kitchen cleaner cleans equally as well as the next, it is not so much the end result, but the way that you get there that counts.

It is the consumers’ sensorial experience. The look, the feel, the aroma. The way that it achieves the end result that differentiates it from its competitors.

So, you focus upon the sensorial aspects of your products. The colour, the aroma, the thickness of the cream, the way that it foams…. These are the factors that affect the consumers’ belief in the brand.

Often these sensorial factors have very little to do with the actual effectiveness of the product. A lemon fragrance does not make the kitchen any cleaner than a pine one, but maybe the consumer feels that it does. And it is this consumers’ belief that is the important factor.

It is not the sensorial property in itself that makes your brand stand apart, but the way that the consumer reacts to it. They may say that they prefer brand A because of the lemon aroma, but what they mean is that the lemon aroma makes them feel better about their kitchen and thus about the brand that they have used to clean it.

If you want to differentiate your brand from the competition, yes you need to focus upon the sensory attributes, but you really need to dig deeper into the consumers’ emotional responses prompted by those sensory attributes.

When consumers tell you that they prefer one toothpaste over another they will probably tell you they prefer the flavour. But they are all mint flavours. Your sensory panel may be able to tell you the precise differences between the mint flavours, but not why one is better than another.

However, if you track the consumers’ emotional responses to the different flavours you can identify the individual elements of the flavour and textural delivery that cue the consumers’ positive responses.

What aspects of the flavour and the textural delivery cue which emotional reactions in the consumer and why. Exactly what is it that makes the consumer believe that this toothpaste is cleaning their teeth better, or suits them better, than the others.

It is the consumers’ emotional responses to the aroma, flavour and texture that are important, not the sensorial properties in themselves.

It is the same with all household and personal hygiene products. Once you understand how and why consumers respond as they do to your sensory attributes you have a clearer picture of which of those attributes to focus upon in product development and in your communications.

Once your brand finds and owns its differentiating attributes your consumers will not only notice why your product is best for them, they will also notice more acutely that your competitors do not give them the same feeling of satisfaction of a job well done.Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:

Providing Clarity on the Psychological relationships between consumers and brands