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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Brand differentiation for health and healthy lifestyle brands

Differentiation is the ability of your healthcare or healthy lifestyle brand to stand apart from others in your market, in ways that are important to your audiences and supported by your organizational strengths. It reflects not only how you're going to play the game, but how you're going to play it differently by creating meaningful, genuine and lasting points of difference. 

But most brands are failing. A 2006 study by Copernicus Greenfield showed that brands in 48 out of 51 product/service categories were perceived to be undifferentiated by consumers. And 80%+ of products still continue to fail, according to Ernst & Young, because of lack of differentiation.

Yet the benefits of differentiation as shown below (in terms of profit margins, operating earnings, market cap growth) are tremendous, as demonstrated by Y&R's Brand Asset Valuator.

So why are most brands failing. Because differentiation actually requires you to think different and do different, starting with your strategy. Which requires original thinking - which is sorely lacking today. But there are some brands that are truly differentiated, and that transcend their categories.

These brands:

• are aligned - with the culture of the organization behind them (e.g. Nike, Southwest Airlines)
• are relevant and deliver on their promises - what people want and performing the way they want them to (e.g. Ikea, Nordstrom)
• are surprising - raising the bar relative to expectations (e.g. Virgin, Jones Soda, Cirque De Soleil)
• tap emotions - as product benefits have become table stakes (e.g. Harley-Davidson, Tiffany)
• execute brilliantly - through their actions and interactions (e.g. Ralph Lauren, Zappos)

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