March 19, 2021  |  Expertise

Brand Difference Versus Brand Distinction in CPG

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More often than not, the million-dollar question at the round table for a rebrand or reposition is: “What about Brand X makes it different from the competition?”
Uncovering the difference in brand is often synonymous with uncovering a creative “hook.”
Unfortunately, this approach can lead to roadblocks and frustration throughout the creative process. 

Here’s why:

CPG categories are seeing more innovation to meet new post-COVID era consumer health needs, and therefore becoming more saturated. What was once a true fundamental product difference, is now table stakes.

For example, coffee. The beans are all 100% organic arabica. They are the best quality beans out there. Harvested by local experts.  The company is fair trade. The cold brew version is made with real oat milk. The product is simply stellar!

But many companies fall into the better mousetrap hole where they claim differentiation by claiming superiority for product qualities that already exist across brands (we are different because we have better beans, we are actually organic).

This approach not only dilutes trust with consumers, but it also isn’t memorable to consumers. And it creates insurmountable challenges when it comes to creative — writing and designing to something that already exists but is just “better.”

Category innovation happens in cycles, where competition eventually catches up, and there is something “better” to be had.

What is memorable to consumers, and more timeless in industries, is distinction in brand.

Distinction most notably comes in the forms of persona and nuance:

Persona: A brand personality and character can set the stage for an entirely different experience than other category competition. It has a distinct point of view that comes to life in a distinctive way – just like a real person.

Nuance: Instead of claiming expertise in everything (taste, ingredients, packaging, procurement), claim expertise in a few things. A few things that will stick in a buyer’s mind, garner trust and make your claims more believable.

Differentiation in saturated categories cannot carry a compelling brand story. But distinction can.