Brand Differentiation

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If brand stewards understand what underpins the attitudes of a brand’s most loyal customers — those who are truly “bonded” to the brand — they may be able to identify opportunities to convert other consumers THE BUSINESS OF BRANDS 6

to this profitable position. Our own analysis of brand loyalty data has revealed six broad factors that drive loyalty. In some categories, just one of these factors may be enough to make a brand the default choice for many consumers, but most strong brands benefit from a number of these advantages. Δ∆Rational benefits. Rational benefits can drive success when those benefits make a brand the most desirable choice.

Δ∆Emotional benefits. Emotional benefits are an advantage when the brand or the experience of the brand makes people feel good.
Δ∆Popularity. Popularity can drive purchase by signaling that a brand is a safe choice, from either a functional or a social point of view, or both.
Δ∆Difference. A point of difference sets a brand apart and gives people a reason to choose it over alternatives. Δ∆Dynamism. A brand with a sense of dynamism is one that is setting trends or shaking up the status quo. Δ∆Value. A value proposition will always be appealing to people who are looking for a good deal or the lowest price.

These six basic drivers of loyalty will play out in different ways depending on the category, and the nuance of each will differ from brand to brand. For example, the satisfaction that someone feels when relaxing at a Starbucks is a different feeling than the satisfaction experienced when driving a Mercedes.

The economic theory is analytic rather than empirical.
Logically, brands that are less substitutable will compete
less directly. This does not mean that the normative
strategy implications are proven. They depend on some
important empirical questions concerning differentiation
in the real world, such as:
Abstract
The credibility and vibrancy of any discipline depends on a willingness to question even...
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