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Feb 19, 2015

The Importance of Differentiation: Not The Clone Wars

Previously on this blog we’ve looked at just how crucial rebranding is for your company. Branding, after all, is what defines a company – it’s how you know the difference between Nike and Reebok, Pepsi and Coke. And one key facet of that deserves some far deeper attention, the importance of differentiation.

No-one wants to be exactly like their competitors. What’s the point in that? So let’s use our old friends Mr. Pepsi and Mr. Coke to look at just how two rivals can compete against each other and remain successful.


For all intents and purposes, Coke and Pepsi are exactly the same. Y’know, they both sell black, sugary soft drinks. Both are defined as colas. They both even have red in their logo. So yeah, they’re identical products – sort of. But what separates the two, how are they different?

Well, right off the bat, is taste. We’ve all heard of the Pepsi Taste Test – which is miraculously won by Pepsi whenever they ask folks to choose their favourite, based on a sip of drink. The taste of Pepsi is far more citrus-y, compared to Coke’s vanilla-raisin flavour. And that difference in taste underpins everything that forms each company’s brand.


So where Coke offers a heritage-rich, family-friendly, emotional connection, Pepsi – much like its flavour – is fun, refreshing and youthful. You can see this in everything Pepsi does: the celebrity ambassadors, the music download offers, the funny commercials. It’s this difference in positioning that means that Pepsi isn’t just a knock-off Coke. And that’s precisely the same with Burger King, who heavily advertised their major difference over McDonalds – flame-grilled burgers, which equals masculinity and authenticity compared to McDonalds’ family-focussed affordability.


When you’re going up against your own competitors, it’s vital that you understand not just who you are – as a company, of course – but also what your unique selling point (USP) is. Cultivate that USP, turn it to your advantage. Even negatives can be turned into positives, like Avis’s iconic advertising slogan, ‘We try harder’. Sure, they knew they couldn’t compete with the bigger rival, Hertz. But rather than pretending to be equal in size, Avis trumpeted their brand’s caring side – unlike a big, faceless corporation like Hertz. See how that works?

So your USP needs to be a pretty clear definer of who you are and what you do better than anyone else. Do you offer superior customer service? Have you got an unrivalled heritage? Is your product the only one to contain real strawberries? Whatever it is, it’s differences like these that set you apart from the competition. And that’s the message you want to get out there.


That’s where we can help. We offer the direct marketing works – from demographic profiling to printing and leaflet delivery. So if you’ve got the message, we’ll help you get it to the right people. For more info on what we do, how we do it, and how we can help you, simply contact us on 0800 028 6353 and our dedicated staff will be happy to assist.

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