I was reading the other day and came across an old concept, one that I had all but forgotten about. It’s the idea of having unfair competitive advantage over the competition. It’s what happens when one brand has such a dominant or unique position in the market that people rarely even think of the competition. But the article I read was an interview with Brent Smart, the CMO of IAG, an Australian insurance group. (Link in the sidebar.) He takes the concept further. He talks about unfair share of culture. As Smart points out, Nike has this kind of “unfair” share of culture. I might add that so does Apple. That’s why it can get away with charging premium prices for its products. So does Donald Trump. The other Republican candidates in 2016 never had a chance. As the news pundits at the time kept repeating, Trump “takes up all the air in the room.” Do you ever wonder how these brands get to be so dominant in the culture? There’s no secret to it. They work their brands.
A brand is a relationship, just like a marriage. But instead of a relationship between two spouses, it’s a relationship between a marketable asset and its market. To build a strong marriage, you have to put some work into it. You have to attend to the needs of your spouse. For best results, you have to over perform. To build a strong brand, you have to do the same. Your market has needs. What are they? How can we meet them? How can we exceed expectations? How can we get our market to love us?
Nike, Apple and Trump all do that in their own way. They all stand out in the culture because they set out to be prominent. They each created a very strong brand and then they worked it – hard. I doubt Trump took a very disciplined approach to it. But Nike and Apple, being companies, had to. That’s the only way they could get all their employees on board. They each know their:
– brand purpose
– social purpose (optional)
– brand persona
– unique, distinguishing, brand promise
These are the planks in your brand platform. You get all these ducks in a row and then you work it. That is, you start communicating with your market. You make sure you’re consistent in your brand messaging and in your media/frequency choices. You regularly make your brand promise to the correct market and in the manner that is most acceptable to it.
You see to it that every customer touch point is integrated, on-brand, and delivering engaging customer experiences. You ensure that every time the customer sees you they see you either making the brand promise or delivering on it. In fact, you strive to over deliver. You want to gain the kind of reputation that makes you everybody’s easy first choice. We talked about being easy first choice a couple of weeks ago. Unfair competitive advantage is just that but on steroids. Unfair Share of Culture is even more powerful.
We had a startup client that was struggling. We built their brand platform, created their marketing tools and coached them on how to work their brand. Within five years, they were market leaders. Five years after that they had achieved unfair competitive advantage. They were the 800 lb. in their market. But they never achieved unfair share of culture. Why? First, because they were strictly a B2B firm and would never gain the kind of popular cultural exposure it would take. Secondly, they got acquired by Intel, a firm that does enjoy unfair share of culture.
Intel followed all those steps too. But once they dominated their competition, they didn’t let up on working their brand. They went further. They started leaving stodgy old B2B for the wild, wild west of B2C. They started letting the general population know that Intel chips powered most of the PCs in the world. They claimed superiority and advised consumers to insist on computers that bore the label, “Intel Inside”. They worked that angle hard for a long time. It helped sell a ton of Intel-driven PCs. And Intel eventually won that unfair share of culture, earning them enough money to buy our client and many others.
If you’re running a B2C firm, you should be aiming for unfair share of culture. Be sure of your brand platform, then work it. If you run a B2B firm, you should at least be aiming for unfair competitive advantage. Once you get there, examine your brand. Do you, like Intel, have a shot at unfair share of culture? If so, go for it!
BEST BRANDING READS – WEEK OF NOVEMBER 16, 2020
IAG’s Brent Smart: Brand building is more important than ever
The goal is to attain an unfair share of culture.
The Ins and Outs of the Brand Funnel
Good tips here on moving the right people through the funnel
4 Ways To Build Brand Loyalty In Uncertain Times
Once customers slide down the brand funnel, send them up the loyalty ladder.
Personalization Strategy: Past, Present And Future
At what point will personalization feel … kinda creepy?
Toronto Argonauts Introduce New Logo for 2021
For some reason, I like the monochromatic color scheme. I mean colour scheme.
The Ultimate Car Logo Quiz
Something fun to do during the pandemic
Gamification – Take Customer Engagement to the Next Level
A good way to build your brand’s community