Simon Hart, Founder and Director of the Inkling Success Agency in Subiaco asks why are brands still so obsessed with themselves, and each other?
“And there’s a million of us just like me … Who dress like me, walk, talk and act like me. And just might be, the next best thing, but not quite me.” – Eminem
Full disclosure. This was meant to be one of those finger-on-the-pulse articles. Yet here we are, indulgently moulding our commentary on brand differentiation around the lyrics of a lewd white rapper from the naughties.
Maybe it’s his message. Or maybe it’s his hair – bleached to bone, just like today’s brands. You feel it too, right? A pixelated, copy-paste wasteland of Elvis impersonators and wax model mini-mes. You have to squint to make out the edges that bleed into one big marketing mess.
Why are brands still so obsessed with themselves, and each other? Surely by now we’ve realised benchmarking only brings you closer to your competitors.
The whole ‘what makes you different’ approach to business I think is flawed. It is more fruitful to focus on what you have in common with your customer and use that to pull them toward you.
Our high performance strategy work is built on understanding the fundamental challenges facing every business today. What does innovation, peak performance and market leadership look like? How does a customer define the relationship between price and value? When things go well, why is that? They call it ‘success-based thinking’, whereby a picture of success is painted and proactively incorporated into how a business presents itself.
The typical approach is really just ‘what-based thinking’, with creative used to take a leap into engaging territory. Doing so can be very effective at engaging an audience, but what does this approach do long term to redefine the way people think?
I think the challenge is to give people reasons to choose you beyond what you do, to communicate your competitive advantages in ways that are relevant to what your customers think, feel, behave and prioritise. In essence, changing the market conversation to something more meaningful.
Braver bolder brands that are self-aware, not self-obsessed? You have our attention.