A member of a start-up advisory program, Denise Yohn, explains one way she evaluates business pitches in a recent article for Harvard Business Review: The “-er brand” filter. An “-er brand” relies on other brands, products and services to describe their own, Yohn says in the article “Don’t Settle for Being an “-er Brand.” Think Hyundai – the car company wants to be seen as just as good as Lexus, but cheap-er. This type of positioning tells potential customers that your brand has only relative, not inherent value. It’s great to be cheaper, faster, and better – but you should never let those relative traits define your business. Here are several ways to avoid being an “-er brand,” and ensure that your business is differentiated to the core:
- Why – purpose and values. A powerful and oft-overlooked way to differentiate is with your mission and values. And once you’ve distinguished yourself here, everything else falls into place. Tropical and spa brands are popular in the industry, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but think about how different you could be by focusing your salon on the values of an active lifestyle. Dedicate your salon to being the ultimate destination for preparations for glamorous events. Or tie your mission directly to a cause that’s important to you…anything that makes you distinctive.
- Who – target customers. You can also define your brand based on who it’s for. Maybe older women find other brands in your market to be too childish and would love to find a place more refined. Perhaps men are uncomfortable with the feminine-styled salons in the area and want something more clean and neutral. You don’t have to alienate everyone else by defining a target customer, but you also can’t focus on getting them all. If you can be the best at accommodating to one segment, you should be in good shape.
- How – personality. Think about Southwest Airlines, Trader Joe’s, and Harley-Davidson – these brands are built on a distinctive personality. Imagine your business as a person – who would it be? Think about it that way, and make sure that every aspect and detail of the business reflects that personality.
Click here to read the article from Harvard Business Review.