Brands, brands and more brands. There are brands for clothing, shoes, technology, ice cream, cheese, hunting gear, kitchen appliances, restaurants, phone services — shoot, there are even brands for toilet paper. And guess what? There are more than 3,000 brands of water. Three thousand, and they all exist because they believe they have something new to offer, a different position than everyone else. This question is crucial to the existence of any company, store or service trying to make it in this world: what is it about you that makes you different than your competitors?

Let’s imagine a common scene: a customer, walking down the isle of a local grocer, looking to purchase a jar of spaghetti sauce. There’s at least a dozen to choose from and which do they choose? The cheapest? The one their family always gets? One with meatballs? One with the Italian chef and fancy name on the label?

Why Brands Matter

There’s so many choices and options in this day and age and believe it or not, brands help make that choice easier. If your mom had always used Brand A’s laundry detergent, it’s just a habit to choose the same one. It works and smells like home, why change? It’s explained simply that when a consumer repeatedly buys one brand that “consistently deliver(s) a positive experience, consumers form an opinion that the brand is trustworthy, which gives them peace of mind when buying” (MicroArts). Instead of having to think about which product to choose, consumers begin to trust and know which brand they’ll buy because they haven’t been disappointed in the past.

In today’s culture, we use brands to define who we are. Indirectly, what we wear, use, and drive portrays who we are and what we represent. In 7 Reasons Why Brands Matter To Your Consumers by MicroArts Creative Agency, it states, “The brands we use make a statement about who we are and who we want to be.”

It’s an interesting idea, using brands to ultimately ‘brand yourself’. But that’s the key- we buy the brands that we identify with and feel best represent ourselves, or what we aspire to be. Recently there’s been social urges to discover and identify yourself. With this, many more want to identify themselves as adventurous, thus numerous clothing, hiking gear and photography brands have taken off with that ideology of adventure and wanderlust behind it. Those brands have identified themselves to an idea and are targeting themselves to a specific audience.

Brand Positioning

When a brand is built, it is based upon an idea or a reason. As mentioned earlier, there’s over 3,000 different brands of water, and they all claim to be unique enough to have their own name. There’s some from springs in the mountains, one with extra vitamins, others from exotic places where they’ve been able to extract the purest and cleanest water in the world, etc. Point being, it’s pointless to create a new brand or store if there’s nothing different. A brand has to decide what is or will be different about them than their competitors; they have to decide what will be their tipping point. This concept of setting yourself apart comes from identifying an ‘X factor’ based from the reasoning and positioning of the brand. In a podcast titled “A Brand Called You”, Debbie Miller states, “Great position sits at the heart and it drives everything you do.”

As people, we need to overcome our differences to coexist and live peacefully, but this message doesn’t tie over to the marketing world. As products and businesses, it’s the differences that will ultimately attract or expel customers. This is your shot to differentiate yourself. Recognize your strengths, benefits, and differences and accentuate them. What can you bring to the table that can’t be replicated? If consumers are given no reason to pick Brand A over Brand B, the choice is now decided by the difference of change (How to Differentiate Yourself (and Make Money Doing it)). Identify what it is you truly want your brand, store or service to represent. Be deliberate in differentiation; make the decision have more weight than a dime and a nickel.