Brand Differentiation Dissected

What’s the difference? The point of difference, that is. In the realm of brand creation and evaluation, that is a critical question.
So much so that at Landor Associates, a leading branding firm, differentiation is the first of four criteria used to evaluate brand power. The three other pillars of Landor’s BrandAsset Valuator, a comprehensive brand evaluation database, are relevance, esteem and knowledge. Taken together, differentiation and relevance scores provide a gauge of brand strength in the Landor model, and esteem and knowledge represent brand stature, explains Russ Meyer, chief strategy officer at the San Francisco office of Landor Associates.
“What the [BrandAsset Valuator] study has told us over the last 13 years,” explains Meyer, “is that differentiation is the first to build and the first to decline — so is an indicator of future success and future possible problems.
Differentiation is also the most closely correlated [of the four pillars] with the ability to charge a premium or a higher margin,” he continues.
Brand differentiation is important, but difficult to maintain, Meyer says, given the nature of today’s marketplace. He cites the Reese’s brand, with a differentiation score of 84 as an example of a “highly differentiated” brand.
He adds that the real goal for a brand should be “relevant differentiation,” which is not just being different, but having a point of difference that is important to the target customer.