A common advice to brands is to make remarkable products and services. Marketing & advertising is then tasked with ‘story telling’ that resonates. If only it worked like that in real life. Most products & services fulfil basic necessities of consumers and have very little scope to have truly differentiated product features.In his book ‘This is marketing’ Seth Godin outlines these steps:
A majority of world’s brands would fail in the first step itself. I doubt if a floor cleaner, toothpaste, clothing brand, airline or even a B2B tech services company have ‘invented a thing worth making’. Most often marketing & advertising come into the picture after the product or service has been defined and created. Even if marketing is part of a new creation, very rarely is a brand born with out-of-the-world, never before product features. Yes, a differentiator is sought to be imbued – it could be an ingredient, a service offering to fulfil a market need, a refreshing positioning and so on. Often such differentiators are marginal and can be easily copied. So a lot of pressure is placed on the positioning and more so, on its expression through advertising and other content assets.
A deodorant or a confectionery brand has very little scope to be truly remarkable in terms of product features. Yet, Old Spice, Snickers and Skittles have managed to create an affinity purely through their positioning (best in-between-meals hunger buster for Snickers) and its creative expression (‘you are not you when you are hungry’). Story telling has become the fancy word and an expectation from every brand – be it a B2B corporate brand or a consumer good. Again, not every brand has a story to tell that is relevant and beneficial to the end customer. That again puts a lot of pressure on the execution.
In the end, as Ed McCabe said, “creativity is one of the last remaining legal ways of gaining an unfair advantage over the competition.”. It is not big data, a product feature or brand purpose.