The Money’s In The Difference!


Ed Roach

In my line of work you get to have a lot of fun working with companies. They come my way sort of lost. Many have achieved impressive success but feel that they can do better and feel that something is missing. While others are absolute start-ups and want to hit the ground running. What is typical in almost every case is the fact that they never considered positioning themselves from a point of differentiation. They all want to go to market with a laundry list of services and shout out that they do everything. Since this is what ‘most’ businesses do, it hardly appears wrong at first glance. But what is also noteworthy is the fact that this type of approach garners no emotion but a resignation to market. Marketing is seen as a necessary evil. They focus on catchy graphics, a visual hook. But, that will not really sell anything – it is simply eye candy. It is your position that counts – what compelling offer intrigues the reader to give you a few moments of their time to indulge you.

Many times eye candy is simply forgetable. How many ads have you seen where you remember the sweet spot but can not for the life of you, remember the pitch and certainly not the company. Not a great way to start off a brand relationship. Offering everything or God forbid copying the leader in your category just tosses your brand into a sea of sameness. You are awash in mediocrity.

Now – take a positioning strategy based on differentiation and watch your stake holders get excited by what they are shouting. When we develop this position they (the customer) are so pumped they can hardly wait to launch this new approach. WHY? – because they now have something to say. The message comes from they’re very core. It is a difference that makes sense, and one that they can build a relationship on. It is something the competition has failed to recognize and it becomes a lightening rod. Marketing is now exciting and they are invigorated.

Taking the effort to discover your difference, will rejuvenate your brand and this will generate income and inject excitement into your brand.


  1. So True!

    This is almost always the first thing I work through with a new client becuase having a clear, differentiated brand identity is the foundation for every other activity the business undertakes.

    As you correctly point out, having a real point of difference can get the stake holders excited about what they business is doing. Perhaps even more importantly, it gives the potential customer a reason to listen.

  2. nesh thompson says

    Spot on Ed,

    as always I enjoyed reading your article. With relation to what you are saying, I would be interested in your thoughts on over-differentiation. As someone who has come up through a design background, there is a danger of alienating yourself by changing for changes sake and risk alienating a public that is used to familiarity.

    Also, I wonder about companies that are hard placed to differentiate themselves. For example, a company that sells paper clips may not be any different from the next company. The eye candy, as you rightly say doesn’t mask the message behind the branding therefore a change in design isn’t going to mask the fact that in reality there isn’t that much to compare you to the next vendor.