Branding Bullshit: Differentiate or Die
In order to stand out in the market,  you must give customers a compelling reason to buy your brand,  or you will die.   If you don’t, branding “gurus” Donald Miller, Simon Sinek, and Marty Neumeier will come and murder you.

Why It's Bullsh*t
The logic goes something like this:  If, you can target a narrow customer base with a conceptual reason to identify with your brand,   Then, those customers will become loyal, and promote your brand to all their friends.  Skip differentiation and you will die. Prioritize it, and you will grow.

If this logic were true, the following statements would also have to be true:  1. Customers perceive  conceptual differentiation.  2. Successful brands have different customer bases than their competitors, since they are targeting different customer bases.  3. Brands grow by prioritizing heavy buyers and loyal customers.
Customers rarely perceive conceptual  differentiation in the first place.
Byron Sharp - Ehrenberg-Bass Institute
Byron Sharp - Ehrenberg-Bass Institute
Successful brands share customer bases, regardless of conceptual differentiation.
Byron Sharp - Ehrenberg-Bass Institute
Brands grow by prioritizing light buyers over heavy buyers and loyal customers.
100% loyalty to a single brand is rare, and almost exclusively found in very light buyers of a category.
New buyers and light buyers are far more valuable for long-term growth than heavy buyers
Negative Binomial Distribution Curve
Negative Binomial Distribution Curve
Negative Binomial Distribution Curve
Negative Binomial Distribution Curve
Let’s recap.
Light buyers will be your workhorses for long-term growth.  With a highly differentiated brand,  you turn more light buyers off. Tab learned this the hard way, and turned off half the world in men.   Until recently, Tab was still around as  a niche brand.9
Are you satisfied with being the next Tab? Fine. Growth isn’t the only measure of success that matters.  Want to be the next Diet Coke?  Stop obsessing about differentiation, customer personas, or customer loyalty.   Be as easy to buy,  for as many people as possible,  in as many buying situations as possible.

REFERENCES

[1] https://www.amazon.com/How-Brands-Grow-What-Marketers/dp/1511383933

[2] Evidence Concerning the Importance of Perceived Brand Differentiation - Romanuik, Jenni, Byron Sharp, and Andrew Ehrenberg (2007)

[3] Psychological and Objective Factors in the Prediction of Brand Choice: Ford versus Chevrolet - F.B. Evans 1959

[4] Towards an Integrated Theory of Consumer Behavior - Ehrenberg, A. S.C. 1996

[5] https://investor.harley-davidson.com/accelerated-strategy

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/1982/07/09/business/advertising-diet-coke-prepares-its-debut.html

[7] https://mumbrella.com.au/the-unbearable-lightness-of-buying-as-told-by-an-old-jar-of-pesto-550525

[8] Category and Brand Purchase Rates (Still) Follow the NBD Distribution - John Dawes, Giang Trinh 2017

[9] https://us.coca-cola.com/tab

DON'T FALL FOR IT.

Customers don’t fall in love with brands, Mission Statements don’t inspire action, and traditional advertising is not dead.

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