Differentiate or Die

Charles Darwin wrote in his Evolution of species that genetic mutations allowed species to evolve. Those that evolved differently from their peers to adapt to the special conditions surrounding them won the survival race. Many brands today are fighting a similar survival for market share. Here is a quick look at why and how brands, especially corporates, can win the survival race.

Michael Jordan vs Vietnam

As an ardent socialist during my days at Mumbai University, I remember a debate where I had sprung an ace at my opponent. My question was supposed to be unassailable in a debate to prove the merits of socialism over capitalism. 

"How can Nike pay Michael Jordan more than the entire staff of the Vietnamese shoe factory?"
While I grinned confidently, my opponent answered smugly - "there are millions of Vietnamese workers ... But there's only ONE Michael Jordan". I learned the concept of diminishing marginal utility well that day. I also learned how we, in a capitalist society reward skills. Like the Vietnamese workers, many of the corporates and products are relegated to sphere of commodities, fighting for marginal cost and a bid to survive another month. Differentiation here was Michael Jordan's skill. For brands, it needs to be a unique and relevant position in the mind of the customer.

Differentiation for B2B

Many of the business promoters we have met of the last decade have heard us make this point and have reacted in a similar manner. "Branding is for products, and it needs a lot of marketing." Our submission is that a differentiated brand starts from the Corporate Level.

Why differentiate at a Corporate Level

  1. Attracting the right investors and business partners
  2. Attracting and retain best in class talent
  3. Using your differentiated corporate brand to help your new business divisions gain respectability and margin share faster than other competitors
  4. Leverage the social impact of your corporate while others only hawk products
  5. A distinct and different corporate brand becomes a rallying point and a biding agent for your stakeholders and helps drive a common vision and agenda
There are enough and more examples how differentiated corporate brands are able to straddle different business easily. One of our favorite corporate brands is Virgin. The company has been able to take the image of it brash, nonchalant explorer founder and use it to build diverse business across the sectors like airline, telecom and entertainment.Even the name suggested they are proud of not having baggage in any industry yet having the gumption to take on existing players.

Becoming the different Finch starts with You.

In Darwin's research, finches that has specialised beaks for coconuts did better than other finches on the island. While Finches may not be conscious about the process of evolution, as business owners and corporate managers,we need to be mindful of the need and power of differentiation. The quest for differentiation and survival start with your own conviction.

Devatanu Banerjee
Head - Integrated Corporate Practice 

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