Saturday, January 5, 2008

Building a Charismatic Brand: Part 1 > Differentiate

What is a charismatic brand? It's any product, service, or company for which people believe there's no substitute. Charismatic brands have a clear competitive stance, a sense of rectitude and a dedication to aesthetics. Why aesthetics? Because it's the language of feeling, and in a society that's information-rich and time-poor, people value feeling more than information. In this series we will discuss the five disciplines (differentiation, collaboration, innovation, validation, and cultivation) of branding that must be mastered in order to have a charismatic brand.


This is the process of setting your company, your product, or your service apart from the rest of the pack.

  • Begin building your brand with three questions: Who are we? What do we do? Why does it matter?

  • Our brains filter out irrelevant information, letting in only what's different and useful. Tell me again, why does your product matter?

  • Differentiation has evolved from a focus on "what it is" to "what it does" to "how you'll feel" to "who you are." While features, benefits, and prices are still important to people, experience and personal identity are even more important.

  • As globalism removes barriers, people erect new ones. They create and gravitate toward smaller worlds--"tribal units"--they can understand and participate in. Brand names occupy and govern different spaces within these tribes.

  • Become the number one or number two leader in your tribal space. If you can't obtain either position, redefine your space or move to a different tribe.

Differentiation to collaboration to innovation to validation to cultivation, back to differentiation. Each lap around the branding circle takes the brand further from being a listing of commodities and closer to being a force to be reckoned with.*

*Source: Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap (Berkeley: New Riders Publishing, 2003).

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