Differentiating: Building a standout brand
Marketing Ideas & Sales & Marketing for Professional Services & Strategy & Value Proposition

Differentiating: Building a standout brand

May 30, 2016

By Tony Vidler

differentiationThere are notable differences between high growth professional firms and others when it comes to differentiating themselves.  How they choose to express their value and stand out is actually different to the mainstream.


Being different is of course the point of trying to differentiate.  Undoubtedly the average or low growth firms inability to express what their difference is in relation to the bulk of the market is symptomatic of a wider lack of innovation or marketing ability within their firms, which in itself would contribute to them being ordinary performers commercially.


Those that do manage to differentiate in the target markets mind do so by building and expressing a value proposition which resonates.  Typically that value proposition will in the first instance be something which can be evidenced.  They can prove what they are promising.  THAT is a pretty powerful position to start with. Things that firms can build a differentiation strategy around which are provable might include:

  • awards
  • qualifications
  • reputation or referability
  • specialist services or knowledge areas
  • convenience
  • service standards


These are all areas where the firm can accurately evidence any claims they make, and as such a consumer will perceive them as less risky, or perhaps a better fit for purpose.


Contrast these areas with the wishy-washy marketing lines and supposed value propositions which prevail in professional services that are often rooted in irrelevance.  I say “irrelevant” because they are usually areas which a consumer has every right to expect is simply the norm for all service providers in that profession.  For example:

  • honesty/integrity
  • culture
  • licensing/regulatory status
  • personalised advice


Differentiating by saying “we are trustworthy, and fully licensed, and our advice to you is personal” is not marketing in any meaningful manner as far as any consumer is concerned.  Such a claim should, to the discerning client, apply to all practitioners in the market.  Therefore it becomes irrelevant from a marketing perspective.


Professionals who are looking to differentiate, without being irrelevant, but who are struggling to figure out their point of difference and promise to the market can begin to build a standout brand by focussing upon those things which they can prove.  At the very least it removes risk for potential clients, which helps them move closer to choosing you.


You might also be interested in this related article:

How to build a Value Proposition that works

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