In a recent article we raised the importance of your brand's point of difference. This is important because your difference makes your brand unique and provides you with a competitive advantage over other brands in the same sector.
When thinking about how we position our organisation or brand within a sector, it is easy to race to determine points of difference. However, points of difference are only one leg of a three-legged stool. The other two essential legs are points of parity and points of compromise.
Make sure you have parity
Points of parity are elements considered essential for your brand to be regarded as a legitimate competitor in your area . These differences enable customers or clients to consider your brand along with your competitors . They answer your client's question: Why not consider your brand in the mix with other brands in the same sector?
There is no point in having a strong difference if customers do not include your brand in their considerations. For example, consumers generally will not consider a bank a "bank" unless it offers a range of checking and savings plans, safety deposit boxes, traveller's checks, ATM access, and other such services that other banks provide . If your "bank" does not offer the same services as other banks, it does not have parity with other banks and is unlikely to be considered.
Therefore, before considering your competitive advantage, it is essential to ensure you have identified what makes you a player in a particular field and ensure you have these points covered .
An example is Apple and Samsung. Samsung phones were good at design; however, Apple had set the benchmark of design parity of smartphones. Samsung had to position its brand and communications to get its design on par with Apple before they could begin to emphasise their point of difference . Unless parity is achieved, the points of difference make no difference.
Parity allows you to demonstrate you are as good as your competitors. Once you can prove you are as good as them, you can focus on your differences.
Focusing on your points of difference
How to determine your points of difference?
Recently we left you with several questions to help you think about your points of difference. These were:
We deliver ……….benefits to clients.
We solve ………….problems for clients.
We sell to…………?
Hopefully, these questions have started you thinking about points of difference. Another way to determine your difference is to think about what is desirable for your clients. Desirability in this context has to do with relevance. Your brand is attractive to your clients because it is relevant to them. Secondly, what is deliverable by your brand. There is no point in advertising the relevance of your brand or company if you cannot deliver to your clients. Your point of difference is providing what is desirable for clients distinctively and differently from your competitors  in a seamless way that gives your clients a positive experience.
Do I need to think about compromising?
We usually think of compromising as a negative; however, sometimes compromising can effectively target niche markets. Nintendo is a brand that has demonstrated an ability to use points of compromise effectively. Nintendo outpaced competitors by compromising on the latest technology and high-end graphics to keep their prices low, add more points of difference and reach new audiences .
While we do not want to compromise on the relevance of our brand to clients, nor on how we deliver our services and products, there may be markets where compromising will allow us to gain a competitive advantage and establish our brand authentically and credibly.
We started a previous article by asking how much space your business or your brand occupies in the minds of clients? This question is crucial to consider because the more space you occupy, the more recognisable your brand is to your clients and the more your brand is differentiated from competitors leading to better client engagement.
To be recognisable, to engage more effectively, you need to consider all three points. Your points of parity will ensure your clients consider your brand. Your points of difference will ensure your desirability, and there may be points of compromise that allow you to consolidate your brand to clients.