Caring as a Brand Differentiator

Positioning a brand is one of the most important strategies a marketer must devise. Communicating a brand’s real, relevant difference compared to competition can be the difference between being a “me too” brand and a category leader. This point is touched on in the book Brand Against The Machine by John Morgan. One particular differentiation strategy is recommended that is so simple yet often not practiced: Demonstrate that you care.

Can caring really be utilized as a positioning strategy? Of course businesses care about their customers, or they will not be in business for long! But, as you and I know there are often breakdowns in execution of customer-focused marketing plans and strategies. Great customer service programs are little more than empty promises to customers who experience poor service quality.

A few months ago, we replaced a heater/air conditioner in our home. The company we called, Hiller Plumbing, has a great reputation for customer service. In fact, it won recognition from the Nashville Business Journal as a Best in Business firm in 2011. My wife talked with the manager about the company winning the award. His response was that for a company in that industry to be recognized for its performance is significant because the reputation of the category as a whole is not very positive. Winning recognition in a competition with businesses from a wide range of product and service categories was an even greater testament to Hiller’s differentiation as customer oriented. The key to Hiller’s success is that employees from top management to front-line service personnel show genuine concern for customers.

Many aspects of marketing are hard, but caring should not be one of them! One of the most frequent comments I hear from students who have been in my classes is that they appreciate that I show concern for them. It is surprising to me that they do not experience caring from all faculty members, but like customer service in general, knowing to do the right thing does not translate into actually doing things right.

Be different- care. Reflect on what you can do to demonstrate more concern for customers; then empower employees to deliver. They will be heroes, and your brand will stand out.

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