MARKETING EVOLUTION Choosing To Stand Out By Marion Wakahe F or me, the word differentiation brings to mind images of either fruits, mannequins or bulbs arranged in rows and columns, all similar with the one that stands out. So, if for example the mannequins are all grey there is this one red mannequin in the group emphasizing that it’s different, unique and outstanding. It could also be the lit light bulb or it could be the orange among apples… You get the drift. from being eaten. Let’s not forget the famous ‘Purple Cow,’ a book written by Seth Godin filled with business cases of the unique things that some companies have done in order to differentiate themselves. The book’s cover is differentiated by the way. Basically, in order to survive in the market, you’d have to differentiate every function that goes into the creation of products and services as well as the products and services themselves. That’s certainly not easy to do. It requires lots of resources in the form of creativity, money, research, amongst others. As the word suggests, differentiation is about creating and communicating unique attributes of a product or service, not easily imitated and that’s valued by the user of the product or service. In the wild, it makes sense to lay low and not stand out because in doing so the animal (prey) protects itself from attack and ultimately In the marketing wild however, the case is different. In essence the goal is to get noticed and to get ‘eaten.’ If products on shelves could speak they’d shout, “See me, pick me and then consume me!” Of course products don’t speak but marketers have found ways to get them to communicate and it’s generally in the packaging and the communications about the product. The premise of differentiation has gained popularity so much in the recent past, that now even people are thinking of how they can differentiate themselves especially in the workplace/corporate world. Myriads of books have been written on the subject Marketing departments in different organizations are coming up with clever channels to ensure that they keep abreast with their competitor’s latest ac- tivities, but the question remains who should they be studying? Who defines the path of growth of a corporate or an individual brand? Is it the compe- tition or the brand itself? 74 MAL25/18 ISSUE of self-branding. Interesting though, I thought the fact that each of us has a unique thumb print and DNA code was enough… Differentiation is critical, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would argue against it. In spite of that, in actual sense it really is hard to differentiate because we build our products much in line with who we are, and we are social creatures with a deep innate need to fit in. We want to conform and be part of the group. From days in school, a good number of us can relate with stories of how we were different and how that became a source for teasing and in some cases bullying. Something as simple as being one who enjoyed reading books aka ‘bookworm’ as compared to being outdoors could get a child in trouble with peers. Seth Godin in his book speaks of the purple cow as being ‘remarkable’. Remarkable is defined as worthy of note or attention especially for being unusual or extraordinary. A purple cow stands out; you’ll pick it very easily in a herd. The opposite of remarkable according to him is not ‘bad’ or ‘poorly done,’ it is ‘very good.’ A very good product ideally should be picked out from the shelf.