Competition is all around you. Whether you own a brick and mortar storefront or sell your products online, there’s a good chance your industry or niche is already saturated with other businesses offering similar products and services.

What makes your brand unique?

Consumers value products for many different reasons. To be able to successfully stand out from your competitors and effectively market your offerings, you need to understand the critical role branding plays in the decision making process of your customers and be able to clearly articulate your brand across each and every touchpoint.

Where Marketing and Branding Usually Falls Short

As part of our discovery process with new and prospective clients, we ask business owners and internal marketing staff to talk about their brand and their business in their own words. In almost every case, what they say is completely different than what’s being reflected in their website content, brochures, etc. Their marketing might be descriptive, but it stops short of creating an experience. They don’t talk about their process and their products in a way that helps differentiate them from other “like” products in the marketplace and reinforces any real or perceived value.

We don’t respond to things as we see them or feel them or hear them. Rather our responses condition on our beliefs about what they really are, where they came from, what they’re made of, and what their hidden nature is.

Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at Yale University

Branding Can’t be an Afterthought

What that means for business owners is your branding can’t be an afterthought. You might think your products are so good that they speak for themselves but from our work with clients, that’s almost never the case.

Everything from the images you select to the quality and depth of your product descriptions directly relate to the critical importance of our beliefs as consumers referenced by Professor Bloom. You can’t assume consumers will automatically know what goes into making your products or, if so, will be able to automatically appreciate their value. It’s up to you to use your marketing as an opportunity to create an exceptional customer experience—to articulate those points of differentiation.

The best way to generate demand or any offering is with an experience so engaging customers can’t help but spend their time with you. And then spend their money as a result by buying your offerings.

Joseph Pine, Co-Author of the book The Experience Economy

What makes your brand truly different from your closest competitors? Do you know? When it comes to marketing, it’s one of the biggest questions you have to answer. In fact, it’s absolutely critical to your success.

Thanks to ecommerce, social media, and mobile, today’s connected consumers have an infinite number of places they can spend their money. The companies that invest in their brands and are willing to spend the extra time creating exceptional experiences are the ones that will be able to realize the most value.

Where to Start

We’re always searching for marketing insights that will help you grow your business. Over the weekend, there was a great episode on the TED Radio Hour titled “Brand Over Brain” which served as part of the inspiration for this article. In particular, we highly recommend the segments with Paul Bloom on “Why We Like What We Like,” and Rory Sutherland on “What’s the Difference Between Real and Perceived Value.” We highlighted some of our key takeaways above but we hope you’ll also give those two segments a listen. Both programs run approximately 25 minutes total and are well worth the time.

If you’re looking for a specific example of how branding can create real and measurable value be sure to check out Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery’s branding. They were one of the businesses mentioned in the segment with Paul Bloom.

Everything about their brand, their website, and their marketing content creates an experience. Look at the design of their labels. The content they use in their product descriptions. For example, they talk about adding a splash of Kentucky limestone well-water when they empty the barrels for bottling and how that makes the whiskey really smooth. Without those little touches you might think it was mass produced or not be willing to pay a much higher price.