differentiator

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Brand positioning tip #12: don’t get hung up on the words


When it comes to positioning terminology, I sometimes get questions like “what is the difference between a brand mantra and a brand essence?” or “is a point of difference the same thing as a key differentiator?”

My answer? Don’t get hung up on the words… it’s the concepts that matter.

I have standard terminology I use for brand positioning projects, which you can read more about in my Brand Positioning Tips. I picked up most of these terms from Dr. Kevin Keller, one of the world’s foremost brand positioning experts, and the brand positioning guru we used for a lot of our Red Hat positioning work.

Kevin uses terms like point of parity, point of difference, competitive frame of reference, and brand mantra to describe his positioning process. I like these terms and they have become comfortable for me to use in my positioning work.

But often, I’ll be working with a client who approaches positioning from a slightly different point of view. Perhaps they’ll talk about what I call a brand audit as a brand diagnostic or they’ll refer to the brand mantra as the brand essence.

When working with clients on positioning projects, I operate using the when in Rome principle. I use their words instead of mine. Why? Because they are just words, after all.

What really matters is whether we agree on what the heart and soul of the brand is and what makes it different from other similar brands.

Using Kevin Keller’s terminology to describe your brand positioning won’t automatically make it good brand positioning, and some of the best-positioned brands I have ever seen were probably developed by people who had never heard of a point of parity.

So use whatever words you like as long as you understand the concepts.

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