As a strategist and content marketeer (yes, that spelling is intentional), I’ve always searched for the B.I.G. Diff in the brands I’ve been involved with – the one (or more) thing(s) that differentiate one brand from the next and leads to competitive advantage.
Yet this article, and the book How Brands Grow referenced therein, challenges the validity of a differentiation approach to business/marketing, suggesting that being interesting may be the better way to go. You could, of course, argue that being interesting is, in itself, a form of differentiation. But at a strategic level this “interesting” approach accepts that fundamental organizational differentiation is a) extremely difficult to do at best, and b) at worst has little effect when achieved at all. This leaves the ability to differentiate-by-being-interesting as an executional challenge for “marketers”, not a strategic one for “business people” (both are in quotes because clearly they’re not exclusive, although many tend to think they are).
I’m still not completely convinced. Harvard’s Youngme Moon has published the book Different that supports the idea of differentiation and I’ve clung to the mantra of strategic differentiation for too long and with too tight a grip – but it’s an interesting proposition and one that small business (or any business for that matter) should consider.
At least until their source of differentiation is uncovered and my resolve returns.