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What makes a brand distinctive in today’s competitive environment?

A brand’s logo used to be the most important part of any visual communication, sitting loud and proud, glossy and badge-like, reassuring consumers at every turn. However I’m not so sure that this holds true today. It seems a brand’s ability to stand out from the crowd now is all about being multi-faceted, a story that builds through layers with an ownable tone of voice and unique brand assets.

So what’s changed?

Big brands could once rely on a large swathe of middle-class consumers looking for perceived quality over value. Today this mass of consumers doesn’t exist with consumer segments more fragmented more than ever before. Budget savvy is no longer for those on low incomes, it’s for the smarter shopper with their eye firmly on the value for money equation. With Lidl and Aldi now an established and growing part of our supermarket landscape, consumers are shopping around for their own quality benchmark, but at a lower cost. And those with more disposable income combine budget basics with specialist shopping, where they are not only looking for higher quality but also product knowledge and an engaging experience.

So it seems not only the landscape has changed but also how consumers are shopping has changed. With consumers focussed on budget, mindful since the GFC, we are seeing the two ends of the scale performing well, discount brands and top-end brands, leaving those brands in the middle squeezed, both across retail and in supermarkets.

Agile, compelling brands
So previously where big brands have dominated, now is the time of the small brand. Australia has a strong culture of supporting small businesses and with it’s proximity to Asia, brands can enjoy success at home and internationally. With some of these smaller brand owner-operators outsourcing production, keeping overheads low and not investing in R&D their success lies in being agile, innovative and building compelling brand assets.

The take away
So to stand out in the crowd today, brands can no longer just rely on a big shiny logo. They need to focus on what makes them unique and tell their story through their brand assets. And whilst this all sounds pretty straightforward, nailing the execution and giving consumers an emotional take out is only part of creating a distinctive brand.

 

Claire Riley
Founder & Strategy Directory, The Mill Brand Design Agency, Melbourne

Contact Claire if you would like to take advantage of her 20 plus years in the branding and packaging industry. With experience in the UK and Australia working on consumer goods brands, from cheese to gin and everything in between, Claire is passionate about creating unique brand assets that tell stories and increase the bottom line.

 

Rob Riley