By Ken Gasque

What makes your product different in a meaningful way? It is a question that is not easily answered. Before we go on, try answering it. What makes your product different in a meaningful way?

Well, how did you do?

I have met numerous business owners who are quick to answer: “We have great people.” “We exceed expectations.” “We produce the best quality.”

There is nothing distinctive here, no differentiation. Any business can (and does) make these same claims.

What is your story, why are you different? Why do you do what you do that makes you different. What is your ‘why’? Steve Jobs, Apple Computer CEO and Co-founder, wanted to make a difference in the world (yes, an audacious goal) but he did in fact change the world. Your ‘why’ might not be as grandiose as Steve Jobs’ but it is still just as important. Why are you doing what you do? So, answer this question… What is it that we do that no one else does?

Think branding.

A logo is not a brand but all brands have logos. A name is not a brand but all brands have names. A brand is an experience. It may be an experience that has grown over time. There are a lot of advertisers, media reps, and sales managers that will tell you they don’t want to brand; they want to sell a product. They get upset with ‘white space’ in their ads or open space on their website (white space and open space are design elements that are often confused with branding—wasted space). Some marketers and sales people rant about not ‘calling for the order’ or ‘closing the sale’ often enough. They want to be continually selling. They feel that spending ad dollars on ‘branding’ is a waste. And they always want to make the logo bigger (I have no idea how making the logo bigger increases sales).

What is the difference between Burger King and McDonald’s (other than the silly king caricature)? Burger King has never been able to come close to McDonald’s in sales. They both sell the same products. They have access to the same ad agencies and marketing people. What is the difference? Think branding.

The difference is Burger King sells products and McDonald’s sells an experience (a brand is an experience). McDonald’s branding strategy is to sell to children, McDonald’s has nurtured children for years to enhance their experience to create emotional bonds and experiences that will last for a lifetime.

The difference is Burger King is about $27 billion behind McDonald’s in annual sales.

What was the McDonald’s difference when Ray Kroc took over? As stated on McDonald’s website —Our History—A Unique Philosophy—says it very clearly…“Ray Kroc wanted to build a restaurant system that would be famous for providing food of consistently high quality and uniform methods of preparation. He wanted to serve burgers, fries and beverages that tasted just the same in Alaska as they did in Alabama.”

“To achieve this, he chose a unique path: persuading both franchisees and suppliers to buy into his vision, working not for McDonald’s but for themselves, together with McDonald’s. He promoted the slogan, “In business for yourself, but not by yourself.” His philosophy was based on the simple principle of a 3-legged stool: one leg was McDonald’s franchisees; the second, McDonald’s suppliers; and the third, McDonald’s employees. The stool was only as strong as the three legs that formed its foundation.

“If I had a brick for every time I’ve repeated the phrase Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value, I think I’d probably be able to bridge the Atlantic Ocean with them.” – Ray Kroc

Branding makes a difference.

A brand is not a logo. It is not a color. It is not white space. A brand is an experience. If you do not have a brand, the easiest way to begin creating a brand is through design. Design creates emotions and experience. And as I always say, “We buy with our eyes!

Advertise, it pays!

About Ken Gasque. Ken Gasque is a brand developer, marketing planner and designer who believes if you help people get what they want you will get what you want. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on his experiences developing brands (good and bad). www.gasque.com