Many clients approach us with what are essentially commodity products or services, necessary and/or useful, but not obviously different from other products or services already on the market.

As one of the first steps in a branding strategy is to come up with points of differentiation for the value proposition, commodity products and services are certainly more challenging, but by no means impossible. Starbucks is a great example of a company which very successfully branded a commodity product.

To turn ordinary into extraordinary, dig a little deeper for unique attributes – a few suggestions:

  • History – an existing story about the company, the founders, the process, etc. can be a strong base for an emotional connection to the brand
  • New story – stories about the the experience of using the product or service; what was the impact?
  • Narrow your target market – focus on the needs of a specific segment of the market and be THE solution for them
  • Create a new product category – Nike did this well, creating a “running” shoe, instead of just an “athletic” shoe
  • Create a new need – Amazon has successfully done this multiple times, with Prime, same-day delivery, etc.
  • Make it pink – this was done literally for home insulation, but make the product look different through color, shape, packaging, etc.
  • Brand name/tagline – a brand name or tagline that disrupts the standard format in an industry
  • Perceived attributes – being “stronger”, “better”, “friendlier” or other perceived attributes are not enough to build a brand on alone, but can be boosted with testimonials and combined with one or more of the other differentiating factors above