From the outset, the first rule of brand management has been ‘differentiate or die’ and Asset Managers are no exception, spending vast sums of money to find a unique brand benefit, brand essence, brand purpose – whatever is the most fashionable.
However, differentiation is hard because very rarely are Asset Managers meaningfully differentiated in their products and investment approach. Plus, owning a space in the mind of Investment Professionals often fails because brand narratives end up in Pyramids or 20 page brand books that basically leave a mess.
There is now a mountain of evidence that challenges the power of differentiation* which goes so far to say that distinctiveness not differentiation is the driving force for brand success.
What's the difference?
According to Mark Ritson**, when a brand is distinctive it looks like itself and ‘jumps out’ at the audience and when a brand is differentiated it successfully convinces people that its offer is significantly different to those of the competition on a range of intended associations or attributes.
Top thought #1:
Aim for both, be distinctive and differentiated with more of an emphasis on distinctiveness because the competition for sales in the Asset Management sector is one of mental availability – that crucial point when Investment Professionals don’t just see you, they think about you when they come to buy.
Approach brand thinking with a heavy dose of realism – what do you want Investment Professionals to think about when they think about your brand and what ‘fluent assets’ will you deploy to be distinctive – ideally both should work together in perfect harmony.
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*How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp and Marketing Week (Mark Ritson)
**Mark Ritson, Marketing Week, Distinctiveness doesn’t need to come at the cost of Differentiation