Remember the scene below from the movie Rush Hour released in 1998 by New Line Cinema starring Jackie Chan (Lee) and Chris Tucker (Carter). The conversation goes:
Carter: That’s why I don’t have a partner, that’s one thing I learnt from my dad.
Lee: Your father was a policeman?
Carter: Fifteen years LAPD.
Lee: My daddy was also a policeman.
Carter: Your daddy was a cop?
Lee: Not a cop, an officer; a legend all over Hong Kong.
Carter: My daddy a legend too all over America. My daddy once arrested 15 people one night all by himself.
Lee: My daddy arrested 25 people by himself.
Carter: My daddy once saved five crackheads from a burning building, by himself.
Lee: My daddy once caught a bullet with his bare hands….
Well, some of the facts are exaggerated and only a superhero/shero can catch a bullet with a bare hand. The great lesson not to be missed in this exchange, however, is that both men speak highly of their fathers and reveal to us how their dads were a cut above the rest. One can even be tempted to think Carter’s father was better than Lee’s and vice versa.
I am certain you will agree with me that what makes you stand out is certainly not something that the next person has or does. If a lot of people happen to do a similar thing, then you are surely as average as everyone. The same concept applies to brands. We should not only recognise Brand A as different from Brand B through the logo but it should also be way more than that where products and services are distinct. If the opposite exists, then you are just average and there is nothing unique about your brand. The banking industry is notorious for this, and our clients tell us all the time that we are all similar. Meanwhile, in the boardrooms executives and managers alike firmly believe their brand is ahead of the pack. The real focus should be about how, as banking brands, the perceptions of our customers see us as being totally different from our competitors.
Another aspect to deal with is the fact that in banking, even if you strive to stay ahead of the pack through innovation and responding to the needs of the market by introducing fresh and new products, someone is bound to copy what you do and introduce a similar product. It has been like that for centuries, a clear game of chess moves and countermoves, your bubble does not stay in the air for long before it gets busted. My submission is that indeed Customer Value Propositions (CVP) are always a good start and a business should have that. Clearly communicate what you offer to your clients, the entire package. But will this be enough? Can it support the strategic intent of a business?
We are unfortunately now in era where a customer value proposition is not enough. A brand must be better than others or at least be known for something it does better than its competitors. You can have a banking brand being known for innovation, best bank for corporate clients, the best in service, or the go-to-bank for SMEs. These brand associations should not be taken lightly because they are the actual uniqueness required.
For a brand to stand out, your products must be different, the pricing structure must be different, the way they are distributed to clients should be different and the service should be different. This is the actual Unique Selling Proposition (USP). USP is a factor or a couple of factors that are presented by a brand as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.
A brand ought to have the ability to at least pinpoint what makes their business unique in a world of homogeneous competitors. If you can’t do this, no USP exists. You may have a CVP but not uniqueness. Similarly, customers are always looking for something fresh. That is the very reason why there is a lot of excitement and customers switch over most of the time when a brand hits the market. Over time the excitement dies down with realisation that there is nothing different about that new entrant.
But if that new entrant remains true to the promise made and continues offering something new and fresh to clients, its customer acquisitions and retention efforts yield better results. Even for brands that are already in the market, there is an absolute need to continue innovating and revamping the existing products and services. That way, new players in the market can be dealt with easily by remaining unique.
LinkedIn: Gomolemo Kololo Manake