Airlines, give up safety.
Banks, forgo stability.
Hospitals, turn your backs on compassion.
These are not the essences of your brands.
Marketers often find brand-essence discovery processes difficult and even painful, because they are forced to look beyond some of their most beloved brand attributes.
The reason? These attributes are table stakes, the minimum requirements to enter the brand category. They buy a seat, but they don’t win any hands.
Consumers expect hospitals, for example, to be compassionate. Saying “we care,” or even “we care more,” just doesn’t resonate. It doesn’t provide a basis for choice.
Without compassion, a hospital would fold in the face of competition. Similarly, unstable and failed Wall Street banks have contributed to the recent rise in popularity of community banks. Stability is a requirement to play.
Attributes such as reputable, honest and trusted are typically perceived of every legitimate brand in a category. They are not unique. There is a difference between being good at something consumers expect from the category — and being good at something the competition is not.
Only through differentiation do brands raise the stakes.