When you launch or relaunch a product, you’re telling a story. And what’s the backbone of a good story? Conflict! So the question is, where’s the conflict in your story? Where’s the tension that makes people care about what you’ve got to say? The answer may be what we’ll call a Brandtagonist.
It happens all the time when we’re downloading with a client. The question comes up, “How is your offering different from the competition?” What we get is a bullet-point list of features and benefits. This thing, that thing, the other thing.
The problem is, if you’re trying to differentiate through feature/benefits comparisons alone, you don’t stand apart from the crowd in a meaningful or memorable way. Your competitors have compelling features to talk about too.
To generate real differentiation, your story needs drama. Even if you’re in what might be seen as a dry, technical, or intrinsically undramatic—okay, let’s just say it—boring— category. Especially then.
To create drama, you need conflict. And one way to infuse conflict into your brand story is to reimagine your competition in the form of a Brandtagonist.
Keep in mind this is drama, not melodrama. It’s not about good and evil—usually—and your Brandtagonist isn’t the enemy. It’s the opposing force that you’re up against. Brandtagonists can be competitive brands, technologies, ways of doing things, attitudes—any of which can serve as a foil for your own approach.
Here are some recurring scenarios:
- David vs. Goliath: An established competitor owns significant market share, but has gotten complacent and stopped innovating. You have a big idea, with energy and motivation on your side.
- Innovation vs. Inertia: A group of competitors have similar features and benefits, and the market is comfortable with their tried-and-true formula. However, your offering not only solves the old problem better, it addresses new issues, and does it in a novel way.
- Real vs. Fake: Competitors took a patently wrong approach, resulting in an incomplete answer to a persistent customer problem, thus not really solving it. That leaves the door open for your better-performing product to win.
As you can see, it’s all about the vs. When you position the opposition Brandtagonistically, you create the opportunity to present memorable brand contrast.
It’s easier for your audience to say yes when they align with what you represent. In other words, help them take sides: