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  • Writer's pictureOli Shawyer

Brand matters... so much (Part 2)

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

The previous post elevated the commercial reality and opportunity of having a strong and well managed brand. Hopefully it provided some handy data to load up the 'please sir, can I have some more' budget negotiations.

It also touched on that if you're not investing in being different and distinctive, you're staring down the barrel of sameness. And no one has ever advocated 'sameness' as a winning strategy.

Of recent times, a lot has been said about 'differentiation' and whether there's any value in setting out to be different because it's borderline impossible to actually be different in any given market. At the same time, the rise of being distinctive and immediately recognisable is more valuable for driving selection given it's become more understood that consumers rarely have time to think about most purchases and hence being front-of-mind is invaluable in helping remove the pain of choice (and mental exhaustion of it).

And both are right and wrong. I'm from the school of thought that both are equally important and that being different from others, whilst being recognisably ‘you’, works.

Again, to elevate my point using evidence, there are many definitive, bottom-line reasons to why living it consistently and visibly is so important, particularly when pursuing growth (with another thanks to BBH's Tom Roach):

  1. Being seen as different can drive brand value: Over a three-year period from 2015-2017, brands that were perceived to be both highly disruptive and different increased in brand value by 28%, whereas brands that were perceived as both low in disruption and differentiation declined by -5%.

  2. Being seen as different can predict sales growth: Brands which people score strongly for both meaning and difference grow sales around 8.2% better in the following year than brands which score poorly, with difference being responsible for at least 50% of the predictive power.

  3. People will pay a premium for brands they think are different: An analysis of actual prices paid (from the loyalty card data of 2400 shoppers for 79 brands) showed that shoppers paid 22% more for brands they find different and meaningful vs those they didn’t, with difference alone accounting for 40% of this on average.

  4. Ads that make brands seem different are more likely to drive sales: The top 1/3 ads for ‘make the brand seem really different’ in Kantar’s Link database achieve +90% vs the bottom 1/3 on Kantar’s measure of an ad’s likelihood to drive short-term sales.

  5. Distinctiveness is highly memorable: In 1933 psychologist Hedwig von Restorff showed that distinctiveness drives memorability, giving her name to the ‘Von Restorff Effect’ (aka the ‘The Distinctiveness Effect’ and the ‘The Isolation Effect‘), which predicts that when multiple similar things are presented, the one that differs from the rest is more likely to be remembered.

  6. Distinctive, highly creative advertising slogans are more memorable: Research into the von Restorff effect in creative advertising found that highly distinctive ad slogans are much more likely to be recalled, but only if they’re judged to be high quality and not if they’re substandard. The slogan ‘The beer that made Milwaukee jealous’ was remembered by 85% in the study but the marginally more distinctive but substandard slogan, ‘Ya hoo, that’s some brew’, was only remembered by 45%.

  7. Distinctive brand assets drive ad recognition: Advertising featuring known distinctive brand assets achieved an average +34% higher advertising recognition.

  8. Distinctive brand campaigns are more profitable: ‘Distinctive brand campaigns’ featuring recognisable brand ideas and assets achieved a +62% stronger short-term profit ROI vs campaigns which didn’t in an analysis of 1300 campaigns by Ebiquity.

  9. Distinctive ads correlate with sales growth: Audi’s measure of the distinctiveness of their advertising correlates with increased media-driven sales (relative to total volume sales) between 2015-2017. Audi has also found that when an ad has strong cut-through, it is three times more efficient at driving orders.

For sports practitioners managing a sports club, proper work needs to be done to define how you are, or could be different, whilst being consistently recognisable in everything you do. Doing so requires you to pose and work to answer the following questions as an Administration:

  • What type of brand are you?

  • What are your Brand Values? What will be the values held dear for this brand? What do you want to stand for in dealings with everyone? What do you genuinely (and can consistently) believe in?

  • What are your Brand Attributes? What will the words that all stakeholders use to describe the brand? What are the things you will be famous for? Functional and or emotive.

  • What is your Brand Purpose? Why do you do what you do? What role do you play in people’s lives and what would happen if you ceased to exist? Would it matter?

  • What is your Brand Personality?

  • What are the Benefits (tangible, intangible) that you deliver?

Unpacking, interrogating and aligning on the answers to these questions as an aligned and connected Administration is vital to determining how your brand could (should) be different and distinctive.

Plug alert.

If you want to ask and answer these questions with rigorous and guiding facilitation, knowing that doing so alone will likely result in a frustrating (and likely losing) battle within the echo-chamber, I could not recommend reaching out to Branded Culture's Greg Kavanagh more highly.

Read Part 3 here.


  1. Kantar, BrandZ, 2017.

  2. Admap April 2017, ‘Establish KPIs that grow brand equity’, Josh Samuel, Kantar’.

  3. Kantar Millward Brown R&D study: Shopcom and FlyBuys loyalty card data merged with equity survey responses at respondent level.

  4. Kantar analysis of the Link Database. Short-term Sales Likelihood (STSL) is a measure that is strongly predictive of sales shares increases.

  5. von Restorff, H. (1933). Über die Wirkung von Bereichsbildung im Spurenfeld [On the effects of the formation of a structure in the trace field]. Psychologische Forschung, 18, 299–342.

  6. Pick, D. F., Sweeney, J., & Clay, J. A. (1991). Creative advertising and the von Restorff effect. Psychological Reports, 69(3), 923-926.

  7. Data shared in the WARC webinar ‘Brand Assets as a Source of Strength’, Jenni Romaniuk, 2014.

  8. Ebiquity analysis from IPA Effectiveness silver award winner ‘Rembrandt in the attic’ by BBH/Weetabix/Ebiquity.

  9. Kantar Media Millward Brown Audi Advertising Distinctiveness Index.


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