Branding: Disrupt and Differentiate

December 1, 2015



3 min read


Image credit: PixGood 


In a sea of brands, how do you differentiate and stand out? How do you distinguish yourself from copycats and clones? From the heroes to the wannabes? You have to put some effort in defining your unique position in the market, that is! You may say, "we've got awesome technology and we're innovative and have some badass practices!" That's great! In fact, absolutely crucial to have, however, that simply is not enough for most businesses. You need to have a "soul" and activate your brand manifesto through brand promise and overall brand characteristics. Here are the 4 superior branding traits that will make you have the competitive edge to disrupt and differentiate.   



1. You've got to be authentic

Be yourself and offer a company personality that no else in the industry can showcase. Stay true to your core values. This, and a combination of quality product or services and a unique value proposition will make customers be drawn to you and create loyalty as a result.


Case in point, Starbucks "Christmas Red Cup". It caused such an uproar and negative reactions by certain groups in North America but the brand remained undeterred and unwavered because they know their customers. They are not just an American brand, they are a global brand, therefore having a universal appeal is what the brand does best. Some missing white snow flakes does not change the spirit of the season nor change their brand values. And I..., I'm loving doodling on the plain red cups using my silver and gold Sharpies instead of just the black ones! Much more fun!  



2. You've got to be consistent

Start a conversation with your customers. And then keep talking to them. AND continue engaging them. Consistency can be accomplished through a cohesive brand look and feel of your marketing collaterals, curating relevant content, maintaining the frequency of which the content is served and choosing the right marketing channels to deliver them.


Nestle, Nike and Coca-Cola. Enough said, the mothership of brands! They are so consistent in their communications, that it has gotten them to where they are today. No doubt there were some mistakes and fumbles along they way (which brand doesn't have that?!) but the lesson here is to be consistent. There is a sense of trust and reliability when we speak and think about them, don't you think? Strive for that.



3. You've got to have purpose

What is your higher purpose and Why? If your answer is to make a difference or to make it easier or to revolutionize, save lives or make the world a better, happier place, then do it. The choice is yours. Differentiate your branding efforts with a clear cause.


Here's an example: Zappos, an American e-commerce company focused on "delivering happiness". Making every customer touchpoint experience absolutely delightful, they have not only managed to put customers in the heart of the "happiness" process, but also their employees, colleagues and vendors. The CEO believes a group of happy people will create great work and will continue to inspire each other and the community they live in, which will then drive the change they hope to achieve in the world. They consistently drive their business with that purpose. 



4. You've got to walk the talk

Now, quit talking and act on it. 

  1. Get to know your customers and deliver your brand, product and services to the right target audience.

  2. Casting the net too wide will create wastage so do some data mining, create segmentation and targeted marketing.

  3. Test and test based on some realistic assumptions. Let your customers confirm your minimum viable product (MVP). What you think your customers want or need, may not be what they want so testing will be a good way to determine what you can improve on.

  4. Build a predictive modeling to automate some of your efforts. Look into customer lifetime value and measure it.

  5. And then respond or pivot with speed and agility while keeping to your authencity, consistency and purpose as outlined above.


There are many ways to activate your branding and marketing initiatives. Look into solutions with the best cost that will have the highest impact to your goals. Create a timeframe where you will test your MVP, and from there move on to a bigger and full fledged stage to activate more channels. If time is not on your side, and testing may not be feasible, (I have been through a few of those situations myself), starting small and then increase the efforts over time will be a worthwhile move.


Conduct a post mortem analysis on your campaigns - big and small, and use those statistics as your benchmark for your upcoming campaigns. Over time, you will have some pretty decent numbers to work on and to further refine your activation efforts. Don't forget to inject some "soul" into it, don't give your branding team such a hard time about being the gatekeeper of "branding guidelines" (someone's gotta do the job!) and in no time, you'll be disrupting and differentiating yourself in the market.


An oldie but a goodie from the bad boy rapper EMINEM, I just have to say this: 

"Will the real slim shady please stand up?" It's time to tell the world, who you truly are.



This blog piece is part 2 to BRANDING. If you missed part 1, click here.








M Consulting, the branding and marketing strategy development and activation consultancy was founded by Mawarni Adam, an award winning marketer with over 13 years of experience in branding and integrated marketing across multiple industries in the ASEAN region. It is her passion in building, revamping, turning around a portfolio, leading change and breathing new life into stagnant business situations that propelled her to establish her own marketing consultancy. Helping others make a positive difference in their businesses excites her. Her direct experience in the Subscription Video-On-Demand, Airline, Insurance, Loyalty, E-commerce, Banking, Venture Capital and Advertising industries, will bring an integrated perspective and valuable marketing input, strategy development and execution to any business. 


Read more about Mawarni here: About M



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