Energy Is a Powerful Brand Differentiator

The energy level in Toronto is off the charts! It’s Raptors mania, and everyone — even non-basketball fans — is caught up in the excitement. People are wearing jerseys to work, and it’s the topic of every water cooler conversation.

The Raptor’s brand is on fire!

This is the power of “brand energy.” It’s a visceral, emotional feeling towards a brand. What’s going on in the NBA finals is an extreme example. It’s the first time Toronto has ever made it to the finals, and the fans are pumped. But all brands are dependent on energy.

Energy is the great differentiator. Brands that have energy, stand out. Brands lacking energy are heading for the graveyard.

David Aaker writes in Brand Relevance, “A graveyard brand is one the customer has heard of and probably is very familiar with but one that is not recalled easily and cannot get into the consideration act.”

Lacking energy is the scariest place for any brand, because it leads to indifference. Being loved or hated requires energy, but indifference is emotionless. Your brand can exist, but nobody cares.

Gene Simmons, front man for the band KISS, said, “People either love KISS or hate us with all of their guts, and that’s the way we like it.” That’s a commitment to energy. For almost 50 years, KISS has kept its brand relevant by constantly infusing it with energy.

John Gerzema and Ed Lebar call this concept “energized differentiation.” In their book, The Brand Bubble, they write, “The most successful brands today — including Adidas and iPhone and Pixar and Wikipedia — resonate with consumers in a special way: They communicate excitement, dynamism, and creativity in ways that the vast majority of brands do not.”

They continue, “By focusing on these attributes, marketers can keep their brands constantly moving and gaining value. In a world of excess capacity and diminishing trust, creating these kinds of energy-infused brands can help companies reinvigorate their brand management practices.”

Why does this matter for you and I? Energy differentiates your brand.

For most of us, we are not going to create new categories, sub-categories, or industries. We’re not going to invent the next iPhone, or create a toy fad like L.O.L Dolls. (This children’s toy sold 2.5 million units within five months of its launch!).

Instead, you and I are competing in established markets serving customers with defined needs. Why a customer chooses your brand over the competition will have less to do with features and benefits, and more to do with the perceived energy of your brand:

  • Is your brand more interesting than the competition?
  • Are your products and services more relevant?
  • Is your brand more visible?

The nice thing is that the answers to all of these questions are within your control. You have the power to increase the visibility, relevance, and excitement around your business.

Brand energy is created in three areas:

  • Market: How do you increase the volume and visibility of your brand in your target market? This might be through more publicity and marketing, or through sponsorships and events.
  • Products: How do you create and deliver a better product or service at a better price? You’re not going to win by copying the big guys, so innovate. Find better ways to meet the needs of your clients.
  • Culture: How do you improve the people, culture, and creativity of your organization? All brands are built by people, and an energized team can be visible for all to see.

There are lots of ways you can energize your brand, and it doesn’t require tons of money and resources. What it does require is strategy. Like starting a campfire, you need to focus your resources and efforts in a few key areas to ignite a flame so that it can turn into a roaring fire.

When your brand generates abundant energy it can become irresistible. It draws attention and creates engagement. This is a powerful competitive advantage that you can translate into more sales, more profit, and more customer loyalty.