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Enablers and Differentiators: Where do You Spend Your Time and Money?

Posted on: 18 November '10

I am in London this week, after almost 8 months. It is one of my favorite places to visit in the world. This morning, I took the Picadilly Line to the Jubilee Line, and then walked along the Thames River towards London Bridge to attend Forrester’s EMEA Sourcing and Vendor Management Forum. Suffice it to say, there are worse ways to start one’s day.

During this commute, I read an article in the Metro newspaper about the most influential British brands. The list was compiled by TLG which produces their ranking annually. Technology giants APPLE, Google top the list, with retailer John Lewis in third place. Rounding out the top five are Amazon and Facebook. Interestingly, the Top 5 ranking is the same in the U.S.; except in third place, discount airliner Southwest Airlines replaces John Lewis. (a side note: I am old enough to remember that top brand listings were dominated by companies such as AT&T, General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Sears to name a few.)

This had me thinking about what makes a brand influential. According to TLG Founder Malcolm Gooderham, brand influence goes beyond the products or services that these companies provide. Equally important, it also has to do with how these companies do business. These companies apparently have done something that Mitchell Habib, COO of The Nielsen Company, spoke about during his keynote address at the aforementioned Forrester EMEA Sourcing and Vendor Management Forum. That is, these companies have all successfully outsourced all the parts of the operations that enable them to be successful. The top brands focus their attention on what their clients truly value and are willing to pay a premium for-their differentiators. These differentiators are what make the brand experience memorable and influential for all top brands.

Does your company focus on its enablers or its differentiators? How much of your time and marketing spend is allocated toward the same?

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  • Zeal Somani

    I chanced upon your post while I was perusing MindTree’s website. Just before reading your post, I was reading about the revamped logo that Airtel- one of the telecom providers in India launched. Branding has been one of my favorite topics in the school and the post was a thought pusher

    According to me, the “differentiator” is what the mass will relates to. In an age where internet has shortened the boundaries, the economy has been globalized, the customer who is the king has an access to enormous resources. The competition is so huge and fierce that your today’s niche is definitely not going to remain with you forever and is certainly going to be cheaply mass produced by some Chinese!(no offense to the Chinese economy) Hence the only way to remain and win the competition is through the experience that the customer will receive by using your product/service. The key is to keep the customer satisfied and happy.

    And, I see this in almost every sector. For eg: the telecom sector in India. I have never seen such a humongous number of service providers in any country. The technology used by each one of them is nearly same. Hence,majority of their budget goes in “branding” the experience. Airtel recently launches a new logo just before its 3G services.It also refreshed it signature tune by A R Rahman. It was to signify the experience and loyalty of its 2000 crore customers. It could have had spend that amount in new technologies or could have launched its 3g services early.Similarly in the early 2000, when Reliance entered the telecom market, they completely changed the market. Agree, they launched a new technology of CDMA, but majority of the market was captured by marketing campaigns of making the cell phone accessible to the most common man. The service was not upto the mark but it did capture a good share.

    So majorly, I find that companies spend/allocate much of their resources in creating that unique experience/diferentiator to relate with the brand.


  • Zeal: Thanks for reading. I define differentiator as something that a person is willing to pay a premium for; or perceived value. You are right, for most of us the target audience we are after is beset with many alternatives. Those who can differentiate through this clutter win.

  • Geetha Chandar

    Dear Joe,

    Wishing you a ‘harvest’ of Imagination, Action and Joy! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and all the MindTree Minds!



  • Thanks for the well wishes Geetha.