The Key to Brand Growth? Be Distinctive.

Here at MERGE, we work on many challenger brands that are trying to grow against larger competitors.

PUBLISHED: 12/10/2019

As an agency that is deeply rooted in the belief that data can drive insight, we help clients focus on some of the key tenets explained in Byron Sharp’s 2010 book, “How Brand’s Grow”. Sharp basically debunked many of the traditionally-held views on marketing and based his book on empirical data. Stuff we love here at MERGE, both data and simplicity. And since nobody has time to read (that’s supported by data too, by the way), we made a short list of key takeaways from Sharp’s book that we use almost every day to guide our thinking.


#1: Want to grow your brand? Focus on growing penetration and the total number of users who use your brand.

If you have a good product, all you need to do is to get it in the hands of those who will find it valuable. I know, I know…what about my current customers? Isn’t it easier to keep them? Well, let’s go to our next fact from Sharp’s book…


#2: Your consumers don’t love your brand as much as you think they do.

Consumers shop around. Keep your focus on getting more into the bucket. Sure, we all love the brands we work on and truly believe they’re the best in their category. But ask  yourself, how many brands in your life are you absolutely/positively in love with and would NEVER switch to another brand?


#3: Differentiation is dead. It's about being distinctive.

There are too many products options out there to really be different. Instead, focus on distinction. I once worked on one of the largest packaged goods companies in the world, and will never forget the wisdom the CEO delivered to us as we prepared to start the New Year without investing in new advertising. As we had felt the advertising we had inherited was not worth backing up with media dollars. Upon learning of our decision not to run advertising messaging we felt was subpar, the CEO said “bad breath is better than no breath, so please run the old advertising”. Think about that, there are plenty of advertising campaigns that are just flat out bad and uninspiring, yet distinctive. You may never purchase that product, but you are aware of it. And who knows, some day you actually may decide to try it out.


#4: Make it easy for consumers to remember you.

Again, because consumers are not in love with our brands the way we are, you need to make it easy to remember your brand. Visual cues such as icons, logos and symbols make it easy for consumers to recall your brand. Don’t get too caught up in small things nobody is going to remember anyway.


Want to grow your brand? Focus on.. getting more users to try your product, be distinctive, not necessarily different, and make sure you stand out. Contact us at MERGE, we can help you... and get yourself a copy of Byron Sharp’s Book, How Brands Grow.