Mark Ritson wrote a Marketing Week article titled Distinctiveness doesn’t need to come at the cost of differentiation.

« The story of differentiation and its more superficial, extrovert cousin called distinctiveness is one of the most interesting and important in branding right now.  »

« Marketers continue to confuse these two terms, but in essence, the two concepts are simple to separate. When a brand is distinctive it looks like itself and ‘jumps out’ at the consumer when they encounter it or consider a purchase. When a brand is differentiated it successfully convinces consumers that its offer is significantly different to those of the competition on a range of intended associations or attributes.  »

« Traditionally we saw brand awareness as simply a gateway variable and then spent all our time worrying about brand image. By putting their empirical fingers on the scales and re-weighting the value of awareness and the power of salience, Ehrenberg-Bass has changed branding theory forever. While I am convinced they have gone too far in belittling differentiation to promote the power of distinctiveness, the power of distinctiveness cannot be denied. »

« As a crude estimate I would suggest we used to think it was 20% awareness and 80% image, these days anyone with a brain has generally reversed those ratios. »

« I do not believe is USPs—they are usually bullshit and even when they are not, they can be quickly replicated. »

« Assume you have achieved brand salience, what do you want the consumer to think when they think about your brand? Write it down. There is your brand positioning. »

« In short, I think the work on distinctiveness is a revelation and an important course correction for those of us who were sold on the dreams of USPs and attribute ownership. But a smart marketer can also enjoy the benefits of a distinctive brand and a realistically differentiated one too. The challenge comes down to making choices and being clear on what you want to position a brand on and which codes you intended to make distinctively yours. As usual, if you need more than a page to articulate this combined strategy, something has gone very, very wrong. »

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