The Power of Being Different, Meaningful, and Salient
Anoop C A
by Anoop C A

The Power of Being Different, Meaningful, and Salient

Marketers, over decades, have debated the secret to marketing success. While many assert that differentiation is the key, others believe that salience is critical. On the contrary, a significant group believes great marketing builds positive consumer sentiment by offering meaningful brand promises. 

With more than a decade of experience in the field of branding, what I gathered is that relevance is one of the fundamentals of marketing. With “relevance,” what I call being is “meaningfully different.” Although relevance does not only mean being relevant enough to be worthy of a customer’s loyalty. It also means to be “different” to attain that status. 

Adding to that, being “meaningfully different” is not a business school concept. It primarily refers to organizational and brand success. It is about being able to solve a problem that is critical to a customer better than anyone else can. Whether it is businesses, brands, or organizations that a achieve position in the market only because they can find a loophole in the market that must be addressed or a problem that must be solved and they do it better than their competition that makes it stand out, that makes it worthwhile. 

The Proof and Characteristics of a Successful Brand:

It is almost a necessity that successful brands are meaningful, different, and salient. So, what are the characteristics of a successful brand?

Well, the most successful and the strongest of brands do not depend on just being meaningful, different, or salient. These three qualities must be weaved into it- together and seamlessly. Surveys have revealed that brands that are meaningful, different, and salient derive three times more of the volume from the strength of the brand, compared to other factors like availability and promotions compared to brands with low meaning, difference, and salience. 

Although similar, consumers feel warmer to one and not so much to the other, probably because of the taste.
That is what makes a brand meaningful, and successful in the long run

To achieve these three characteristics of a successful brand, the two most crucial aspects of it are to: 

  • Understand consumer’s brain
  • Observe consumer behaviour 

Understanding Consumer Brain

Successful brands that are meaningful, different, and salient, maximize the power of marketing by understanding how these brand qualities act on the minds of consumers that affect purchase decisions. On the other hand, it is easier to understand the effect of salience. Salience gives a brand an advantage due to the habitual nature of much human behaviour. While shopping, consumers depend greatly on mental shortcuts or heuristics when they make their brand decisions. One of these heuristics is to assign importance to things that have ready mental availability, which in effect makes consumers choose the most salient brand. 

The role of brand meaning when comes to consumer decision-making is a little more complex. This is because it involves cognition and effects. This is because it can be measured how meaningful brands are by using some simple and direct questions to consumers such as, how the brand makes you feel, how well it satisfies your needs, etc can be used to summarize the overall impact of functional feelings and associations on brand decisions. Questions such as these are used to measure and define how meaningful a brand is.

The difference between brands is one of the most overlooked characteristics. Differentiation is delivering a brand property that others do not deliver and that effect is the same as delivering a brand property better than the competitors. Experiments on behavioural psychology have revealed that when similar alternatives compete against each other, they become less attractive, while if one stands out from the rest, even if the difference is not that meaningful, that option becomes more attractive.

Observing Consumer Behaviour

Characteristics of successful brands on human decision-making underline the importance of meaningful difference and salience. But the question arises, are these quantifiable based on consumer purchase volume and price paid? Surveys helped identify ways to measure how meaningful, different, and salient brands are and confirmed that these are the three most important characteristics of brand influences on purchase behaviour. Each of these three qualities contributes differently based on whether they are being looked at in terms of purchase volume or price paid. For instance, in order to drive volume, it is most important for the brand to be first meaningful and then salient. The difference is slightly less important. Furthermore, being meaningful helps justify the price premium. 

So, to conclude, while all these three characteristics are crucial, the exact proportions vary on the category the brand falls under and quantifying this helps focus marketing efforts and that further determines the importance of a brand to be meaningful, different, and salient.