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Standing out & why in pays to be kind

Being different makes a big difference

It is sometimes the case that the biggest, most valuable brands simply tick along from year to year, growing just a little, while smaller, more agile brands deliver the fastest rates of growth. This is not the case in Spain, however, where the Top 15 brands in the ranking have risen in value in the past year by 2 percent (adding an average of $100 million to their value), while the next 15 have, on average, declined by 7 percent (or $44 million).

Why is this? Because what sets the brands in the top half of the Top 30 apart from the others is they massively outperform other Spanish brands on the measure of “difference”. That means brands are seen as distinct from other brands in their category. It’s usually closely tied to being “meaningful” as well; being seen as different is only a benefit for a brand if it’s different in a way that’s seen as positive – its point of difference makes a positive difference to people’s lives.

BrandZ research shows that when a brand is seen as different, consumers sit up and take notice. It encourages people to believe that it’s a “brand of the future”, and they see this as a good reason to either try or stick with the brand – they feel others will too, and that’s reassuring.

Being different leads consumers to believe a brand is important, and there’s a strong link between brands that are different and those seen as being most successful. In fact, success leads to a brand being seen as even more different, and the cycle continues.

The value of difference

Brands that score well for difference are generally worth much more than those that don’t – and they grow at a faster rate.

In the Spanish Top 30 this year, high-difference brands have grown by 6 percent, and the low-difference brands have declined in value to the tune of 5 percent. We count a score as high if it’s an index score of 110 or more when compared to an average of 100 for all brands, and a low score is 90 or below.

How to create difference

Difference can manifest itself in several ways, and brands can work on developing any – or all – of them if they want to stand out in consumers’ minds and reap the rewards.

Being unique is one aspect of difference, which means offering something in a product, service or, increasingly, in the brand experience, that no other player in the category provides. This could be the spec of camera in a mobile phone, the styling in a car, the delivery and returns promises of a retailer, or the availability of round-the-clock help for a financial services provider.

Among the Top 30 brands this year, the leading names in consumers’ minds for uniqueness are: Repsol, Mercadona, Iberia and Antena 3. These four brands, from four very different categories, show it’s possible to be unique in any sector.

Another key aspect of difference is being seen as “leading the way”. Again, Repsol, Mercadona, Antena 3 and Iberia are the best performers from the Top 30 brands, along with Mahou and Zara. They signal to consumers where the rest of the category – and other consumers – are likely to follow.

Looking different – with a distinctive appearance in a logo, in advertising, in stores/branches or via staff – is another way for brands to stand out, and it’s the same group of brands in Spain that also excel in this area.

These brands are great examples of effective marketing – having a clear and consistent brand identity and positioning, communicating this clearly, and keeping it contemporary and relevant. They find a place in consumers’ minds – and on their shopping lists – by achieving greater fame. They are seen as successful, which makes consumers more likely to trust and then buy them, and they have a good corporate reputation.

Why it pays to be kind

Another way a brand can stand out in its category is by building a strong corporate reputation. 

This means a business and its brand have a strong personality that makes it feel to consumers like it has leadership qualities: wisdom and power, with a degree of kindness and responsibility.

Corporate strength and responsibility can create for a brand a sense of “difference” that gives consumers a reason to choose one brand over another

And in Spain, kindness and responsibility are especially important.

Big brands, big hearts

BrandZ analysis of the Top 30 brands’ personality traits shows there is a strong positive correlation between how kind a brand is perceived to be and the rate at which it has grown over the past year. Good deeds don’t just make people feel good, they have a powerful effect on the brands behind them.