How to Cut Through the Clutter and Make Your Brand Stand Out

How to Cut Through the Clutter and Make Your Brand Stand Out

By Vox

How many ads do you think you see on any given day? 50? 100? 1,000? In actuality, experts say, it can be up to 5,000.

Consider your commute to work with billboards, business signs and radio commercials. Or imagine the time you spend in a doctor’s waiting room flipping through magazines filled with full-page perfume ads, product placements, celebrity-endorsements and product reviews.

Brand logos and messages are coming at you from all directions, but can you remember five brands that you saw advertised today? If you can, there are reasons why those brands stick out to you.

Look familiar?

Successful brand building includes a number of marketing strategies that set a product or service apart from the rest. Duane Knapp’s book “The Brand Mindset” illustrates a brand-building concept called D.R.E.A.M, which stands for Differentiation, Relevance, Esteem, Awareness and Mind’s eye. Described as a “prescription for understanding, building, and sustaining brand equity,” the principle applies to most any brand, company or individual and can be used throughout a brand’s lifetime to maintain and enhance its presence. Here’s how the acronym breaks down:

  • Differentiation is the positioning of a brand or product to take on responsibility for a specific audience (e.g., A Hooters burger might be promoted alongside a scantly clad young woman garnering a primarily male audience, whereas a Gourmet Burger might highlight its European cheeses, which appeal to a foodie-focused audience.)
  • Relevance is how applicable a brand or product is to consumers’ lives. Products of higher quality and value than other comparable products in the same marketplace are more relevant (e.g., Ziploc airs commercials illustrating a variety of uses for its product, positioning itself as a relevant purchase belonging in one’s kitchen, whereas an off-brand plastic bag may not use advertisement, making it less recognizable and of less value).
  • Esteem is how the brand or product is positioned in the minds of consumers. Consumers’ trust and admiration of a brand can be low or high, depending on the nature of the product (e.g., Toyota is a brand that may be held in much lower esteem than Volvo due to Toyota’s recent recalls).
  • Awareness is the way a brand or product communicates how it is differentiated from other brands or products (e.g., Starbucks communicates its implementation of free WiFi in its cafés using a variety of media channels, including social media, whereas a small bistro that uses fair-trade coffee beans may advertise its offerings in a locally published magazine).
  • Mind’s Eye is the positioning of a brand or product in consumers’ minds based on perceived emotions and functionality (e.g., Tiger Woods’ recent scandal positions him as disloyal in the minds of many women, whereas is a trusted, well-liked brand as evidenced by its recent ranking as the top-performing brand in America).

Can you think of a well-known brand that hits the mark in each of these categories? How about one that needs improvement in one or all of these areas? By looking at brands in the context of Knapp’s D.R.E.A.M criteria, you can understand more about how brands differ from one another and what makes some brands more memorable than others. In many ways, it all comes down to gauging a brand or product from the perspective of the consumer.

How does your brand stack up to the others around it when you look at it in these terms? Is your product or brand one that consumers will remember at the end of the day?

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