Dancing to the beat of the branding drum

Most companies try to differentiate themselves from their competitors. However, this can be difficult to achieve, particularly in commodity markets where it is hard to isolate added value from one supplier over another. In markets with complex offerings – such as in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) – it is easy to bamboozle and confuse customers with techno-speak, or instead talk in terms of ‘better, faster, cheaper..’ customer benefits, which can quickly bring us back to the ‘me too’ commodity issue. For that reason, effective differentiation needs to satisfy three factors: be unique, be credible, and be valued by customers.

At the same time, according to the director of my local school, my daughter and her friends will retain only 20% of what they have heard and only 30% of what they have seen, and so their chances of remembering the relevant material long enough to pass a school test, rises to 50% when they have both seen and heard the material in different forms. And although figures vary from study to study, retention rates can rise to 70% when people vocalize the material themselves, and even as much as 90% when they have directly experienced the topic themselves.

While a classroom quite literally has a ‘captive audience,’ businesses need to compete with all manner of obstacles to achieve anything like these levels of retention, although the principle applies equally to organizational communication and branding.  If you really want to get your brand values and corporate messages across, you are more likely to achieve your goal by appealing to several of the senses. That’s why, as a founding director of sonic branding company, Sound Strategies, I was thrilled to see, feel, and hear how OnPR client, Fujitsu, opened its annual customer event in Munich earlier this month, Fujitsu Forum.

31612_Fujitsu_Forum_2013_____Impressions_scrIt wasn’t simply that this leading international ICT company had imported a traditional Taiko drum ensemble from Japan where the company was founded over 75 years ago, thought this was both unique and credible to Fujitsu and immediately grabbed the audience’s attention. Rather, the four drummers were joined on stage by a fifth team member that appealed to the eyes rather than the ears – a dynamically evolving network of shapes dancing to the beat of the drum.  Importantly, the composition was designed to help communicate and reinforce Fujitsu’s brand vision of a Human Centric Intelligent Society – the subject of the keynote which followed – in terms that will be valued by customers once it has had time to fully develop.

I look forward to watching how Fujitsu’s efforts to differentiate itself in this complex and competitive market take shape!

Ronna Porter

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