12 Powerful Differentiation Strategy Examples For Brand Positioning

So, you’re putting a brand together and doing it right.

You’re developing a strategic brand and you need a differentiation strategy to differentiate your brand from the swarms of other brands all offering similar products or services to you right?

Here’s the thing…

Finding a unique differentiator is a creative game and you need to get your mind thinking outside the box in order to find one that is unique enough for your brand to stand out.

So to get those creative juices flowing, here are 12 unique differentiation strategy examples.

See if you can take inspiration and apply any of these ideas (with a twist of course) to your industry.

Examples Of Brand Differentiation[The Video Breakdown]

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Differentiation Strategy Example #1:

differentiation strategy huawei

Strategic Approach: Low Cost Option

Huawai entered the market as an unknown low-cost mobile technology brand.

This differentiation strategy focused on producing high quality products at a low-cost to the consumer.

Offering their customers a low-cost alternative to Samsung and Apple helped them to carve out a position in the mind of their audience and establish themselves in the industry.

Although Huawai has gone on to steal marketshare from the two biggest players in the Smartphone market through their product innovation, the low-quality stigma of a low-priced product has been difficult to shake. (So if you use lower cost as your differentiation strategy, have a long term plan).

Can you offer your audience a low-cost option?

Differentiation Strategy Example #2:
Whole Foods

differentiation strategy whole foods

Strategic Approach: Niche Down On Scale

Niching down doesn’t mean you can’t become a big brand.

Whole Foods are the undisputed heavy weight champions of the organic and natural food market.

Of all the differentiation strategy examples listed, this one is available to almost all brands.

Although there were many small stores providing organic and natural food options to that market segment, there was a gap wide open for a brand to come in and offer such a service on scale (in the mould of traditional grocery store chains).

Having been acquired by Amazon for $13.7 Billion, Whole Foods now operate with an economic moat around their differentiation strategy, which allows them to dominate due to scale.

Can you niche down and make a unique offering?

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Differentiation Strategy Example #3:
Build-A-Bear Workshop

differentiation strategy build a bear

Strategic Approach: Unique Point Of Purchase Experience

Ordering cuddly toys online wasn’t exactly new when Build-A-Bear Workshop was born.

But a twist on the purchasing experience and the end-product result catapulted them to stardom.

By providing customers with the ability to modify and personalise their cuddly toys, they made their products a little bit more special in the eyes of their end users and of course their parents.

Can you do something different to enhance the experience?

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Differentiation Stratregy Example #4:

differentiation strategy mailchimp

Strategic Approach: Simplify The Brand

Mailchimp had already established itself with broad brand awareness by being one of the first user-friendly email marketing software options.

However, after a sharp jump in competitive brands offering the same, they rebranded.

While most of the other differentiation strategy examples were born during the brand development stage, this example was introduced well after the brand had established itself.

In a sea on corporate blue and complicated competitors, Mailchimp went against the grain with their bright, simple and quirky illustrations and overly simple language and tone to give newbie entrepreneurs an obvious choice for their first email software.

Can you unclutter your industry by simplifying?

Differentiation Strategy Example #5:
Paul Smith

differentiation strategy paul smith

Strategic Approach: Use Origin or Heritage

Paul Smith is a well-known Mens designer brand in London.

Paul Smith himself, is a very proud Brit and was even Knighted by queen Elizabeth II in 2000.

The brand proudly promotes it’s London origin by using the British flag throughout their product line, which is associated with tradition and style providing a sense of security and trust.

Can you leverage heritage or origin to build trust?

Differentiation Strategy Example #6:

differentiation strategy tyson

Strategic Approach: Rename A Category

Offering your customer an innovative product is a simple suggestion, but not always possible.

What is most certainly possible is how you name that product.

When one of the world’s largest processors of meat in the world, Tyson Foods, began selling chickens that were smaller than the average chicken, they had a choice.

Sell them as “small chickens” or come up with a new name, and so “Cornish Game Hens” were born.

Can you ruffle the feathers in your market with a bold new category name?

Differentiation Strategy Example #7:

differentiation strategy virgin

Strategic Approach: Break The Rules

Virgin is a global brand providing services from air travel to financial planning.

This branded house has brands operating in completely different industries with completely different “Standards”, “Industry Norms” or “Best Practices”.

Across all of Virgins’ Brands their differentiation strategy is aligned from one brand to the next, all the way up to their infamous founder Richard Branson.

They take a different approach, challenge the status quo or just ignore it altogether.

This has been the philosophy of the Virgin Brand since their first record store and remains a consistent thread throughout their overarching brand strategy.

Can you be the rebel in your space to do things differently?

Differentiation Strategy Example #8:

differentiation strategy zappos

Strategic Approach: Show Them Love

Zappos goes above and beyond for their customers and this is a great differentiator for brands in crowded marketplaces or with low budgets.

Exceeding expectations and over delivering on customer service, whatever your line of work, is one of the most effective and rewarding ways to differentiate.

Zappos commands a premium price tier because of their outstanding customer service, including free shipping and free returns.

One Zappos’ customer service reps holds the world record for longest customer service call clocking 10 hours 51 minutes. (Though I’d be inclined to think there was more than just customer service going on).

How can you authentically show you care?

Differentiation Strategy Example #9:
Dollar Shave Club

8. Dollar Shave Club - Brand Positioning and Personality

Strategic Approach: Take On The Giant

There are many differentiation strategy examples, but none quite like the Dollar Shave Club.

Dollar Shave Club broke into the market as an unknown start-up on the Mens Razor Blade market.

With a $5,000 investment from their founder, they created a cheaply produced highly satirical ad that spoke directly to their customer’s personality and pain-point.

They pointed the finger at the market leader Gillette, for their overpriced blades with unnecessary features and challenged men to rethink their shaving habits (and not have the wool pulled over their eyes – something men don’t tend to take lightly).

Their straight talking, logical and humorous approach made a noise to the tune of $1bn, which Unilever bought them for just five years later.

Can you point the finger at a competitor (or a group of competitors) for what they’re doing wrong?

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Differentiation Strategy Example #10:
Warby Parker

13. Warby Parker - Positioning, Messaging, Personality, Mission

Strategic Approach: Benefit With Authentic Purpose

I don’t believe an authentic purpose on its own is enough to differentiate a brand from its competitors.

TOMS did it effectively, though they were one of the pioneers.

Warby Parker however, didn’t just come to the table with a feel good factor of purpose.

They took on a faceless giant brand (Lexington) who controlled 80% of the market, to offer stylish designer glasses as a fraction of the price.

Breaking that monopoly while giving back to those in need, warmed Warby to the hearts of their new customers.

Can you bundle up your unique value with an aligned purpose?

Differentiation Strategy Example #11:

differentiation strategy coke

Strategic Approach: Align With A Moment or A Feeling

No brand owns a feeling better than Coke.

They seem to own your annual happy moments from your summer holidays to Christmas.

Coke’s entire positioning strategy is based around the emotion of â€śHappiness” and they remind you to “Enjoy A Coke” in every beautiful destination in the world, at every time of year.

When we think of coke, we (consciously or subconsciously) think of happy times.

Can you identify a moment of feeling your audience loves to align your brand to?

Differentiation Strategy Example #12:

differentiation strategy geico

Strategic Approach: Lighten Up Your Industry

Geico operates in an industry that doesn’t get anyone off their seats with excitement.

The insurance industry is awash with blue tone brands speaking in corporate monotone language.

These brands are everywhere and their approach only succeeds in making their audience feel even more uncomfortable about buying insurance than they already did.

Geico goes against the grain and lightens the mood with a funny looking talking gecko and a fun and light-hearted communication strategy.

Though some consumers will want the companies the deal with around money and security to remain corporate and serious, many don’t.

Geico provides a stand-out option for that exact group.

Can you target a segment of your audience more specifically to be more relevant to what they want?


When it comes to developing a brand strategy, there is no element throughout the entire brand development process that is more critical than the differentiation strategy.

A good differentiation strategy isn’t sitting out in the open waiting to be found.

They’re hiding and can only be found with creative thinking.

This doesn’t mean differentiators are difficult or complicated.

In fact, the best differentiators are often difficult to see because they’re staring right at you.

So put your thinking hat on and find a unique differentiator for your brand.

Which of the above examples was the most inspirational and did any spark an idea?

Let me know in the comments Right Now!

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  1. This was such a great article, thanks Steve, my brand really aims to be different though love and authentic partnerships with my clients, this really opens up more options to further explore I have a real passion for strategic thinking.

  2. Thank you so much Steve. What an informative and educational article. These examples are truly inspirational and show that strategic thinking is critical for a brand to exist.

  3. While I haven’t tried StitchFix personally (they just recently launched an offering for men), many of the women in my life swear by the service, giving me an inside look into their positioning strategy. They’re a subscription service at their core, but they’ve sewn in a unique differentiator unusual to the subscription model they assign you a personal stylist who curates your look based on your preferences and feedback over time. This personal touch adds immense value to their service, providing people who may dread shopping with a little wardrobe angel on their shoulder.

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