My product: $299 electric sit-to-stand desk Customer: Gen Y Competition Branding image: Boring Question: How would you differentiate the brand?


First of all, you need to get really clear on who your actual customer is, and where they are. Are you actually selling direct to Gen Y (ie, internet, retail stores, etc) or is Gen Y your end user (ie, you're really selling to distributors or directly to corporations, site managers, HR professionals, ergonomics, etc)

Secondly, desks are boring, but workplace fitness and holistic wellness are en vogue right now. People are thinking about this stuff, hence the major success of Jawbone Up, Fitbit and Nike Fuelband.

If you are indeed selling to Gen Y directly, you're likely selling to someone who's a remote worker, an independent contractor, or entrepreneur-type. If they're a remote employee, there's a decent chance they're being given a furniture allowance to buy an office chair/desk, etc. That means they're using someone else's money.

You need a story around your desk. How does it fit into the Gen Y, self-employed, mobile lifestyle? Why is it more than just a desk? How did you create the desk with Gen Y in mind.

There's tons of fodder here for blog posts, product videos and even interviews with wellness professionals. It doesn't all have to be about the desk. It's about your story.

A perfect example of this is the BulletProof Exec, Dave Asprey.

This guy is making a fortune out of selling coffee and coconut oil and other wellness products. He's got a vivid story he's telling, gives away lots of great information, and most importantly, is helping people live the lifestyle they desire. They buy coffee from HIM, because he's earned their trust.

If people buy into the story, they're more likely to buy the product.

I question the price point a bit. A nagging question in the back of my mind is- how could this be a high quality electric sit/stand desk at $299? You're going to need to explain that to folks. (a "making of" video)

I think the average Gen Y professional will question the quality- especially given other sit/stand desks are $600-2500.

Again, it's less about differentiating from your competition, more about creating a story people connect with.

Answered 11 years ago

Target programmers. They spend the most hours than anyone else at their desks and most of them are already looking at alternatives.

Answered 11 years ago

Determine how your sit-to-stand desk makes the future of humanity better in a way that is different from your competitors. If it does, that's your brand. If it doesn't, dig deeper.

Answered 10 years ago

Hi there - thanks for asking this question! (I'm sorry I didn't see it sooner - but I hope this late answer adds something to your journey).

First off, about 2 years ago I was shopping for a sit-to-stand desk, and the only ones I found were in the $1,000 to $2,000 range, and offered either online or via Relax the Back stores in the US.

SO - 1st off, if the desk is decent quality and works well - I want to know more about it for myself!

Next, there are a # of ways to add value to your value proposition, or create something so compelling that it stands out completely from the crowd.

Color - think of what apple did with the iphone, but also look at what timberland is doing with their custom Boat Shoes - you pick a color and they build it to suit, with 3 or 4 colors per shoe (tongue, uppers, laces, etc). There is no push on quality besides the basic standard of excellence players like Sebago and Timberland offer in this space - but Timberland just differentiated themselves big time (I think J. Crew offers some custom shoe colors as well).

Packaging - check out a case of Diet Pepsi - and the accompanying ads to go with it. Have you noticed that now the plastic wrapper on a case has pictures of cans (stacked like they actually are inside) with names on them? Dad? Buddy? BFF? Rock Star? We have one in the office, and I keep walking by and reading it. If I'm in a beverage store and I walk by a plain case from another vendor and that one, I will definitely give it a second look. Dell has done the same thing - I bought an XPS 12.5" Ultrabook, and the packaging was so nice it made me not want to open the thing!

Now: you might say - shoot! That's dumb. It's a desk - how does packaging matter or be seen?

My father had a manufacturing plant that delivered high-end woodworking products to big clients like Disney and Citibank. Other firms just wrapped their high end casework in white or clear plastic wrap. Dad? He got colored custom duct tape with the business name, full contact and customer service #'s, logo, etc. It served a double duty: if something was wrong, the install crew could just look at the tape and make a call to get an issue resolved - instead of having to hunt for the #.

Surfaces - the Dell XPS Ultrabook has silicon surfaces that are WAY cool to touch. And the touchpad was easily the best i tried, not to mention the curved keys that fit my fingertips well. Now - I am 6'3" and have big mitts - but I bought this anyway even though the keyboard is small because I enjoyed the way it felt.

Audi has done the same thing with their "Open Pore Walnut" and wood trims on the A6, A8 and others. It feels great - not shiny and slick but like real wood - and almost makes you want to pet your dash. As a woodworker's son - i can tell you - wood and surfaces can have textures that are anything from cold and annoying to grittily disturbing to luxurious. Can your manufacturer do anything with the surface to make it feel better?

Flashing, Edges and Trim - again, in the world of furniture (dad was in that business too) - there are many small ways to build in expensive looking features. Small inlays, custom trim colors (edging on the desk top that has a color people can choose - say for an extra $29 they get custom colors - who wouldn't want to personalize their desks?) How about changing the color of the legs - platinum, enameled white, checkered, etc. Could your manufacturer do that?

Ask your customers - 'Why did you buy this? What makes it better and different from the other options you considered? How would you describe this desk to others - and it's uniqueness?' I have never, ever ever interviewed a client's customers and had the customer tell me the exact same thing that the client said they would. There are gold nuggets in there. Magic words. Stories. "I love my sit-stand desk because it's compact and I can put it next to the regular desk - they couldn't re-do my workspace since I live in cubicle land but this is compact and elegant enough that I don't mind leaving it off to the far end of my uber-cubicle." That was my situation.

Messaging- one of the really powerful ways to differentiate your desk can be how you DESCRIBE it. Remember Audi's open-pore wood example above? European car manufacturers have been putting wood into dashes for 50 years. This is the 1st time I have ever heard of 'open-pore wood,' and remember - I'm a cabinetmaker's son.

John Deere is great at marketing their smaller tractors to the newly wealthy set who now have 'grounds' to take care of. Automatic transmission? It's called 'e-Hydro.' AutoStart, PowerReverser, etc.

Could you use the terminology of your industry? And stand out that way? Instead of 'filtered,' 'mild,' 'menthol' or whatever options existed, Lucky Strike chose to describe their tobacco as 'It's toasted.' Sounds fun, right? (Secret: all tobacco is cured in a toasting oven. But only Lucky Strike describes it!)

How about Roger Ailes fantastic victory of positioning when he joined Fox from CBS. He described their news offering as "Fair and Balanced' (which if you watch it - to me swings very conservative and Republican). Leslie Moonvies, President of CBS is supposed to have called Roger to complain and say 'What are you saying about us?'

Roger Ailes' response? 'It's not my problem that you were in the business for 30 years and never thought to say it that way.'

SPEED OF DELIVERY: could you offer a 48-hour no-risk delivery? When I was looking for a sit-stand desk, I was in so much agony the thought of going to stores and trying something out was painful in itself. Could you offer an 'Oh my aching back RUSH service' (messaged better than that) with an 800# folks could call for relief? You could advertise it through Pay Per Click and see what kind of traffic it generated as a test...

Custom Tops - what if I could get a different top made? Maybe I like Burled Walnut (super expensive), or Cherry, or Birch or Beech? Maybe my HR or facilities person will only support me purchasing and leaving in my office that matches the other furniture, at least in part. Could you offer this?

A Free Telephone Ergonomic Consult - why not have them send a photo of their work area, and desk, and you give them some advice? You could upsell other items along with the desk (wireless keyboards, speech rec software that allowed typing by talking, back chairs, etc.) Most folks in need of a sit-stand desk either have a painful need that extends beyond just the desk, or an interest in these kind of things.

Partnering with Chiropractors and letting them sell them as a private-label or other offering: why not go to Chiropractors and offer them the opportunity to buy this at 15-20% over cost and then resell it? Sell them a sample to put in their office at cost, and create a custom STICKERED TOP that had the 800#, ordering information, and a discount for any patient of 'Dr. XYZ.' Talk about people in need of a sit-stand desk???!! Where do I sign!

I hope these are helpful to you. Feel free to reach out as well. I have a Secret Sauce / Differentiation scorecard I would be happy to send you (no cost).

My best,

Answered 10 years ago

It seems every time one company discovers something that works well, others race to copy the idea. Professional services, airlines, wireless communication, and insurance are just a few examples of industries in which major brands have become nearly indistinguishable from one another. According to the WPP and Millward Brown 2015 “BrandZ Top 100 Global Brands” Report, which studied brands from 2006 to 2015, differentiation is the single most important contributor to a brand’s success.
The top 50 brands in the world achieved an average Difference Score of 139, while the next 50 scored an average of 96. To be fair, the importance of differentiation is not a new idea. While these concepts all have merit, they do not alleviate the need for differentiation. Simply put, differentiation directly affects a brand's short-term profitability and long-term viability.
Specifically, when customers see brands as interchangeable, they make purchase decisions based primarily on price, which inhibits a company's ability to command premium pricing. This translates to lower product margins and reduced profitability. Additionally, customers are less loyal to brands they feel are undifferentiated. Yet despite the undeniable advantages of achieving differentiation, brands cannot seem to get out of their own way. Several years later, Deloitte confirmed that customers saw several categories of products as homogenous, ignoring labels for the cheapest item on the shelf.
Rather than focusing on the ideal customer experience, companies should think in terms of brand experience. Brands should seek to create touchpoints along a customer journey that are consistent with and inspired by the brand positioning. Doing so paves the way for individual brands to consider what they want their interactions with their customers to look like. It also provides customers the benefits of distinctiveness and variety, enabling them to choose the experience that is most meaningful to them. Customers want to feel like people, not mass-marketed demographic numbers. Advances in technology, along with more creative and sophisticated marketing practices, make it easy to customize experiences, so there is no reason not to provide customers with personalized offers and experiences that make them feel appreciated. Customers can easily spot disingenuous brand tactics, and they understandably resent them. Instead, touch customers in areas where the brand’s presence makes sense. It makes sense, it feels genuine, and it stays true to Uber’s brand positioning. Instead, they should pursue long-term, transformational brand-inspired growth. Next, lean on the brand to see where new opportunities might lie. That same environmental company might do well in other areas pertaining to relevant social issues. Finally, test new opportunities with small steps to validate their usefulness.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

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