It's tempting in a crowded marketplace to make claims that you're “innovative” and hope that resonates on word alone. In the technology space, specifically, brands that align with “innovation” are a dime a dozen. There is nothing inherently wrong with the word “innovation,” but in its ubiquity its meaning has become diluted. You'll want to encourage a marketing communications mix that brings life to your differentiator, “innovation,” in ways that go above and beyond words, into the realm of active brand expression. Aligning the types of communications activities with the brand results in a more authentic and, ultimately, productive conversation with customers, analysts, media and other key audiences.
Focus less on fitting in and more on standing out. Successful brands all have distinctive features, but it's not effective to simply say, “We're different!” A differentiation strategy can be aggressive (approaching customers in unexpected, even disruptive ways) or subtle (becoming known for saying something when your competitors are mute). Adjust your strategy to rise above existing level of noise in your marketplace, and you can achieve differentiation for your innovative offering.
Creators of everything from projectors to pacemakers have succeeded in creating new product categories to market their innovations, and the same can be done for your distinctive offering. Strategic analyst and media relations and online education can validate the marketplace case for a new niche, as well as set you on the path to setting the standard by which your category set will be judged.
Be recognized for excellence in not only what you do, but what you think. A thought leadership strategy allows you to actively shape and improve perceptions of your industry segment, create a more favorable marketing and sales environment for your enterprise, and demonstrate your strategic value and credibility to those who should--but may not – know you. By challenging the status quo with your unique view, you express yourself as an innovative thinker and that will translate to your brand.
Just because you dominate your tech category now, doesn't mean you always will. In fact, the more pervasive your brand becomes, the less personally connected your audience may feel with it. A category leadership strategy reinforces a business' ongoing relevance and commitment to its customers, leaving them with the feeling that – no matter how high you've climbed – you're still rooted in today's real-world problems that technology can address.
Brands in every industry have their own usual-suspect identifiers that they must strive to own and differentiate (“customer service” or “trust,” for example, may be your industry's brass rings). Regardless of whether you're in the technology space, active communication showcases your brand promise more dramatically than words alone can.
Janet Tyler is president and co-founder of Airfoil Public Relations she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-AIRFOIL.