All I Need to Know about Business I Learned from a Duck

Archive for September, 2013

What Can We Learn About Creating Strong Brands From A Frog?

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

The Alaskan Wood Frog (species Rana sylvatica for all of you zoologists) isn’t merely “better” at surviving harsh winters than other species of frogs; it has completely set itself apart from every other animal on the entire planet. Put succinctly, these wood frogs can turn themselves into a Popsicle (freeze up to two-thirds of the water in their bodies) in the winter and reanimate (come back to life) after thawing in the spring. Absolutely no other creature on earth can survive this. Click on the video, below, and see for yourself.

How do they do it? Scientists have discovered that Alaskan Wood Frogs stockpile huge amounts of glycogen (complex sugar) in their livers, which grow 1.5-fold relative to body mass as it prepares for winter (think of them as a walking liver!). The liver later converts this glycogen to glucose, a known cryoprotectant (you just learned a new word today, didn’t you!) that quickly gets distributed to all the cells in the body when temperatures drop.

Question: What can we learn about creating strong brands from Alaskan Wood Frogs?

Answer: This species of frog possess unique physical qualities that no other critter on earth has acquired. In a word it has differentiated itself from every multicellular organism in the entire natural world.

So here’s the crux of my analogy – differentiation is the crucial molecule in the DNA of creating strong brands.

Please know that my definition of differentiation is very different from most marketing consultant’s interpretation because I feel that emphasis should be placed upon “De commoditization” of products and services.

In other words I think my clients should be trying to create something for which there is no alternative. And if they create something that’s one-of-a-kind and there are no alternatives, then they will win the branding game. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what our allies from north of our border have to say on the subject: The BizShifts-Trends CBC Blog (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) cautions marketing & branding executives, “Most likely you’re not trying to create a truly different alternative; you’re just trying to create a better alternative. You’re not practicing ‘differentiation,’ you’re unwisely attempting ‘betterentiation’ instead.”

Here are two quick examples of companies that successfully differentiated their products: Bottled water was, well, bottled water before Coke completely changed the game by added vitamins (Glaceau Vitaminwater®). And in 1987 Red Bull not only launched a completely new product, it created a whole new product category – energy drinks!

So take a tip from a frog that is truly one-of-a-kind. Instead of asking yourself “how can we make our products/services better than the competition”, ask yourself “how can we make our products/services so different, our target audience will never consider buying from one of our competitors.”