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Alyssa Straub

Brand Competition
Brilliantly Differentiated Brand
Summary & Framework:
Brands that are doing really well in their market are taking risks to differentiate themselves.
These brands are layered, sculpted, and tested. The article states that three things must align to
create a competition murdering brand:
1. Understand brands beliefs and communication
2. Understand your audience
3. Understand your competition & be different from them
Below, you will see how some brands kill their competition:

Create a cult brand following

Be simple, genuine, & selfless

Sell a viewpoint not a product. (if applicable)

Give an experience

Focus on quality, image, and community

Do community events

Have a solid, hashtagable* catch-phrase like #builttolast or #liveriveted

Be concise

Find a niche

Make entering the business easy

If you promote a certain lifestyle, make sure your store reflects that

Have great customer service

Be funny
1. GCI could utilize this framework as they are a little fish in a big ocean right now which is
what this article focused on.
2. Credit Unions, like Denali, can utilize this simple framework to differentiate themselves
from the big competition.
GCI could absolutely benefit from the principles in this article. While the article did not pinpoint
one particular aspect of the firms that made them great, there were quite a few suggestions. The
article discussed T-Mobile as one of the best companies that is currently killing the competition.
T-Mobile even calls themselves the un-carrier and GCI has some lessons to learn from T-Mobile.
They should take a difference stance than the major competitors.
Below are suggestions for GCI based off of the main points in the article:

Create a cult brand following

o As of right now, GCI does not have a cult following. However, it is important to
note that GCI has been one of the only carriers for Alaskans and this in and of
itself gives GCI an imbedded cult following. In class and in the articles thus far
we have not really talked about cult followings specifically but we did talk about
brand value. If GCI builds their brand value with a brand community, then they
could build a cult following.
Be simple, genuine, & selfless
o When it comes to mobile carriers, they are not very straightforward. Contracts are
long, arduous, and not user friendly. If GCI were to offer a straightforward contact
with very simple guidelines, that would be appreciated by the consumer.
Focus on quality, image, and community
o GCI has the most coverage across Alaska. Why is this not their biggest marketing
campaign? Additionally, GCI is an Alaskan company. They should absolutely be
doing more community events and working on their image throughout Alaska
through brand communities.
Have a solid, hashtagable* catch-phrase like #builttolast or #liveriveted
o GCI does not have a catch-phrase for their wireless sector. Their phrase should be
front and center of their webpages and advertisements but it does not exist.
Biggest State, Biggest Network could work.
Find a niche
o GCI is not in a niche market. Cell phone providers is not something that is new,
however, GCI could and should create a new edge to their wireless network. TMobile is already the Un-Carrier so GCI must come up with an idea that is as
innovative as it is memorable. Rather than focus on iPhones, maybe GCI should
focus on Samsung and give away Android phones with every contract. Maybe
GCI should totally do away with contracts. They need to do market research
before they decide a path and find a niche.
Make entering the business easy
o One of GCIs problems is that they pick all the wrong customers, GCI should
stray away from this bullet-point and reference the articles on how to pick the
right customers.
If you promote a certain lifestyle, make sure your store reflects that
o GCI stores should reflect life in Alaska. They could feature a rock-wall, local art
or anything Alaskan to reflect the lifestyle they are trying to portray.

Corporate Brand Management Imperatives: Custodianship, Credibility, & Calibration

There is an informal, powerful contract between the firm and its stakeholders called a
covenant. It is the expectations of the customers of a firms value.
o In a covenant, the corporate brand emerges over time.

o The corporate covenant is what is promised to a customer and what is delivered

by a firm.
There are three corporate brand assets of a successful brand: reassurance value, emotional
value, and financial value. They are explained extremely well in the chart below:

Brand identity can exist totally separately from the actual owner of the brand. A great
example of this is Land Rover.
o Because of the brand covenant, consumers know what the brand stands for and
can readily appreciate the differences that the brand brings to the table.
Three imperatives to the strategic management of corporate brands:
o Custodianship
Corporate brand management is an ongoing senior management
Management must guard the brand covenant
Executives must always be faithful to the brand
Realize that the firms value is really their emotional ownership to the
customers and stakeholders
o Credibility
Living and realizing the brand covenant
Organizational wide commitment to the covenant

The firms brand covenant must be believable, authentic, durable,

profitable & responsible.
Losing credibility can end a company
o Calibration
The method that a firm covenant is respected over the long term is an
ongoing, evaluation process represented in the AC4ID framework.
AC4ID Framework being, building and bridging constellations
o Being, building and bridging constellation are all different versions of the AC4ID
o Ideally all three frameworks are utilized for a three-dimensional time approach to
strategic management of a brand
o Being
Concerned with the dimensions related to a current time frame: actual,
communicated, conceived, covenanted, and cultural
o Becoming
Focused on the future: actual, covenanted, cultural, ideal, and desired
o Bridging
Embraces both time frames and encompasses all components of the
AC4ID framework.
REDS2 diagnosis process
o REDS2 is essentially an evaluation process that has five steps: reveal, examine,
diagnose, select and strategy

Companies that can utilize this framework:

Any firm struggling with brand identity whether large or small
For example:

Kaladi Brothers: since Kaladi Brothers needs to fight with Starbucks and
all the small independently owned shops in Anchorage, they should have
stronger brand management.
GCI should build the necessary brand assets that create a strong corporate brand.
1. Reassurance Value:
a. GCI must clearly define a brand and work to grow said brand over time.
While GCI has been in business for a relatively long time, their brand
identity is weak and thus their reassurance value does not exist. GCI needs
a growth strategy that is aimed to make GCI credible and reputable to
2. Emotional Value:
a. GCI could establish that the customers should have emotional ownership
over the brand. As Alaskas wireless network, Alaskans should feel a sense
of ownership to the brand. GCI must be socially responsible and ethical in
all decisions to achieve emotional value.
3. Financial Value:
a. GCI could and should consider selling their mobile customers to the
national brands if they are not committed to establishing a stronger brand.
They could still exist under the name GCI but be run by AT&T or Verizon.
As I have said in previous writings, GCI must get their entire company from marketing to
finance to sales under the same assumption. The senior management in all sectors of GCI
wireless must take on brand management as one of their key duties and responsibilities they
must be a custodian to the brand and through custodianship, GCI has a chance at creating
credibility. Finally, GCI must calibrate their strategic plan, which will be discussed below.
Calibration or AC4ID Framework implementation:
GCI needs to first establish a being and becoming framework prior to creating a bridging
framework. Without being a top level employee at GCI or in their wireless sector, I cannot state
to some of the critical concerns of the framework, such as the cultural corporal brand identity, the
ideal corporate identity and the desired corporate brand identity but the other pieces of the
framework could definitely use some refining so Im sure those probably do as well.

Win the Brand Relevance Battle and Build Competitor Barriers

o Brand Preference Competition
o This competition, according the Aaker, is not the competition to be focused on
winning because of the faster, cheaper, better mantra that is associated with brand
o Brand preference competitions are usually for retention of market position, at best.
o Brand Relevance Competition
o Good for growth
o They develop offerings of must-haves so that consumers will not accept less than
the product or service that the firm offers.
o Brand relevance consists of winning your subset or category and being considered as
an important brand.
o Brand relevance strategy consists of transformational innovation to create offers that
define new categories.
Example: Cirque redefined the circus and created an entirely new category.
o Process of creating brand relevance:
1. Identifying Must Haves
o Part of the process to win brand relevance competition
o Must haves must be capable of defining a new subcategory
Can look at unmet customer needs, unintended applications, under-served
segments, market trends, role models, new technology, etc.
2. Decide what must haves are significant
a. Must ensure that you are not being optimistic or pessimistic about the market. A
market could grow or shrink.
3. Is this must-have even possible
a. If the must-have is technologically feasible, can the firm even produce it?
o Creating barriers for the competition
o Three types of barriers worth noting
Make the offer rich and dynamic
Expand the brand beyond the functional benefits
o Include more than one must-have one route is to expand the
personality of the category
Establish yourself as the feisty underdog
Connect to customers through common interests
o Brand communities
Engage in innovation over time
o Make your brand a moving target for competitors by keeping
ideas innovative
o Not only expands must-haves but gets people talking about the
Execute and Scale
Execute flawlessly

o Do not be anything less than perfect when it comes to quality

o Culture of perfect execution is hard to mimic
Be prepared to scale
o Partner with a firm that can help your firm if necessary
Own the category or subcategory
Become the exemplar of the subcategory
o Your brand will be the most visible and credible
o Become exemplar by:
Advance the category or subcategory rather than the
Be an advocate of the subcategory not the brand
Be a thought leader with logic about the subcategory or
Allow the subcategory or category to evolve through
Brand the must-haves
o The brand must own these must haves to own the category or
subcategory. This creates credibility
Be authentic
o An authentic brand will be trusted and credible. The brand will
deliver quality and lead the category
o An authentic brand will tell youre their must-haves in a
compelling way.
Brands that should utilize this framework:
1. GCI
2. Kaladi Brothers
o The main thing out of this article that I gathered is that you dont have to be a top-dog to
have brand relevance. In fact, it is often the underdogs that achieve the highest brand
relevance because they create a category in which they can thrive out of customer musthaves.
o For GCI, they must start by polling their customers, future customers, and possible
customers for what they consider their must-haves in the wireless industry. From there,
they must find their niche.
o For GCI, the niche may be that they are authentic about the wireless services that they
offer, or that they create offers that cannot be refused by customers, or they own a subcategory that no other wireless network can duplicate.
o An example of a must-have for a twenty-something like myself that is not being met is
to only pay for the data that I use.
o On any wireless plan, I must pick the amount of data that I want in a plan right
now I split 15 GB with my husband. Most months we only use 6GB but during
the winter months, we can use 15-20. My question is why am I paying for 15

during the entire year? I want to just pay for the data we use. If a wireless
network offered me a plan in which I could only pay for the data that I used, I
would switch to them immediately.
o While I am not entirely sure what niche GCI should follow without doing market
research, I can say that the beginning of the process would be to analyze some soft data
on what customer must-haves are and what needs of wireless customers throughout the
country are not being met.

4 Ways to Block Brand Competition

This article just reaffirms what the Brand Relevance Article stated in order to be relevant, a
firm must create something innovative and develop a category or subcategory in the market.
This article does, however, reach and help a firm evaluate how to create their subcategory or
category. The following steps are suggested for any firm trying to create brand relevance:
1. Make a list of 5-10 unmet needs of your customers
2. Categorize by two types: unmet needs that are clear but hard to execute and unmet needs
that are known but are assumed to have small demand or require lofty investment
3. Decide if there is a market for the concept
4. If there is a market for the concept, does the concept follow your firms brand values and
does it have support throughout the organization?
5. Is the timing in the market right? Ensure that the market is not too crowded.
6. Repeat step 2-5 for each need and pick which concept best fits
7. Create barriers for your competition through investments, owning benefits, customer
relationships or linking your brand.
Last but not least, make sure that the firm is prepared to reposition themselves if necessary.