What Makes You Unique?


This is a question that many small business owners in the UK must answer. Perhaps it is an unusual product or a unique business model. Whatever the trait that sets you apart, it’s important to make this the focus of your branding and marketing efforts.

Dove has a unique marketing stance thanks to its ‘Real Beauty’ campaign. This campaign, which began in 2004, rejected the thin, blonde ideal and held instead that a variety of women can be beautiful. It certainly set the Unilever brand apart from its competition and helped the company to gain a sizeable share of the UK market. Moreover, it was a timely message that was relevant on a social level to a variety of women all over the globe.

However, Dove is re-branding their company with a new strapline and a new marketing campaign called ‘Body Language’. The new strategy will go public in the next few weeks and focuses on the confidence that women can gain from using Dove products. Like many modern marketing campaigns, this new Dove message will be shared mainly by social media, with traditional marketing such as television commercials serving merely as ‘back up’.

Dove maintains that the new marketing campaign is not a full, 360o switch from the Campaign for Real Beauty. In a public statement, the company said that, “Our bold vision for the brand remains exactly the same. We aim to create a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety… We remain committed to real beauty.”

It’s unusual to see a brand marketing position last as long as the Campaign for Real Beauty (almost seven years now). However, we wonder whether such an abrupt turnaround is appropriate for the Dove brand. Their marketing was one of the things that really set the company apart in a category filled with competition. Some people felt that the Real Beauty marketing snubbed women who were traditionally beautiful, but most women embraced the message without reservation.

Changing gears is a scary process, but especially so if your current campaign is still working. We have to wonder whether the ‘Body Language’ branding message could have stayed in the wings until ‘Real Beauty’ started to fizzle. However, the Dove brand (and its parent company Unilever) is a marketing master, so we are hesitant to question their decisions.

Back to our question: What makes you unique? Why should customers choose you over any other option? Determining these factors and making them the centre of your marketing will help you begin to differentiate yourself from the competition. Don’t tell customers how great your company and your products are; tell them what problem you will solve and why you are uniquely suited to solving that problem. We saw this with Dove. The problem? Women not feeling beautiful due to cultural preferences for a certain phenotype. The answer: Dove’s products, made to bring out the beauty in a variety of women.

It is easy to see why this marketing campaign worked, and hopefully the new campaign will enjoy similar success.